Configuring Network Adapter Properties – CompTIA A+ 220-802: 1.6

The network adapter configuration is the first step when connecting to the network. In this video, you’ll learn how to set adapter configuration settings and configure quality of service (QoS) options.

<< Previous Video: Windows IP Address ConfigurationNext: Preventive Maintenance Best Practices >>

When you’re setting up a network connection on your computer, there are a number of adapter card configurations that you have to make sure are absolutely correct. At a very basic level, we have to set things like the link speed and the duplex that’s being used on this network. Generally, we can set this to be auto negotiation, very simple to have that set up. But on your network, if your devices are not configured to auto negotiate or they’re hard-wired for a particular speed or duplex, then you have to match this inside of your computer configuration. If, for some reason, the auto negotiation does not work properly and gives you the wrong settings, or you have a mismatch between the devices you’re connecting to and the configuration in Windows, then you will have very bad performance over the network.

There are many different options that you’ll find in that advanced settings for your adapter. But one that becomes useful for administrators is an option called Wake on LAN. That means you can have your computer hibernate or go to sleep when you leave the office. And then when the administrator needs to have access to your computer, maybe to perform a software upgrade overnight, your machine will automatically wake up and be able to perform that upgrade, and then after a certain amount of idle time, go back to sleep. That way, you’re not wasting energy, electricity, and spending money on using that. Instead, your computer is only available when you need it to be available, and then it goes back to sleep when you’re done.

To see some of these adapter properties, you can go to your Start menu under Control Panel in Windows 7. In Windows Vista, you can choose the Network and Sharing Center. And you can look at the Adapter Settings. And if you right mouse click on the Adapter and choose Properties, there will be an option at the top that tells you what type of adapter you’re using. And you have the option in here to configure the adapter.

Now, all of these settings that are in here can be found under the Advanced tab. You can see all of the different options. Link Speed and Duplex, for instance, is listed inside of that piece, as well. This is also where you might configure other settings. You don’t want to change too many of these without knowing exactly what you’re going to configure. But this is a great place to go to configure things like jumbo packets, the number of locally administered addresses, priority and V-LAN information, all inside of that Adapter Settings Config.

The ability to have your computer Wake on the LAN whenever something is needing to access your device is handled under a Power Management tab. And if your adapter supports this configuration, then you’ll have the option to allow this device to wake the computer. Not all adapters will allow this capability. And it does have to be configured in the BIOS of your computer. But if your computer supports that, it can be a useful tool for your network administrators.

We have so many different kinds of applications that are used on our networks these days. We have voice over IP telephones. We have streaming video. We have the normal applications that we would use to browse the internet. And each one of those uses the network in different ways. In fact, you might want to set voice communication to have a priority over someone who’s streaming video, for instance. And you can do that through a capability called Quality of Service, or QoS.

There are many different ways to manage Quality of Service on a network. One method that is built into Windows uses something called a Differentiated Services Code Point, or a DSCP. These are bits and settings that are configured in the network traffic themselves. And because they’re part of the packets going over the network, all of your infrastructure devices that are participating in this quality of service need to be able to understand those.

In IP version 4, this is something that is in the Type Of Service, or the ToS field. If this is IP version 6, there is a setting in the protocol called the Traffic Class octet. We would manage this in Windows through a Local Computer Policy. If you’re on a domain, it’s handled through Group Policy. If we were configuring this on our computer, we go to Computer Configuration, Windows Settings, and Policy-based QoS.

To build a management front-end for this, I’m going to start the Microsoft Management Console, MMC. Its going to ask for elevated rights on Windows Vista and Windows 7. And you can see this is a blank, or default, management console. We can build out a customized console. We can save it, and later on we can simply load that console. But since this one is brand new, I’m going to choose the Add/Remove snap-in. And I’m going to choose the Group Policy objects. And I’m going to do this just for the Local Computer. And that looks good.

If I click OK, you’ll see now there is a Local Computer Policy that I can set for my Computer Configuration. Under the Windows settings are the options for Policy-based QoS. Now, you can see the default is there is no configuration for Quality of Service, but under the More Actions, I could choose to Create a New Policy for the Quality of Service. And this is where I would create a specific DSCP value, and I would associated it with a policy inside of my computer.

So if I wanted to have a voice over IP application that is going to be using a specific DSCP value, I could then specify what the rate is for this particular traffic. So you can choose in here, maybe one megabit is a good setting, and then I could even say, use this and associate this with a particular application. Maybe I want to have it associated with a particular HTTP server application. Maybe I’m accessing a web server out on the internet, and this is how I would like that information to apply.

Now, by doing this doesn’t change any of the traffic flows through my computer. It’s simply setting those bits inside the network packets. It’s still up to the other infrastructure devices on my network to be able to police that information and set the quality of service itself. But this, at least, is going to identify, or tag, that information and as it’s going through the network, will rely on those infrastructure devices to be able to allow or disallow the speeds of access for these applications and these tools that we need to use.

By setting these configurations, I’m not performing any type of change to the traffic priorities on my computer. I’m simply setting bits inside of my network packets. It’s still up to the other infrastructure devices that recognize those bits to be able to then police and manage the quality of service. But once I’ve configured it here, and I’ve configured my infrastructure devices, I now have prioritization of certain applications over others just by setting these quality of service configurations in my Windows operating system.