Uses, function, and how to identify an ethernet port

Ethernet port and cable on a network switch

An ethernet port is a networking interface that is found in networking devices that allows computers and other devices to connect to a network using a cable. The port is a female part of the connection where the male jack (RJ45) goes to connect the device to a wired network.

Ethernet ports are found on devices such as computers, servers, routers, and network switches among others. Computers are mostly connected using an ethernet port that is fixed on the wall and linked to either a router or switch.

The function of an ethernet port is to provide a means of connection between a networking device and the terminated ethernet cable for networking. They are used to connect computers and other networking components to the LAN or internet.

What is the function of an ethernet port? 

Ethernet ports are found in many modern digital devices and their primary function is to connect the device to a network. The network can be local, metropolitan, or the internet. For computers, they connect the computer to either a router or a switch which then enables them to connect to other computers in the network. Computers have only a single port but networking devices like routers and switches have multiple ports to distribute the network.

Benefits of  having an ethernet port

When your computer has a network port you can benefit from that in a number of ways.

  1. Wired internet is faster than when you connect using WIFI.
  2. Most offices have an ethernet port on the wall that you can connect to the network without requiring using passwords like on WIFI. You only need a terminated cable for connection.
  3. The same port can be used to connect different-speed ethernet networks. The ethernet speed can range from 10MBPS to 10GBPS.
  4. Most common ethernet ports connect using twisted pair cables which are cheaper and readily available.

What are ethernet ports used for?

Now that we know their function and the benefit we answer the next question on what are ethernet ports used for. They are used in different areas such as:

  1. Used to connect desktops and laptops to LAN and the internet.
  2. Ethernet ports are also used to connect modern digital and smart TV.
  3. Printers have an ethernet port that can connect to them so as to be used as a network printer for the organization.
  4. A wireless access point has an ethernet port that connects to the cable before it broadcast the WIFI to wireless devices.
  5. Ethernet ports on the network switch are used to connect multiple devices at the same time. It acts as a central distribution point for LAN.
  6. A router has an ethernet port that connects to the WAN side of the internet and another that connects to the network switch within the organization or directly to the computer. Router links between LAN and WAN or internet.

How to identify an ethernet port?

The port look similar to a phone jack but bigger in size. While the phone jack uses RJ11 network port uses RJ45 which is bigger. On your computers or laptop, it will be identified using the ethernet port symbol . Some computers may have both an ethernet port and phone jack side by side. Below is an ethernet port and phone jack from an old laptop computer.

an ethernet port side by side with phone jack. it also shows the symbol of Ethernet connection

When the cable and the port are working it should be blinking the green color.

How to connect an ethernet cable to a laptop without an ethernet port.

Most modern laptops are too slim to fit a network port and hence manufacturers don’t include them.  To connect your laptop if you don’t have an ethernet port you use a USB to ethernet adapter connector. The adapter has on one side either a USB or HDMI and on the other the ethernet port. Connect the USB on your laptop and the port to your cable. 

What is an ethernet port in the wall?

An Ethernet port in a wall is an interface that is built into an office building, classroom, or other places that can be used to connect multiple devices to the LAN. They are located near workstations and are used to connect computers, network printers, etc.

Most of the time you will connect your device using these port that is fixed on the wall. To do the connection you will need to have a properly terminated ethernet cable. One side of the cable connects to the device while the other to the ethernet port on the wall. You can buy an already terminated ethernet cable or you can locally terminate one if you have the tools.

How to check ethernet driver in windows 10

For the ethernet port to connect to the LAN or the internet your computer requires to have working ethernet drivers. To check if the drivers are installed and functioning as expected open the device manager on the windows operating system. Expand on network adapters to check all network-related drivers installed. You will get a window with a list similar to the one below.

checking ethernet driver in windows device manager

In case any of the drivers have an issue it will be shown by the icon having a caution icon. By default when you install the operating system drivers are installed. However, if they are not you can download them from the manufacturer’s website or use the driver’s pack to fix them.