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Installing a network adapter in Windows 2000/XP/2003

After you have inserted the network card into the computer, you will probably notice that Plug and Play will kick in when the computer is turned on. If the operating system has the device driver for the card, it will load the driver up automatically and you will see the device listed in Device Manager.

If the operating system doesn't have the driver, it will either prompt you for the driver (and you will need to supply the manufacturer's CD for the network card) or the device will be listed in Device Manager as an unknown device. To update the driver for the device in Windows 2000/XP/2003, you need to go to Device Manager to update the driver. The following steps demonstrate how to update a driver in Windows XP:

  1. Click Start, right-click My Computer, and choose Properties.
  2. In the System Properties dialog box, click the Hardware tab.
  3. On the Hardware tab, click the Device Manager button.
    The Device Manager appears.
  4. Within Device Manager, right-click on your network card and choose Update Driver.
    If your network card isn't listed in the Network Adapters section of Device Manager, look under the Unknown Devices category. If the device is in the Unknown Devices category, right-click it there and choose Update Driver.
    The Update Driver Wizard starts.
  5. Select Install from a List and click Next.
  6. Select Don't Search, I Will Choose the Driver to Install; then click Next.
  7. Select the manufacturer of your network card on the left and then choose the model of your network card on the right. Click Next.
    If your network card model isn't in the list, click the Have Disk button so that you can supply the location of the driver.
  8. After the driver is copied, click Finish.

Understanding the local area connection

After you load a network card driver, Windows creates an icon that represents the network card; this icon is called the local area connection. If you have multiple network cards installed, you will have multiple local area connections - one representing each network card.

The purpose of the local area connection icon is to give you a place to configure any network settings that are responsible for communication between the network card and the local area network (LAN). For example, if you want to ensure that TCP/IP is being used by your network card, you right-click on the local area connection and choose Properties. Once in the properties of the local area connection you can add or configure networking components such as TCP/IP.

To view your LAN connections in Windows XP, choose Start → Control Panel → Network and Internet Connections → Network Connections. You will see a window that displays your local area connection icon.

If you right-click the local area connection icon, a context menu gives you a number of tasks. The following is a list of the tasks that you might use when you troubleshoot networking issues:

  • Disable: Choose Disable if you want to temporarily cut off communication to and from the network. This is a quicker solution than physically removing the network card from the computer.
  • Enable: When you disable a card, the Disable option changes to Enable. After you troubleshoot your network (hopefully, you fix the problem) and you would like to re-enable the network connection, choose the Enable command.
  • Status: The status command displays a dialog box that shows how long the connection has been up and running and also the speed of the connection. On the Support Page tab, you can view your IP address information and MAC address.
  • Repair: If you click the Repair command, Windows performs maintenance on the connection by performing tasks such as renewing your IP address, flushing the ARP cache, and flushing the NetBIOS and DNS resolver cache.
  • Rename: Use this command to give the connection a more meaningful name. For example, renamed the local area connection for the network card that is connected to the Internet "Internet Connection."
  • Properties: Use the Properties command to open the Properties dialog box for your LAN connection. In the Properties dialog box, you can modify the network setup of the network card. For example, you can add or remove network protocols or change their configuration.

After you make sure that the correct hardware settings are applied to the network adapter, your next step is to connect to a network resource. Unfortunately, you can't connect to a network resource until you have the appropriate network client running. The following section describes the purpose of the network client.

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