Using local area connections

Typically, computers running Windows are connected to a local area network (LAN). When you install Windows, your network adapter is detected, and a local area connection is created. It appears, like all other connection types, in the Network Connections folder. By default, a local area connection is always activated. A local area connection is the only type of connection that is automatically created and activated.

If you disconnect your local area connection, the connection is no longer automatically activated. Because your hardware profile remembers this, it accommodates your location-based needs as a mobile user. For example, if you travel to a remote sales office and use a separate hardware profile for that location that does not enable your local area connection, you do not waste time waiting for your network adapter to time out. The adapter does not even try to connect.

If your computer has more than one network adapter, a local area connection icon for each adapter is displayed in the Network Connections folder.

Examples of LAN connections include Ethernet, Token Ring, cable modems, DSL, FDDI, IP over ATM, IrDA (Infrared), wireless, and ATM-emulated LANs. Emulated LANs are based on virtual adapter drivers such as the LAN Emulation Protocol.

If changes are made to your network, you can modify the settings of an existing local area connection to reflect those changes. For information about modifying a connection, see To configure a connection With the Status menu option in Network Connections, you can view connection information such as connection duration, speed, amounts of data transmitted and received, and any diagnostic tools available for a particular connection. For information about using the Status menu option, see To view the status of a local area connection

If you install a new LAN adapter in your computer, the next time you start your computer, a new local area connection icon appears in the Network Connections folder. Plug and Play functionality finds the network adapter and creates a local area connection for it. You can add a PC card while the computer is on, and you do not have to restart your computer. The local area connection icon is immediately added to the folder. You cannot manually add local area connections to the Network Connections folder.

You can configure multiple LAN adapters through the Advanced Settings menu option. You can modify the order of adapters that are used by a connection, and the associated clients, services, and protocols for the adapter. You can modify the provider order in which this connection gains access to information on the network, such as networks and printers.

You configure the device a connection uses, and all of the associated clients, services, and protocols for the connection, through the Properties menu option. Clients define the access of the connection to computers and files on your network. Services provide features such as file and printer sharing. Protocols, such as TCP/IP, define the language your computer uses to communicate with other computers.

Depending on the status of your local area connection, the icon changes appearance in the Network Connections folder, or a separate icon appears in the taskbar. By design, if a LAN adapter is not detected by your computer, a local area connection icon does not appear in the Network Connections folder. The following table describes the different local area connection icons.


The local area connection is active

Network Connections folder

The media is disconnected

Network Connections folder

The media is disconnected


The driver is disabled

Network Connections folder

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