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Why do I need two Ethernet ports on my new computer ?

The common application for the single Ethernet port these days is to allow users to connect to their home/office network or the Internet.

Two onboard Fast Ethernet ports was once only a feature of server grade machines, but in recent times Enthusiast or Professional classes Computers and main boards now offer two Fast Ethernet Ports onboard and we shall cover a number of potential uses for this pair of ports

The term for a network node which has two or more network interfaces is dual homed, or multi homed. So if we have a computer with dual networking, it is dual homed.

So, why do we need two ports ?

  • You wish to use a specific dual homed PC as a Gateway/Router to share an Internet connection coming from a dedicated modem instead of using a dedicated device
  • You wish to use a specific dual homed PC as a powerful Firewall paired with a dedicated modem/router instead of using a dedicated firewall, such as the one in many routers.
  • You wish to use a specific dual homed PC as a Bridge, Router or Forwarder to connect two similar networks which cannot be connected directly due to issues with the physical location, wiring or hub/switch constraints
  • You want the ability to access a Private network/intranet and the Internet (or another private network) at the same time, yet keep the two networks  isolated for network bandwidth and security reasons
  • You wish to increase the Ethernet bandwidth available to a workstation or server by using teaming or bonding features, which combine Ethernet ports

These scenarios are also applicable to network add-in cards, and one may install as many cards as free expansion slots

The difference between integrated and the add-in scenarios is as follows

Those who install extra Network cards typically know why and how to implement a scenario using several network cards. A user who purchases a new Enthusiast or workstation grade system may not be aware of the possibilities that are available with the included pair of Ethernet ports.

In this article we will provide an overview covering the common scenarios for dual networking for Windows Platform, which we consider relevant to the mainstream or power user both in a home or office environment , especially since the advent of the connected digital home and office

Ethernet Teaming/Bonding may be covered in a future article as this feature is typically used in very specific scenarios where high bandwidth is required or in server installations. Intel Networking Solutions now allow an Intel Adapter to be teamed with another adapter of different vendor for instance and there is detailed documentation included with the the software suite on how to use this feature

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