What is a Network Adapter

A Network Adapter acts as an interface between a computer and network or simply it is a device which is used to connect user’s computer to the network.It is basically the port where the RJ 45 cable is connected to gain internet access. The hardware of the network adapters exists in many forms. Network Adapter term was known after the Ethernet add in cards which were earlier available for personal computers. After PCI Ethernet cards, many network adapter cards came into existence. Most of these cards are designed for a particular type of network. One was PCMCIA devices which were also known as PC CARD adapters and other was USB devices. Network Adapters are very helpful in providing a dedicated and good connection to a network.

Network Adapters are also used in laptop computers particularly in the case where there is no in-built wireless network adapter in laptops while personal computers on a local area network normally contain a network adapter for accessing the internet or also for transmission purposes. But mostly the wireless network adapters are integrated within the circuit chip of the laptop i.e. they are pre- installed. Network Adapters are also called as Ethernet Adapters if in an Ethernet network or sometimes as token ring adapters when present in token ring network.

Device Driver software is used for supporting wired as well as wireless network adapters in almost every operating system. Network Adapter interfaces directly to the hardware at its lower side while at the upper side it provide an interface such that the upper level drivers can send and receive packets or set or reset the network adapter. The Network drivers allow application software to communicate with the adapter hardware. It is often that the network device drivers are installed automatically when the adapter hardware is first powered on.

Network adapters should be compatible with the other network devices which are used to connect to the network and are also used to function in parallel. Some of the Network Adapters are purely the software packages that help in simulating the functions of a network card. Network Adapters are also some times called as Virtual Adapters and these virtual adapters are quite common in Virtual Private Networking which includes the building of different virtual private networks. Network Adapter cards are also known as Network Interface Cards i.e. NIC cards or the Local Area Network Cards i.e. the LAN cards.

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