How to install and configure a network card in Windows XP

If you want to add your computer to a network or a network device like a router then you need to install or configure your network card. Every new computer and motherboard you buy nowadays has a built in network port known as RJ45 socket. If you have an older computer or a motherboard that does not have a built in RJ45 socket then your only option is to add a PCI or USB network card if you wish to connect to a network. For this guide i will assume that you do not have a network card installed. If you already have a network card then you can skip step 1 to 3.

Step 1: Install a network card. This could be PCI card or USB network card adaptor.

If you are installing a PCI card you need to open your computer case and push the PCI network card into an empty PCI slot. It is quite simple and straight forward. If you are using a USB network adaptor you simply need to plug it into an empty USB port.

PCI Network card : USB Network Adaptor:

Step 2: Install the device driver for the network card. Windows will detect that you have installed a new hardware. In most cases it will install the drivers automatically. If not, you need to install the drivers manually from the CD supplied with the network card. I am using Windows XP operating system to demonstrate each step. If you are using Windows Vista or Windows 7 then you need to follow this guide.

Step 3: After the drivers have been installed successfully you can see a network card listed under windows device manager. To go to the device manager click Start -> Control Panel -> System -> Hardware tab -> Device Manager.

You will see a network card listed under the device manager similar to the image below:

Step 4: Go to network connections by clicking Start -> My network places -> View network connections. You will get an icon similar to below:

Step 5: Double click on Local Area Connection icon which will display your LAN status. It shows the network connection duration, the speed of the connection, number of bytes sent and received etc.

Step 6: Click on the Support tab to see the Local Area connection status. You will see some very important connection details. You will see the Address type is assigned by DHCP followed by the IP address of the computer. DHCP means (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol). Basically its a feature built into most Routers or server operating systems which automatically assigns an IP address to the client computer. In our case the Router is the DHCP server and our computer is the client. Please note the dynamic IP address assigned by a DHCP server is random and can change next time you reboot your computer or the router.

Step 7: Click on the general tab -> Properties -> Internet protocol (TCP/IP) -> Properties. As you can see the IP address and DNS server address is set to obtain IP address automatically. This means the DHCP server assigns everything automatically as mentioned above.

Step 8: If you have many computers on a network i.e. your Desktop PC, Your Laptop, and your PS3 console its a good idea to fix the IP Address for each device. This is called static IP address. By fixing the IP address you can easily identify each computer on the network. This is what i will do below. I will choose my IP address as 192.168.2.100. The subnet mask will be automatically set to 255.255.255.0. Default gateway is 192.168.2.1. The gateway IP address is normally the IP address of your router. Preferred DNS server is also the IP Address of your router, although you can use other DNS servers like Open DNS IP address.

Step 9: You can now check if the static settings have taken effect by clicking on Support tab on Local Area connection status as you have done on Step 5. Finally you will see all the setting that you have made in the previous step has taken effect. You will notice that the Address type is now set to Manually configured.

That’s it, you have managed to install and configure your network device successfully. You have also learned how to use dynamic and static IP address to connect to a network.