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Using local area connections

Updated: January 21, 2005

Applies To: Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2003 R2, Windows Server 2003 with SP1, Windows Server 2003 with SP2

Using local area connections

Typically, computers running Windows are connected to a local area network (LAN). When you install Windows, your network adapter is detected, and a local area connection is created. It appears, like all other connection types, in the Network Connections folder. By default, a local area connection is always activated. A local area connection is the only type of connection that is automatically created and activated.

If you disable your local area connection, the connection is no longer automatically activated. Because your hardware profile remembers this, it accommodates your location-based needs as a mobile user. For example, if you travel to a remote sales office and use a separate hardware profile for that location that does not enable your local area connection, you do not waste time waiting for your network adapter to time out. The adapter does not even try to connect.

If your computer has more than one network adapter, a local area connection icon for each adapter is displayed in the Network Connections folder.

Examples of LAN connections include Ethernet, token ring, cable modems, DSL, FDDI, IP over ATM, IrDA (Infrared), wireless, and ATM-emulated LANs. Emulated LANs are based on virtual adapter drivers such as the LAN Emulation Protocol.

If changes are made to your network, you can modify the settings of an existing local area connection to reflect those changes. The General tab of the Local Area ConnectionStatus dialog box allows you to view connection information such as connection status, duration, speed, signal strength, amounts of data transmitted and received, and any diagnostic tools available for a particular connection. The Support tab contains information on:

  • The address type which indicates how the address was assigned. For example the TCP/IP address is assigned by DHCP.

  • The IP address currently assigned for the session.

  • The IP subnet mask for the IP address currently assigned for the session.

  • The default gateway address of the IP device that allows access to other protocols.

The Support tab also has a Details button that displays detailed information about the properties of the network connection. This includes the addresses of dependent external devices. For information about using the Status menu option, see View the status of a local area connection.

If you install a new LAN adapter in your computer, the next time you start your computer, a new local area connection icon appears in the Network Connections folder. Plug and Play functionality finds the network adapter and creates a local area connection for it. If you are using a laptop computer, you can add a PC card while the computer is on. Plug and Play will identify the new card without you having to restart your laptop computer. The local area connection icon is immediately added to the folder. You cannot manually add local area connections to the Network Connections folder.

You can configure multiple LAN adapters through the Advanced Settings menu option. You can modify the order of adapters that are used by a connection, and the associated clients, services, and protocols for the adapter. You can modify the provider order in which this connection gains access to information on the network, such as networks and printers.

You configure the device a connection uses, and all of the associated clients, services, and protocols for the connection, through the Properties menu option. Clients define the access of the connection to computers and files on your network. Services provide features such as file and printer sharing. Protocols, such as TCP/IP, define the language your computer uses to communicate with other computers.

Depending on the status of your local area connection, the icon changes appearance in the Network Connections folder, or a separate icon appears in the taskbar. If a LAN adapter is not detected by your computer, a local area connection icon does not appear in the Network Connections folder. For a list of connection icons, see Network connection icons.

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