Computer networking has evolved to the point where connecting one computer to another has become as easy as flicking a switch. While the technology itself has seen rapid success in the past few years, the methodologies of plugging and installing the relevant network adapter hardware have remained the same.
A network adapter can be connected externally to a PC’s motherboard to start the installation process. Once done, you can simply install the device’s relevant driver in the Windows Device Manager.
In this article, I will be covering both the hardware and software aspects of the entire process, so you will be able to install a network adapter wherever and whenever you want.
How Are Network Adapters Connected?
Mainly, there are two kinds of network adapters. While their purpose remains the same, one is connected externally in a USB port, whereas the other tends to attach directly to a computer’s motherboard.
Both of these network adapters follow different rulesets for the installation process. That being said, here is how you can install your network adapter on your PC.
Installing Automatic Network Adapters
An external network adapter can be added to a computer (mainly laptops) with the help of a USB port. The general premise is to add either single or multiple RJ45 (Ethernet) ports through that USB port. Any port can work as long as it supports data transfer through the USB protocol.
With that being said, installing external network adapters is rather autonomous. Therefore, you just need to identify the USB type of your network adapter from the table below:
A computer generally possesses many Type-A ports. Therefore, you only need to identify the generation of the Type-A USB to plug it into the relevant port. However, this is optional unless you aim to go for extreme data transfers.
On the contrary, Type-C is rather rare to find unless you have a relatively newer PC. If you cannot find a USB A port on your PC, you should consider purchasing a USB C to A converter.
Depending on the network adapter, you can even chuck it into the next-gen USB 3.2 ports. However, the data transfer rate will entirely depend on that specific adapter’s capabilities.
Once the network adapter has been connected, an automatic driver scan will ensue. Your computer will try to find the driver files that come within the network adapter. In most cases, you might have to go through a setup window.
That being said, here is how the general process works.
- The Wizard will prompt you for a manual or an automatic installation. Click on the automatic process and hit next.
- In the automatic process, select a location to install the driver and keep pressing next until the process has been completed. Once done, tap the “Finish” button, and you’re good to go.
The setup process will vary according to the network adapter. Consequently, certain adapters might not even need a manual setup. Rather, your operating system might automatically detect and install the driver without any interference from you.
Do not unplug your PC during the driver installation process as it can cause the system to store corrupted/incomplete files there. In some instances, this can prompt the computer to believe the driver files to be present, thereby restricting any re-installation efforts.
How To Install a Network Adapter Manually?
Many network adapters work on rather older architectures. Thus, they lack the basic automated features as well. If your network adapter isn’t showing any apparent signs of being detected by the system then it might require a manual installation.
With that said, you will need to plug the adapter into your computer through the mentioned method. After that, simply follow the steps mentioned below:
- Right-click on the computer to select the “Manage” option.
- From there, find and open the “Device Manager” under the “System Tools”.
- Click on “Scan for hardware changes” and wait for the scan to finish. In most cases, this is near-instantaneous.
- From the “Network Adapters” drop-down list, select the device and click on the “Update Driver” button in the Tool Bar.
- In the new dialogue box, choose “Browse” and head to the driver files in the prompted file manager.
- Point this to the
.inf filein your located drivers folder and restart your computer.
Once done, you should be able to find a working network adapter once you boot back in. That being said, a non-automated driver installation process usually spells bad news for the network adapter. However, it should work flawlessly regardless of the method of installation.
Messing with the driver file configurations can cause your PC to behave in bizarre ways. Therefore, it’s best if you refrain from editing them as much as possible.
After everything is done, you should be able to install your network adapters without any additional effort. What we learned is quite simple, most new adapters support automatic installation. If that is the case for yours, then simply plug the device into the correct port. Otherwise, you will have to point the driver variable to the .ini file through Device Manager.
Frequently Asked Questions
You won’t be able to pass data through that device. Furthermore, it might not even show up in the Device Manager. Simply make sure to open the Device Manager and reset the device if needed.
Yes, it’s quite possible to disable your network adapter in the BIOS. However, such a setting is only possible for the built-in ones since the computer won’t recognize most external devices in the BIOS mode. Therefore, it’s quite subjective on the type of adapter at hand.