What Is a Network Adapter?


Quick Answer

A network adapter is a hardware component that allows interaction between a computer and a network. It is also known as a network interface controller or LAN card.

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Full Answer

Traditional forms of network adapters come in as add-in cards that utilize PCI slots on the motherboard, whereas modern versions can be plugged into USB ports. Manufacturers also sell computers with network adapters that are already integrated as circuit chips. Device drivers are required by Windows and other operating systems to communicate with network adapters. In most cases, computers automatically install the necessary drivers when the adapter is plugged in for the first time, though some adapters require manual installation.

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