Hardware

How to Use USB Ethernet Adapter

Let’s face it, wired connection is always faster and more stable than wireless. That’s why despite the improvements in wireless speed and connectivity, a lot of people still prefer the wired connection. Don’t get me wrong, wireless communication is one of the most significant technologies ever developed. In many ways, it has made our lives more convenient than before. There are, however, certain scenarios where wired connection is still the better option.

For mobility and portability, some modern laptops, especially those with slim form factors, include only a Wi-Fi card with no room for the bulky Ethernet port. Similarly, mobile phones and tablets are equipped with just wireless cards. The problem with Wi-Fi exclusivity is that, if the signal is erratic or slow, you won’t have any other way to get a good connection.

Furthermore, both your device and the wireless router you’re connected to should be using the same Wi-Fi version to maximize the wireless potentials of your network. For example, if your mobile phone is on Wi-Fi 6 but your router is on Wi-Fi 4, the performance will fall back to that of Wi-Fi 4 since it’s not forward compatible with Wi-Fi 6. Even if your device has a faster Wi-Fi but your router does not, connection will still be slower.

Situations like this would usually call for the wired connection if you need a faster connection. Luckily, a USB dongle can bridge your device to a wired connection even if it lacks an Ethernet port.

USB Ports

There is always a USB port in almost any gadget or computer. USB ports either supply power to the device, transfer data from one device to another, and in most cases, provide both functionalities. USB has had several enhancements over the years. Today, we can see different varieties of USB like Micro-USB, USB-A, and the most recent, USB-C. Because it’s a tiny, uncomplicated, and versatile port, USB has become a crucial part of any device and to not include it in the design is a mortal sin.

Any external device with USB connection can work with the host device with the same USB connector. As such, manufacturers have produced a USB Ethernet Adapter for the wired connection to be available to USB-enabled devices with no Ethernet port.

USB Ethernet Adapter

A USB Ethernet Adapter is a USB device with an RJ45 port built for devices with no or not enough Ethernet ports. It’s a handy accessory in cases where the Wi-Fi signal quality is poor or is just not fast enough to handle the tasks you’re working on like gaming, video streaming, and large file transfers.

USB Ethernet adapters are also a cheaper alternative if the wireless card or the Ethernet port in your device is no longer working. Instead of replacing the whole motherboard or sending it in for a repair, you can just purchase a USB Ethernet adapter to save you some bucks. USB Ethernet adapters are lightweight and portable; you can carry it with you anywhere you go.

No matter what type of USB port you have in your system, there’s an Ethernet adapter for you. Micro-USB, USB-A, and USB-C Ethernet adapters are all out in the market and you can choose from different brands, colors, designs, and sizes to your liking. Lightning and Thunderbolt variants are also available for devices that support such standards.

Speed

The speed of the USB Ethernet adapter depends on the USB standard it’s built on. A USB 2.0 adapter’s speed will max out at 480Mbps, sufficient for 4k video streaming and file transfers. Likewise, a USB 3.0 adapter can go as fast as 1000Mbps, which can support online games, 8k videos, and large file transfers. The adapters are also backward and forward compatible, which means a USB 2.0 adapter can work with a USB 3.0 device and vice versa.

How to Use the USB Adapter

USB Ethernet Adapters are easy to install; just make sure you have an Ethernet cable with you. Any Ethernet cable will do but for faster connection, Cat 6 or Cat6A is recommended. Just like any other USB device, just plug the USB connector of the adapter to the USB port of your computer. Next, connect one end of an Ethernet cable to the RJ45 port of the adapter and the other end of the cable to the Ethernet port of the router, switch or any networking device you need to connect to.

Some adapters are plug-and-play while some others will require you to install the device driver first. Depending on the manufacturer, a CD driver is usually included with the device while some drivers are downloadable online from the manufacturer’s website. After the driver installation, you’re ready to go online using the wired connection! There are usually indicator lights to help you know that the adapter has already established a good connection with the router. Check out the manual for you to be familiar with the adapter’s features as it varies for different manufacturers.

USB Ethernet Adapter for Mobile Devices

USB Ethernet adapters are not only for computers. There are also adapters built for smartphones and tablets. Newer versions of iPad and iPhones are normally equipped with Lightning connector while Android phones and tablets have USB-C on them. Older models have older types of USB ports. Always check your device’s USB port before you make a purchase to get the right adapter.

Some adapters will not work with older versions of your device’s software. For Android devices for example, adapters normally require Android Marshmallows (Version 6.0.1) or later versions. Different devices have different requirements. It’s best to read the adapter’s specs to make sure it will work with your device.

Connecting the USB Ethernet adapter to your device is pretty straightforward. Before you connect the adapter, switch off the Wi-Fi of your device. Plug in the USB end of the adapter to the USB port of your device. Next, connect one end of the Ethernet cable to the Ethernet port of the adapter and the other end to the Ethernet port of the router. Ethernet adapters for mobile devices are automatically detected and won’t require any drivers but then again, better check the adapter’s specs to make sure you don’t need the driver for it.

Conclusion

If, for whatever reason, you need to switch to a wired connection but your device doesn’t have an Ethernet port, a USB Ethernet adapter will save the day. It’s lightweight, portable, and affordable with different designs that would suit your style. As long as there is a USB port on your device, you can go wired, anytime.

About the author

Glynis Navarrete

A freelance blogger who loves to write about anything related to technology. Born and raised in the Philippines and worked in Singapore for eight years as Technical Support for a wide range of IT equipment. Took a dive into the world of freelancing and now enjoying doing what I’m passionate about while not losing touch with technology.