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What are the Pros and Cons of Using Two Network Cards?

By Troy Holmes
Updated May 16, 2024
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Many computers today have the capability of supporting dual network cards. There are several pros and cons to using this type of technology. The primary advantage of two network cards is the ability to simultaneously connect to two completely independent networks. This can increase productivity because one machine can work in two separate environments. The disadvantage is the potential security vulnerabilities that occur through sharing networks on one computer.

A computer with two network cards can connect to multiple computers. Most software developers require access to both a development environment and a separate test environment. Having two network connections enables the developer access to both networks through one computer. Without this feature, the developer is forced to use separate computers for each task.

Most large companies use training software to help employees learn the computer applications that are used by the company. These applications are typically maintained on a separate training network. A computer with two network cards can access both training and production networks. This configuration saves organizations money because the employee can use one computer for both training and production.

One of the primary issues with having dual network cards is security. A computer with two network cards can be used as a virus propagation device. If a hacker breaks into a computer with dual cards, he can send malicious software onto multiple networks.

If a computer is connected to both a production network and test network, the data from production can be easily compromised. This is because the production data will reside on a computer that is connected to a testing network. If the user accidentally sends this data over the test network, it can be seen by users who should not have access to it.

A business that requires secret network environments will not allow two network cards on a single computer. This is considered a security violation because of the vulnerability of data exposure and cyberspace infiltration concerns. Companies with secret proprietary data should refrain from using dual network cards.

Some companies use dual network cards as a method of managing overall network performance. With this configuration, one network will be connected to a slower capacity server with the other network connected to a high-bandwidth-capacity infrastructure. The computer applications can be configured to run on the appropriate network infrastructure.

Using dual network cards can be troublesome for most novice computer users. These network devices can have configuration issues when the computer is restarted. Because the dual network approach is typically an advanced configuration, it is not a default configuration for most operating systems.

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Discussion Comments
By Melonlity — On Dec 21, 2014

@Markerrag -- I don't know if that is right. If you think about it, a lot of computers effectively handle multiple cards, anyway. After all, if you have a wired connection and a wireless, then your computer has to decide which one is active and should be paid attention to and which one is not.

In some cases, it is very possible to be connected to one network with the wired connection and another with the wireless one.

But, that is another matter entirely. Juggling two adapters should be OK so long as the network adapter driver for each is hooked up right so that they are "aware" of each other and know "where" to communicate to avoid interference.

By Markerrag — On Dec 21, 2014

Forget about the security that comes with two network cards. That is nothing compared to the problem of those two cards coming in conflict with each other. Most operating systems are set up to handle one network card and get confused when they have to manage two.

If you want to add more than one network card, do some research and try to figure out how easy that is to do with your operating system and hardware configuration.

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