An Ethernet card is a kind of network adapter, which was initially created to build a Local Area Network (LAN). It is used to support the Ethernet standard for high-speed network connections via cables and assist the exchange of data on systems over a network.
These systems communicate over a network with the help of physical access to a networking medium, and a low-level addressing system through the use of MAC addresses (a unique 48-bit serial number which is stored in ROM carried on the Ethernet card). Within a network, it is important for every computer to have a card with a unique MAC address.
A network card typically consists of a twisted pair, BNC (Bayonet Neill-Concelman) or AUI (Attachment Unit Interface) socket, where the network cable is connected. There are also a few LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes) to inform the user of whether the network is active and whether or not the data is being transmitted.
The operational speed of Ethernet cards vary from 10 Mbps to 100 Mbps, depending on the protocol standard they support. Earlier a maximum speed of 10 Mbps was possible, which gradually rose to 100 Mbps. Nowadays, there are Fast Ethernet and Gigabit Ethernet standard, which offer a speed of 1 Gbps (1000 Mbps).
Installation of an Ethernet Card
These days most of the computers come with inbuilt Ethernet cards, which are ideal in an environment where two or more computers need to be interlinked. However, if a device does not have an inbuilt card, it can be installed and the process to do so is very easy.
Here are a few steps:
- Unplug the electrical connections of the computer and open the CPU cabinet. Find an available slot on the motherboard, place the card in it, and press it down.
- Tighten the screw that attaches the card to the case, replace the cover, and plug-in the connection back into the electrical socket.
- Switch on the computer and install the drivers from the CD that comes with the card. Restart the computer after the drivers are installed.
- Use the Cat 5 Ethernet cable to connect the Ethernet PC card to the network. For making the connection, plug one end of the network cable into the port on the back of the card and the other end into one of the open ports on the router or modem.
- Restart the router or modem and configure the network connection. In case, some confusion arises at any point of time, refer to the user manual.
A variety of Ethernet cards are available in the market, depending on the requirements of the user. Wireless cards are also available which make use of radio waves for data transmission. A small antenna is used for such cards, for transmitting data and carrying out requests.
These cards generally look like small boxes and are connected through an external USB port. Wireless cards provide a flexible alternative to PCI cards for desktop computers, and are also used with video game consoles and other consumer devices lacking the required slots.
With the advancement in technology, the dependency on computer networks has also proliferated. Network security is one of the prime concerns of big organizations which have confidential and classified information on the network. So one should always be aware about the security issues, before installing Ethernet cards and creating a network.