How to Test an Ethernet Network Card

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When the internet goes down, it's always a calamity because it's pretty much always the worst possible time. And then you've got to figure out why it happened, which means you've got to know things like how to test an ethernet network card.

Testing ethernet network cards and figuring out why your internet isn't working properly can be a major chore if you're not sure about what you're doing. But once you learn how to perform this test, that's one more thing you'll know how to check to get everything working smoothly again.

What Is An Ethernet Network Card?

Ethernet network cards allow computers to connect to network servers or to other computers on the network without the use of wireless technology. This ensures a more stable, reliable, and fast connection.

The card connects to the network with a network cable. There are several different types of ethernet cards, but they all have the same function.

Ethernet network cards are inside the computer itself, so you cannot perform a visual inspection to know if the card is damaged in some way. You will have to learn how to test an ethernet network card by using software commands, which may take several steps and more than one test.

How to Test an Ethernet Network Card

If your ethernet network card has apparently stopped working, or you are having other network-related problems, there are a number of diagnostic tests you can perform to find the problem.

Try the Usual Stuff

Before you get into any serious troubleshooting where you have to pull up menus and unplug cords and uninstall device drivers, try all the usual stuff that you do whenever there is a connection problem.

Start by totally unplugging your router. Let it sit unplugged for a minimum of 60 seconds before plugging it back in.

Let the system reset for two minutes before you check the connection. During this time, reset your computer and let it restart completely.

Sometimes, software may need updates, or caches might need to be cleared, and a simple reset like this will fix all troubles. Always start with the easiest fixes first and then work your way up to the more complicated troubleshooting.

Check Your Connections

Your network card might not even be the problem when you’re experiencing connection troubles. It may be that the network card is fine, and the ethernet cable has become loose.

Make sure that the cable is securely clipped in at both ends. If you have a spare ethernet cable, swap the existing cable for a different one to see if the problem lies in the cable and not in the network card.

Ethernet cables wear out and stop working all the time, so try this simple fix first. If you get the same problem with a new and connected cable, you can check this off the list as the source of the problem.

Check the Port

Remove the end of the ethernet cable that is connected to the router and plug it into a different port. Test the connection again.

If the connection works on a different port, you need to replace the router. If the connection still does not work, no matter which port you try, troubleshoot other problems.

Test the Connection

So, the internet isn't working, or there's some other connectivity issue. First, run some tests to try to determine what kind of connection issue you are having because sometimes, your troubles are caused by WiFi and not by the ethernet connection.

Start by turning off the WiFi. To do this, right-click the WiFi icon.

You might need to navigate to the Network Settings from here, or you may be able to turn the WiFi off using this menu. Either way, turn it off and test your connection again.

If you are still having connectivity troubles, the problem definitely lies somewhere in your ethernet connection or the components that make the ethernet connection possible.

Go back to the Network Settings, which may be listed as Network and Internet Settings, and make sure the ethernet connection is enabled. This will often be indicated by a check mark inside a green circle.

From this same Network menu, you should also be able to search for available networks. Use this to check the Local Area Connection, which is the local network your computer is connected to.

If the Local Area Connection is not connected or disabled, try to enable this connection through the right-click menu.

Check Your Network Adapters

Check your network connections. If you're running a Windows OS, you can find this within the Control Panel under the Network and Sharing Center option.

From there, you will be able to see all the network adapters that are currently on your computer and the status of each one. This should give you a good indication of what’s working and what’s not working, but even if it tells you very little, you will know whether or not you have an issue with the ethernet card itself.

The status column will show the name of a network that the adapter is connected to, and will provide information such as "unplugged," "not connected," or "disabled." If your network adapter is "disabled," right-click on it and enable it via the menu.

If all network adapters are shown to be working properly and you are still having connectivity issues, there is some other problem at work involving the ethernet network card.

Check Your Network Drivers

Access your network adapters. If you are using Windows, this is available through the Control Panel.

Here, you will see the drivers for your network adapters. Right-click each driver to view its properties.

Make sure that there are no conflicts and that the correct drivers are enabled and updated. Do this by manually clicking on each driver using the right-click option and telling it to update the drivers.

