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Network adapter

(also network interface card, NIC)

Network adapter definition

A network adapter is a hardware component or apparatus that links a computer or alternate electronic equipment to a network, enabling communication with other devices on the network. Network adapters may be wired or wireless, each providing distinct advantages and disadvantages. These adapters are crucial for creating connections to local area networks (LANs), wide area networks (WANs), and the internet.

Network adapter examples

  • Ethernet adapter: A wired network adapter that connects devices to a network using Ethernet cables, offering fast and reliable connections with minimal latency.
  • Wi-Fi adapter: A wireless network adapter that uses Wi-Fi technology to connect devices to a network, allowing for greater mobility but sometimes suffering from interference and slower speeds.
  • USB network adapter: A portable network adapter that connects to a device through a USB port, enabling network connectivity on devices without built-in network adapters.

Comparing network adapters

Wired network adapters, such as Ethernet adapters, provide faster and more stable connections than wireless adapters but restrict mobility. In contrast, Wi-Fi adapters allow for greater freedom of movement but may experience interference and slower speeds, especially in crowded areas with multiple devices.

Network adapter tips

  • Ensure your network adapter's drivers are up to date for optimal performance.
  • Use a wired network adapter for latency-sensitive tasks, like online gaming or video conferencing.
  • Secure your Wi-Fi network with strong encryption and a robust password to prevent unauthorized access.