A network card, also referred to as a network interface card or network adapter, is an expansion card that acts as the physical interface between the cable and computer. It is called an expansion card because it is inserted into an expansion slot. It prepares, transforms, sends, and controls data on the network. It converts data coming from the cable into bytes in order for the central processing unit to read it. Network cards can be used in homes and offices. At home, if you have two or more computers, a network card will allow you to do things including but not limited to sharing files, printers, scanners, Internet access, and playing network games. The following items describe the roles of network cards and how to use them.
- Using a network card will allow peer-to-peer networking or two or more computers to connect and share resources without the need to go through a separate server. To establish a peer-to-peer network, you have to check first that the card is properly installed into the expansion slot. The gold contacts you see on the card must be entirely inserted into the expansion slot on the motherboard. Secure the card in place using a screw, and after affixing the network card and connecting the cables into their proper places, verify if it is properly installed in the device manager. Installation and configuration of the network card may vary depending on the operating system you use. Connect the computers to each other and locate ‘network properties’ from the control panel. Verify if your network card is listed as a network component. Click the ‘file and print sharing’ under the network window if you want to allow file and print sharing on your computer. Enable the same settings on the other computer. Highlight the TCP/IP protocol by clicking the ‘properties’ button in order to set it up for your network adapter. Specify the IP address and note that the other computer must have a different IP address with the same subnet mask.
- Basic network with file sharing is possible with Ethernet network cards with speeds of 10/100 mbps, a network switch, and standard network cables, and of course two or more computers. Basic configuration to connect the computers to each other is similar to peer-to-peer settings, and again, dependent on the computer’s operating system.
- Basic network with file and broadband modem sharing will enable all computers in the house to share one modem connection. However, with multiple users in the house accessing the Internet at one time, browsing speed will be sluggish due to the slow connection.
- Basic network with file and Internet sharing allows computer users in the house to share one Internet connection. It requires additional hardware, Ethernet network cards, a network hub, switch or router. Do the same configuration done with a peer-to-peer network. Your broadband Internet connection must be connected to the WAN port on the router. Connect the network switch to the router and affix each of the computers to the switch. The broadband Internet provider will provide you with network settings that you have to specify in your network router.
Your network card has to be installed in your operating system with the appropriate driver in order to be functional. Ensure that you only use the driver provided by the manufacturer.