3.1. Understanding Networking Components

When setting up a network, you must have the appropriate hardware and software in place to allow systems to communicate with one another. Because this chapter focuses on the software components needed to allow Windows to network, you can assume that you have all the necessary hardware in place. You have a hub or switch, at least two computers and network cards to go in the computers, and the appropriate cabling to connect the network cards to the hub/switch is already connected. After all the hardware is in place, consider what you have to do at the operating system level to get these computers talking. Not only do you need the physical hardware in place but you also need to load software components, such as a network card driver, protocol, service, and client software. These are the four major software components required to network.


When building your network, it is important to identify the four major software components that allow a Windows OS to function in a networking environment:

  • Network adapter driver

  • Network client

  • Protocol

  • Services


I discuss each component in detail in the sections that follow. Be sure to be comfortable with them for the A+ exams!

3.1.1. Network adapter driver

The network adapter driver is the physical network card inserted into one of the computer's expansion bus slots, connected as a USB device, or integrated into the system board. The network card is responsible for sending information onto the network ...

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