Once you have checked for updates and installed any that were needed, reset your device and check your connection again.

If this doesn’t resolve the problem, uninstall and reinstall all the drivers, one at a time. Reset the computer again and check the connection again.

This process takes several minutes and can be tedious, but it may fix the connectivity issues you are having. If it does not, you know you are narrowing down the problem.

Ping Your Network

You can try pinging other machines on the network to test whether or not you have a solid connection. Pinging is simply the process of sending a packet of information to another machine and waiting for a response, which shows that the connection is sound.

To do this, go to the command menu prompt. If you are running Windows, this means you will open DOS and type your commands into the prompt that appears inside the pop-up window.

At the prompt, type "ping address" without quotes and replace the word address with an actual IP address or the name of a computer on the network.

If you have other computers on your network which can connect to the hub router, try using them to ping the computer that is having connection problems. Use the computer's network name if you don't know its IP address.

The name of devices connected to the network can be found in the Network and Sharing Center in Windows operating systems.

If you receive an error message saying "request timed out," then the connection is down. If you are successfully pinging other machines on your network but you can't share files or resources, then the troubles you are having may not be caused by a hardware problem involving your network card.

Ping the Internet

Send a ping to a website that is reliably up and running almost all the time, such as one of the most popular websites in the world. You know which ones those are.

Go to the command prompt and type the word ping followed by the URL of the web address. Data will instantly come back to you, displaying whether or not the information was sent to the website and if the website answered.

When this information comes back, it means the network card is functioning. If nothing comes back, either the website is down, or the network card is not working.

Use a different device, not connected to the network, to test the website. This is how you'll know if the problem is in the card or not.

Should the website work and once your other tests have been conducted, you know know the problem is with your network card and not with the internet itself, nor with any other part of the network.

Replace the Network Card

If it is a hardware problem, then the only practical way to know for sure is to replace the network card and try connecting to your network with another network adapter.

The most hassle-free way to do this would be to use a USB ethernet adapter and then just disable the drivers for your old network cards via the Device Manager.

If everything works and your connectivity issues are gone, it’s time to get a new network card or perhaps a new device altogether.

Unless you are skilled in working with hardware and you have a clean environment with which to conduct this work, you will probably want to have the network card changed out by a professional.

Testing Your Ethernet Card and Troubleshooting Connection Issues

If you have any connection issues, it's very helpful to know how to test your ethernet card. You might need to test it in several ways to narrow down the problem to the card and exclude other aspects of the network.

Once you know how to perform some basic tests, you can determine whether it's the network card that is causing your connectivity issues and then go on to replace or repair the card to get everything running smoothly again.

Ethernet Network Card FAQs

When should you get a new ethernet network card?

There are a couple of cases in which you should consider getting a new ethernet network card. If you've determined through troubleshooting that your ethernet network card is no longer functioning, you may want to replace the card to see if this gets the network running properly again.

If you are upgrading your network or your computer, you will probably need a new network card. And if you recently upgraded the network and didn't replace the card at that time, you probably should add a new card to get everything working well.

How can you tell an ethernet network card is no longer working?

There are a few different ways to troubleshoot an ethernet network card and determine if it is not working, or if another part of the system has stopped functioning as it should.

Try pinging another computer on the network or a website on the internet that you know is working. This is one way to determine whether or not the card is working as it should be.

How do you replace an ethernet network card?

Network cards are inserted into the PCI slot on a computer motherboard. The card should be gently pushed into place in this slot until you feel it snap into place.

A screw at the end of the bracket must be loosened and then tightened in order for the card to be secured.

This sounds much simpler than it actually is. You don’t want to pull a motherboard out of a computer and start moving components around unless you know how to work with hardware.

Because dust, hair, and lint can negatively affect a computer’s performance if the delicate components are exposed to this debris, you want to work with hardware in a clean room environment using the proper gloves and protection.

Changing out a network card is a big deal and should only be done by someone who is familiar with working with hardware like this.

Further Reading

8 Common USB VGA Adapter Problems

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Using a Category 6 Cable

Ethernet LAN Cable vs Ethernet Crossover Cable

How to Set up a LAN