Internet and Networking

What Is a Network Adapter?

A network adapter acts as an intermediary for devices, in order to create the ability to connect to a network. For example, when your laptop connects to the internet, a network adapter is responsible for it — in the entire ecosystem. In simpler terms, it makes it possible for you to get online.

Today, almost all of the desktops, tablets, laptops, etc. comes pre-configured with a network adapter. Commonly, it’s known as a “Network Interface Card,” (short for NIC). The NIC not only makes it possible to connect to the internet via a wired connection, but also wireless, as we all call it, the Wi-Fi.

In theory, although not practically now, it is quite possible that your device only has the capability for a wired connection. In that scenario, you can buy yourself a USB network adapter that can allow you to link up to a Wi-Fi.

How Do I Know What My Network Adapter Is? (Assuming You’re on a Desktop or a Laptop, and Using Windows OS)

In the post about uninstalling Windows drivers, I’ve discussed what a Device Manager is. Precisely, to find out your network adapter, you’d have to leverage this feature again.

To know your network adapters (yes, plural; chances are, you have more than one), navigate to Device Manager. You can do so, by searching for it in the start menu.

navigating to device manager from the start menu
Search for “Device Manager” in the start menu.

Then, once that window opens up, scroll down the list to find “Network Adapters.”. As said, you’ll likely have more than one, so to individually learn about each, open the drop-down, and click on properties.

viewing network adapters in windows 10
Opening up the main Network Adapter drop-down, will give you all your installed network adapters.

Information such as the driver version, signer, etc., will be available for viewing under “properties.”

Why Does Your Network Adapters Gets Automatically Disabled?

Assuming you’re using Windows OS, the answer to this question is battery & power preservation. In all likelihood, your system has a default setting to disable network adapters in the event of power conservation needs. The threshold probably depends on what your battery power management settings are, but, coming back to the point, to disallow automatic disablement of your network adapter, you simply have to uncheck that box.

To do so, follow along to the “properties,” as discussed, then from one of the tabs, you should see an option for “power management.” Head over to that tab, and uncheck the selection for “Allow the computer to turn off this device to save power.” Then, hit OK, and you should be all set.

how to disallow network adapter to be automatically turned off
De-select the checkbox as pointed out, and hit Ok.

You May Also Want to Check Out:

Types of Network Adapters

Primarily, there are two types of network adapters:

  • USB: Used mainly on devices that do not support wireless capabilities, USB network adapters prove to be a simple plug-and-play solution. Another use case is your W-Fi- Dongles.
  • NIC: As already discussed, this comes pre-built. The size, shape, hardware, configurations, etc., can differ from a device to a device, but the concept remains the same.

A Few Other FAQs

Do You Need a Network Adapter?

Technically, yes, if you want to connect to the internet. Do you need to buy one separately? Most likely not, as your device probably has NIC. If anything, go with a USB one.

Will a Wi-Fi Adapter Increase My Signal?

No. More precisely, that’s not its purpose. You may end up with an excellent network adapter with an impressive range already; but, to enhance your signal, you should buy a separate booster/repeater/extender.

Can I Use a USB Wi-Fi Adapter on My TV?

Yes. If your TV has a built-in functionality for it, you can. Similar to getting your laptop online with a USB network adapter, you can do the same with your TV.

Are Wi-Fi Adapters Safe?

Yes, they should be. What makes the whole thing precarious is not the adapter itself, but other things such as your internet, existing firewall settings, malware protections, what sites you visit, etc. Now, does the adapter comes pre-installed with anything naughty? Chances are, it’s not. But then, it has the same odds of having something if you were to buy an item from Amazon. Say, a regular USB Thumb drive.

How Do I Reinstall My Network Adapter Driver in Windows 10?

If you already have the setup files either directly from the manufacturer or when buying your device, use that. You may need to uninstall existing drivers first. There is a second method though: Directly via Device Manager. To do so:
1. Open device Manager.
2. Find your adapter.
3. Right-click > And select “Update Driver.”
4. You’ll get two options. Choose the one that fits your needs.


Network Adapters play a crucial role in the entire connectivity and always online ecosystem. In these modern times, many of us could be unaware of this critical hardware component, since it comes pre-configured.

Hardwares and how they’re able to communicate is a different ball game altogether, and an exciting field to get into. However, for the purposes of this post, just know that without a network adapter, the chances of you getting online is almost zilch.