Networking / Beginners

Installing Multiple Network Adapters

You might want to install multiple network adapters in your computer if one of the following applies:

  • You simultaneously connect to two or more different networks with different IP addresses or protocols. You'd use a separate adapter to connect to each network.
  • You want to share a broadband cable or DSL Internet connection with your LAN without using a hardware sharing router. Later in this tutorial, but you can do it using one adapter to connect to your LAN and another to connect to your cable or DSL modem.
  • You have two different network types, such as wireless and wired Ethernet, or Phoneline and Ethernet, and want the computers on both LAN types to be able to communicate. You could use a hardware access point, but you could also install both types of adapters in one of your computers, and use the Bridging feature to connect the networks. We will discuss bridging later in this tutorial.

The following procedure to install multiple adapters:

  1. Install and configure the first adapter. If you're doing this to share an Internet connection, install and configure the one you'll use for the Internet connection first.
  2. Click Start, Control Panel, Network and Internet Connections (if using category view), Network Connections. Select the icon named Local Area Connection and choose Rename This Connection in Network Tasks. Change the connection's name to something that indicates what it's used for, such as "Connection to Cable Modem" or "Office Ethernet Network."
  3. Write the connection name on a piece of tape or a sticky label and apply it to the back of your computer above the network adapter, or on the edge plate of the adapter itself.
  4. Shut down Windows and install the second adapter. Configure it and repeat steps 2 and 3 with the new Local Area Connection icon. Name this connection appropriately, for example, "LAN" or "Wireless Net", and put a tape or paper label on the computer, too.

If you follow these steps, you'll be easily able to distinguish the two connections, instead of having to remember which "Local Area Connection" icon is which.

Later in this tutorial, we will discuss how to configure Windows networking to use both of your adapters, under "Setting Up a Routed Network and "Setting Up a Bridged Network."

Microsoft recommends that you do not install multiple network adapters in a computer that is a domain controller or master browser, unless you are bridging the adapters. Master browsers with multiple interfaces wreak havoc on the browser service.
So, if you install multiple unbridged adapters in your computer, you should set the registry entry MaintainServerList to No, as described later in this tutorial under "Designating a Master Browser,".

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