Update Ethernet Drivers for Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7

Introduction

Ethernet refers to that whole set of technologies and standards for local area networking via cables. The specific device on your computer that gives it network connectivity based on this standard is the Ethernet card. This device is also sometimes called a network adapter or a network interface card. The software that gives this device its functionality and allows it to integrate with the system is the Ethernet driver.

The technology has undergone a lot of development thus it’s not surprising that several types of Ethernet cards exist. In terms of data transfer speed, Ethernet has progressed from the megabit to the gigabit range. The ‘Fast Ethernet’ label on an Intel 82559 controller chip for example refers to a 100 Mbps capacity. Meanwhile, the ‘Gigabit Ethernet’ classification on a Belkin ExpressCard means the device can accommodate faster downloads and uploads because of its 1 Gbps speed. Changes on the form factor have also been made. Besides the usual on-board and PCI expansion card configurations, there are now external network adapters that connect to your PC’s USB port such as certain models made by Cisco.

Common Problems

Whatever the form factor or capacity, it is always necessary that the Ethernet card meets the requirements of the motherboard and the operating system. Naturally the correct Ethernet driver must also be installed. This important aspect of the device’s installation is often missed with Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7. These operating systems automatically detect new hardware and load generic drivers for it. Although such drivers may make the Ethernet card operational, it may not open up all its features.

Hardware conflicts and inadequate Ethernet drivers can:

  • Reduce or make your connectivity inconsistent
  • Render your Ethernet card undetectable or non-functional
  • Create internal conflicts that may crash or keep your system ‘hanging’

Remember these negative effects every time you plug in new hardware, upgrade the operating system, or attempt any major modifications on your PC.

Troubleshooting

The physical connections are always the first thing to check with connectivity issues. If you happen to be the type that likes to move his desktop or laptop around, there’s a big chance the plugs have been dislodged or small breaks along the cable’s length have occurred.

To check the Ethernet card’s status and properties, use Windows’ Device Manager utility program and look for the device on the list. You can also try ‘pinging’ the device to test its performance in terms of communicating with other computers or devices on the network.

If the poor connectivity happens to be driver-related, then you could first try to reinstall the Ethernet card using the original driver on the installation CD. If the problem still persists then updating the Ethernet driver is the next solution. This involves identifying the specific device model and searching for the exact updated driver on the manufacturer’s website.

The most efficient way to go about this is to use a driver update tool. This is an application that can automate the whole process from identification and search to download and installation. Available right here is one such utility that will locate and install the correct Ethernet driver for your system. This driver update tool can also automatically update any other outdated system drivers you may have.

  1. Martha Dancy
    February 21st, 2012 at 11:43 | #1

    I keep getting notices to update my ethernet driver and I am not sure which one to download. I have vista home premium and a compact desk top computer. Sometimes the computer is on and the monitor does not get a connection and I have to fool around turning the computer on and off to get the monitor to work again. The monitor is OK, it is the computer ethernet driver that is the problem, I think. I would like to update the driver if necessary but am not sure how to do it correctly.

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