How to Set Up Network Hardware in Your Laptop

7 of 14 in Series: The Essentials of Networking with Your Laptop with Windows Vista

In order to network, you need to install a NIC, or network interface card, inside your laptop.

Most laptops sold today come with a NIC standard. You can tell that it’s there by looking for the RJ-45 hole or thing on the sides or back of your laptop's case. If you see that hole, your laptop is ready for networking. You just need to use a network cable to connect your laptop to the network jack in the wall, to another PC, or directly to a network hub, switch, or router.

If your laptop lacks a NIC or the RJ-45 hole, you can add one easily, by using either a PC Card or using a USB-Ethernet adapter.

  • The cable you use to plug your laptop into the network is commonly called Ethernet cable. It's also known as CAT-5. You can buy it in assorted lengths, colors, and flavors. It's available at any computer- or office-supply store.

  • RJ-45 holes look like phone jack holes, but they're slightly larger. Do not confuse them! If the Ethernet cable doesn’t fit into the hole, that particular hole is a phone or modem jack, not an RJ-45.

  • A hub, switch, or router is a hardware device designed as a central locus for all computers on the network. Everything plugs into the hub, switch, or router.

  • A hub is simply a place where Ethernet cables from various computers (or printers or modems) plug in.

  • A switch is a faster version of a hub.

  • A router is a faster, smarter version of a switch.

  • No, you don't really need a hub-switch-router thing. If you're just connecting two computers, plug an Ethernet, or CAT-5, cable into each computer's NIC and then you can do what's called peer-to-peer networking. This is the fastest, most efficient way to connect two computers for exchanging information.

blog comments powered by Disqus

The Essentials of Networking with Your Laptop with Windows Vista