Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

Most computers come with ethernet these days, but if you have an older machine that doesn't, there are alternatives.

How can I connect to my DSL modem that has an ethernet cable if I don't have a network card? Is there a solution such that I can connect it through USB to my PC? I mean like a converter cable that connects to ethernet at one end and USB at the other?

The modem is a Linksys wireless ADSL modem.

There are several solutions to this problem, some involving converter cables and various other add-ons.

However, in my opinion the simplest answer is still the best.

The simplest answer is to just add a network adapter to your PC. It's proven technology and will get you the most reliable and, most likely, the fastest connection overall. Simple ethernet adapters are cheap these days, easy to install, and almost configure themselves.

Naturally, there are alternatives.

There's no such thing as a cable that just has USB at one end and ethernet at the other. The differences between USB and ethernet are much more than the shape of their plugs; USB and ethernet use different communications methods that are incompatible with each other.

However, there are USB-ethernet adapters. They're much more than "just a cable", because they actually include an ethernet adapter inside a small box at one end of the cable. If you can't actually install an ethernet card in your PC, then a USB-ethernet adapter might be a very reasonable alternative.

"The simplest answer is to just add a network adapter to your PC."

Since you have wireless, a third option is to skip ethernet and install a wireless card in your PC. Getting the wireless modem configured properly can sometimes be a challenge without a wired connection to access the configuration software, but once done, a wireless network adapter could be a good choice, as well.

Finally, there's another choice that comes to mind: swap your modem for one that supports USB directly. Several broadband modems now include not only an ethernet connection but a USB connection as well, allowing you to use either (although typically not both at the same time).

But in your shoes, I'd just grab an ethernet adapter and install it in the PC.

Article C2864 - December 7, 2006 « »

Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?

December 8, 2006 12:37 AM

Thank you so much for your help, you are so right because i found those cables with many heads One USB and the other head is eithernet and alot more.
But unfortunatly it was a waste of money because it was gonna burn my computer the head itself was producing smoke , and i understand why now, coz it is a totally differnt technology,cant be simply replaced.
about the wirless card i wouldnt want to put it in my PC because its slower than cables, but i wouldnt mind slower connection on my laptop + its more expensive :(.
and the eithernet card is just about 12 $.
I owe U leo ;) Best regards

Eli Coten
December 16, 2006 11:31 AM

Most DSL Modem's I've seen either come with a USB connection, Ethernet connection or both. Those that come with both, in my experience, usually *do* allow you to connect through both Ethernet and USB at the same time. These usually also include built-in routers. I have yet to see the variety mentioned in the above article where a modem would have both USB & Ethernet ports but only one of them is usable at any one time.

December 3, 2007 3:31 PM

Leo, I have a question. what if when I go to Device manager and I don't see anything that says network adapter what should I do.
by the way, I have an old computer which I put together (I took a power supply from another computer and some cards)
the computer is working but I can't go on the internet. it shows no info about network adapter.
I'm using a modem to access the internet
I used to use it for my laptop, until it received a shock. Now I'M BACK WITH A BIG DESKTOP.

September 24, 2008 3:19 PM

Just so you know, there is a modem that has a USB and a DSL port and it only lets you use one at a time. It is the Motorola SURFboard SB5120 Cable Modem. I am trying to use both at the same time but it only allows the first one that demands the internet. So the other will say "Limited or No Connectivity." If there are any settings to make this work then please let me know.

Bettie Gatewood
January 14, 2009 11:50 AM

I was unable to connect to, I called circut city (warrenty) the girl said I needed to configure a ethernet card, she told me how,but I have forgotten and would like to have the configuration again.I have a emachamine win2000

Vaibhav Jain
February 22, 2010 7:37 PM

Leo, I have a question. How is a computer without a network adapter able to connect to the network with a USB-modem? Where does the computer get its MAC or physical address from ?

The USB Modem - or any modem for that matter - acts as a network adapter in that regard.

Comments on this entry are closed.

If you have a question, start by using the search box up at the top of the page - there's a very good chance that your question has already been answered on Ask Leo!.

If you don't find your answer, head out to to ask your question.