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What is the difference between Teaming and Bridge for NIC's?

Bridge is a software solution to combine multiple nic's for more speed, team is a hardware/software solution.

When you Team two or more NIC's (through HARDWARE) you need to have the same make and model NIC's because using Teaming, this software uses "redundancy for fall over" when a NIC fails the other one carries on with the job.

Some major computer manufactures of Servers offer this solution because they realize that a server has to have a network connection at all times, the teaming is built in to either add on NIC cards or with newer motherboards embedded devices. Newer motherboards have up to eight NIC chipsets and the firmware to team all the NIC's to one MAC (Machine Address Code) or spread them across two to four team sets.

Thus the server has multiple redundant network connections to insure network connectivity at all times, this also spreads the workload from one or two NIC's on to more NIC's.

Windows Bridge for NIC's (Network Interface Card) is a software solution where as Teaming is hardware!

Where as with the Windows Bridge when a NIC fails (not disabled or the network cable disconnected) the it will be dissolved. When it is dissolved you lose network connectivity until you correct the problem either by replacing the failed device or disabling the embedded device in the BIOS.

Where as with hardware teaming if a NIC fails the computer will not lose network connectivity, the good NIC or if there are multiple NIC's being teamed the good devices will continue to work thus the "fall over on fail" keeps your computer connected to the network.

But what if you have two or three NIC's in your workstation and want to combine those NIC's for increased speed on your LAN.

Is this possible? Yes, indeed! Bridge the NIC's in to one network connection.

"Network Bridge provides an inexpensive and easy way to connect local area network (LAN) segments." From the help file of Windows.

Lets say you have three network interface cards (NIC's) in your computer, three separate manufactures of embedded network cards, two are wired, one is wireless.

By using this option you can add all three of these embedded NIC's together and come up with a network connection that exceeds 200 MBPS connect speed. How cool is that?

Well there are some small problem with this scenario -

  • To use the wireless NIC you need a wireless switch on your network or in the case of the wired NIC's a wired switch.
  • Another thing about using a it, is that once the connection gets to your router or ISP modem the connect speed is down to 100 MBPS or less.

Why would the speed drop at the router or the cable/dsl modem?

  • Cable/DSL modems are wired for 100 MBPS, your modem will connect at the speed you are contracted for with your ISP.

Now that we have decided that our LAN switch can handle 100 MBPS how do you go about making the two wired NIC's in to one connection?

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It is all software, and it is supplied by MS with the Operating System.

To do the deed right click on My Network Places, select Properties from the menu.

Next highlight the two NIC's you want to combine. Follow the prompts.

Now if you selected 'Show icon in notification area when connected' you should see three network icons. Mouse over each one will be 'Network Bridge' and you should see the connect speed twice of one of the other NIC's.

One thing that I have noticed with the dissembler NIC's is if one is 1 GBPS and one is 100 MBPS the Network will report 1 GBPS connect speed even when both are set to 100/Full, but with a network monitoring utility I see 200 MBPS.

Unlike teaming which funnels all the data through the software then to the NIC's where as a Network combined NIC's will split the data and send half through one NIC and the other half through the second NIC, not a true 200 MBPS network connection but it does get the job done faster.   Smile

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As you can see using the MS Bridge you can increase your network connectivity speed.

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