HOWTO - Installing an Ethernet Adapter in 11 Steps

e-smith, inc.

This HOWTO guides you through the process of installing an ethernet adapter in most computers. If you prefer, a computer shop can do this for you quickly and inexpensively.

While installing an ethernet adapter is a fairly straightforward process, computer components can be somewhat fragile. We do not accept liability if you accidentally break your computer's hardware.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The circuitry inside your computer consists of metal components (chips, resistors, connections) mounted onto plastic cards or boards. This metal circuitry can be damaged by your body's static charge if it comes into direct contact with your skin. Some people wear a special wrist band that eliminates static to prevent this kind of damage. Another way of releasing your body's static charge is to touch a grounded metal object before handling any circuitry.

Step 1: Disconnect your computer from everything.
Step 2: On the back panel of your computer, you will see a number of slots, each about 1/2-inch tall by 4 inches wide (1 cm by 9 cm). Some slots may have sockets and/or plugs emerging from them; the others will be covered by blank metal panels. Once installed, your ethernet adapter will replace one of the blank metal panels with a socket that can be connected to the network.
Step 3: Open up your computer. This typically involves removing at least one screw that holds the casing to the computer's metal frame. You may also need to depress one or two tabs that hold the casing to the frame. When sliding the casing off, be careful that wires and cables inside the computer do not catch on the casing and become dislodged.
Step 4:

Identify the PCI slots inside the computer. You'll insert the ethernet adapter into one of these slots (or two if you are installing a pair of ethernet adapters). The slots run perpendicular to the spaces that you identified on the back of the computer (either on the floor or side wall of the computer). They look like this:

You will install your PCI ethernet adapter(s) in the shorter (2.8 inches or 7 cm long) PCI slots. (The larger slots are for ISA adapters. Some computers include a "Bi" slot in the middle where you can install either a PCI or ISA adapter. Hence in this example there are eight visible slots but room for only seven adapters.)

Step 5: A tower computer will need to be placed on its side, so that the PCI slots are on the "floor" of the inside of the computer. (This is because you might have to apply significant pressure to insert the adapter, and you don't want to tip your computer over.) The PCI slots in desktop computers should already be on the "floor" of the computer.
Step 6:

Pick the PCI slot for your adapter and remove the metal plate which covers the slot's exit point at the back of the computer. On most computers, this involves removing the screw holding the metal plate in place. (Be sure to keep the screw - you'll need it later.) In some computers, the metal plate pops out manually and there is no screw holding the metal tab in place.

Note: If you drop the screw into the computer, it's best to lift the computer up and tip it over until the screw falls out. This avoids the danger of accidentally touching metal circuitry in the computer.

Step 7: Remove your ethernet adapter from the packaging, setting safely aside any diskettes, T connectors or screws included in the packaging . Remember: you may touch the plastic on the ethernet adapter card and the metal faceplate, but you should not touch the metal circuitry on the card.
Step 8: Orient your ethernet adapter. On one end of the card, there is a metal plate, which will replace the blank metal plate you removed in Step 6. The angled portion of the metal plate fits over the screw hole. Along one edge of your ethernet card you will notice gold pins that look like a gold comb, with teeth missing, mounted onto plastic. You will insert this edge into the PCI slot. Now that you know which edge of the ethernet adapter is inserted into the PCI slot and which end will exit the back of the computer, you can properly orient the card.
Step 9: Fit the socket out the back of the computer and align the golden pins over the PCI slot. Note that there is a break in the pins which must fit over the plastic bridge across the PCI slot. Once aligned, begin to push the ethernet adapter into place. Sometimes it takes a surprising amount of pressure to get it to click in. If you are encountering significant resistance, ensure that the gap in the golden pins aligns with the plastic bridge in the slot. Once you are sure they are aligned, it's safe to apply greater force, gently rocking and wiggling it to set it in place. Remember, only touch the plastic.
Step 10: Once the adapter is inserted into the PCI slot, secure it by screwing the angled part of the metal plate to the screw hole for that slot. Sometimes you must apply pressure to the metal tab in order to get the two to line up perfectly. You might have two screws - one from removing the original metal face plate and another that came with your ethernet card. This is one of those few instances where an extra screw is okay. On the other hand, if your computer's blank metal face plate was a pop-out tab AND your ethernet adapter did not come with a screw, you'll need to buy a screw for that hole from a computer store.
Step 11: Carefully replace the casing on your computer.