Computers Computer Networking

How To Detect Network Hardware


Network hardware components are necessary to successfully connect to a local area network or wide area network, also known as the Internet. In many situations, PC users never see or touch network hardware components because the device is recessed into the frame of the computer, or it's completely built in to the inside of the tower or case.

For example, and Ethernet network port commonly rests on the back of a desktop PC, and either on the side or back of a laptop PC. In many cases, the only evidence that this network hardware component exists is by the thick Ethernet cable that runs from the network port to the port in a router or modem. In the case of wireless networking technology, the antenna does not protrude from the computer in a high profile manner. Instead, the entire wireless circuit board and antenna, send and receive network data through the walls of the case itself; some external USB wireless adapters tend to have retractable or adjustable antennas.

It really doesn't matter what type of network hardware components your computer uses. The most important aspect is making sure the operating system, such as Microsoft Windows, can detect and recognize the device so that you can use it for networking and Internet purposes.

Step 1

Decide why you are going to use network hardware components. If your computer is connecting directly to a modem, such as for digital subscriber line or cable broadband services, then you are setting up a wide area network connection. Alternatively, if you want to connect your computer to a network in your home or small office via a router, then you are setting up a local-area connection; with a LAN connection, you are able to share files between other computers on the network as well as share a printer.

Step 2

Ascertain which network hardware components are probably installed on your PC. By default, nearly every modern desktop and laptop has an Ethernet port. However, it's more so for laptops that the manufacturer includes a Wi-Fi adapter, by default. Wireless adapters are not necessarily common on desktop computers.

You may have to look in your computer's user's manual to determine which components the original equipment manufacturer included with your system at the factory.

Step 3

Access the device management utility in your operating system to find network hardware components. Windows users can access the Device Manager by first clicking on the Start button in the bottom left-hand corner of the desktop. Type "device manager" in the search box at the bottom of the Start Menu and then press Enter.

Step 4

Find the category that shows hardware network components. In the case of Windows that category is called "Network Adapters."

Step 5

Double-click on the network hardware components category to see the devices that operating system is currently detecting. You may see both an Ethernet and wireless device listed, if you are using a laptop.

If you don't see the device listed, then you may have to reinstall the device drivers for the networking hardware. See the manufacturer's owner's manual.


  • You may need administrator privileges to access the Device Manager as you try to detect hardware network components.

Sources and Citations

  1. " Connect to Bluetooth and other wireless or network devices." Microsoft Windows. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Feb. 2012. <>.
  2. " How do I fix network adapter problems?." Microsoft Windows. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Feb. 2012. <>.
  3. " Setting up a home network." Microsoft Windows. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Feb. 2012. <>.
  4. " Update a driver for hardware that isn't working properly." Microsoft Windows. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Feb. 2012. <>.
  5. " Why can’t I find a wireless network?." Microsoft Windows. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Feb. 2012. <>.
  6. "Basic network troubleshooting." Computer Hope's free computer help. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Feb. 2012. <>.
  7. "How do I find what network card and network I'm using?." Computer Hope's free computer help. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Feb. 2012. <>.
  8. "Installing a computer network card.." Computer Hope's free computer help. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Feb. 2012. <>.


By Adri Buckminster, published at 02/27/2012
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