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Can you help me with understanding of reliability of network adapters.

Most of the time servers do have at least 2 NIC's bonded to provide sort of a HA for it. So in case of one NIC fails, the second would still do the job.

I wonder which factors work when you use network adapters.

I know that, the most important and weakest part of any computer system is: storage (i.e HDD).

but how reliable actually network adapters are?

There are more expensive ones, and cheaper adapters.

In which cases do they actually fail? In what circumstances.

  1. May it be a intensive usage of them
  2. Time when it's on

In your experience how often you found yourself changing NIC's due to their fail?

Or just what's the typical lifetime of commodity NIC's?


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I don't like Realtek (a dosen of them have failed in my servers) and I like Intel very much. – brownian Mar 19 '12 at 8:43
in which circumstances they failed? Have you used Windows or Linux servers? – bakytn Mar 19 '12 at 8:48
Linux servers, different motherboards. No visual cause to fail .) Just "started to fail to transmit/receive packets", simple misbehaviour, which was cured by replacing the card. Oh, sorry! Not only realteks, but dlinks, more then former, too! – brownian Mar 19 '12 at 9:19
up vote 3 down vote accepted

If the only potential problem was NIC hardware failure, I probably wouldn't bother; I've never had one fail on me (in which the rest of the machine continued to run fine). There are, however, a number of other failure modes that I do bond for (in rough order of probability):

  • Cable failures / accidental removal;
  • Network maintenance;
  • Switch failure; and
  • NIC driver bugs (really only protected against by bonding between ports from different vendors).
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are you talking about a server environment? or just a desktop? It really make sense, what you have just written. – bakytn Mar 19 '12 at 8:38
I'm talking about any environment in which the costs of failure exceed the costs of implementing redundancy. – womble Mar 19 '12 at 8:42

I have never had my NIC's fail even when on very intensive usage. The only problems I ever had was with two different branded NIC's and incompatible drivers.

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probably it's actual for a Windows Servers :D or Linux too? – bakytn Mar 19 '12 at 8:39
That problem indeed persisted on Windows. – Lucas Kauffman Mar 19 '12 at 8:42

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