An Ethernet connection can be used to connect to high speed DSL or cable Internet connections. Ethernet connections can also be used to connect to Local Area Networks (LANs) to access and share devices such as printers. You will need an Ethernet-compatible network card to access and use Ethernet connections.
Verify that your computer has an Ethernet-ready network card or slot. On the outside of a computer or laptop, the Ethernet connection port looks a bit like a large telephone jack. If there is no network card present, you will need to purchase and install one. A decent one can be purchased for under $25 (see Resources). Install the network card by turning off the computer, removing the casing, and pushing the network card firmly into place in an available PCI slot. Laptop users should use a USB-to-Ethernet adapter, since installing an internal network card on a laptop can be difficult.
Connect the Ethernet cable to the Ethernet connection port on the network card. It is advised that the Ethernet cable be a CAT5 cable, as this is the most common kind of Ethernet cable available (see Resources).
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Connect the other end of the Ethernet cable into your DSL or cable modem. If you are accessing a Local Area Network, connect the other end to the available Ethernet port on the router or network wall jack.
Click on "Control Panel" and "Network Settings" on a Windows-based PC. Mac users should go into "System Preferences" under the Apple logo in the menu bar (note that a Mac may automatically detect the new network connection). Configure the Ethernet connection so that it will connect to the network or Internet connection. Settings vary widely, so consult your Internet service provider or network administrator for any usernames, passwords or specific IP addresses. Enter this information into the related input fields in the Network Settings section of the Control Panel.