7. Network Interface cards (NIC)
Network cards are needed if the computer does not have a built-in network chip on the motherboard. A NIC allows data packets to travel back and forth between computer and network.
Each network card / chip has an unique 48 bit identification code called its MAC address (short for 'Media Access Control). If the network card senses that the destination address within the data packet matches its MAC address, it allows the packet through, otherwise it just ignores it.
The MAC address is also very handy if a network manager want to only allow certain authorised machines to connect to the network. For instance the school may own a number of laptops for use by students, each one has its own MAC address, if any other laptop tries to plug in, it is just ignored.
A network card that uses a standard cable network socket.
Wireless Network card
This works in the same way as a standard Ethernet card, but it has the added complication of using wireless data packets. The card may take the form of an internal adaptor card as shown below
A Wi-Fi network card with an external aerial for the signal.
or it may take the form of a 'dongle' that attaches to an USB port as shown below.
Most laptops today have the wireless circuitry built in the motherboard and so does not need any additional devices to connect to a network.
Challenge see if you can find out one extra fact on this topic that we haven't already told you
Click on this link: Network Cards
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