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What Is a Server Network Adapter?

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  • Written By: Helen Akers
  • Edited By: Jessica Seminara
  • Last Modified Date: 22 September 2016
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    2003-2016
    Conjecture Corporation
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A server network adapter is a network card that handles the communication and traffic between a computer network and its server. Usually, the server network adapter functions as a single IP address for all of the computers that are routed through the card. It facilitates the flow of data from each networking device.

In order to provide some sort of uniformity, a server network adapter is used to help network devices communicate with each other. A software application program, sometimes referred to as a server, uses the network card as a central communication hub. Each device on the network sends and receives commands through the server and its network adapter card. The adapter is the hardware device that makes these connections possible.

There are some network adapters that are designed specifically for virtualization, converged networks, and Ethernet connections. Each server network adapter is configured to accept fiber or Ethernet channels. Adapters designed for converged and virtual networks are able to accept both types.

The main function of a server network adapter is to manage and handle network traffic. It can help merge and consolidate network communications through a single device, increasing network speed and performance. Server adapters ensure communication compatibility and help identify authorized network devices.

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When computers in a local area network connect to an outside network source, such as the Internet, the network card serves as the single Internet protocol address. Therefore, each individual machine is somewhat transparent to the Internet service provider's server. Data requests and transmissions are routed through the network card and then on to the network device that initiated the request.

Server software applications physically recognize a network adapter card in order to route traffic. It is the application's way of knowing which device to use to transfer information. Essentially, the network card is a piece of hardware that connects the communication ports of several computer devices and peripherals.

Network adapters provide a means of back-up if one of the communication ports on the network fails. This can happen due to hardware defect issues, bandwidth issues, or temporary software glitches. Since the adapter is in charge of routing all of the communication and acts as a single port for all devices, it will automatically route traffic through the next available port. The individual devices on the network are not affected by this process if it does occur.

In this sense, network adapters reduce the possibility of system downtime. They create functional efficiency and support for potentially high amounts of traffic. Adapters not only streamline the network communication process, but increase its capacity as well.

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