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How do I "Load Balance" with two NICs?

dwielgosz asked
Last Modified: 2008-11-13
I have two new DELL servers and each one has two NICs in each server.  When i look at the properties on any of the NICs, I see several properties listed such as,

Client for Microsoft Networks
File and Printer Sharing for Microsoft Networks
Internet Protocol (TCP/IP)

These are all enabled. There is also an item that is called,

Network Load Balancing

This item is not enabled. The description for it says, "This component provides TCP/IP load balancing functionality"

The way I read this is that if this item is enabled on both NICs in a server and the NICs are given the same IP address, then they will act as one virtual NIC and will share the load on that server. That's just how I interpret all that stuff. However, I just did a search on EE and read around 12 questions regarding two NICs in a PC and Load balancing and I do understand the concept of Load balancing in regards to clusters of servers, etc but the impression I got from reading the Q & As was that that's not what "load balancing" is.  Is it? Is there this other type of load balancing and does it help on, for instance, a web server with medium demand? Is that then dependent on having the connections from those two NICs going to different switches to realize any type of gain on throughput? I am totally confused on this one. Also is it possible to do a reservation in DHCP for that address when you have two different hardware MACs?
Watch Question

NLB is for load balancing among clusters of servers.

you want to use a 3rd party product like Intel Proset or similar from the NIC manufacturer to set up "teamed" or "NIC teaming".

What is the NIC manufacturer and model #?


That's what has me confused about this. I understand the LB among clusters but the properties of the card do ot refer to "teaming" etc, just "Network Load balancing".
Both cards are Intel PRO/1000 MT, actually all four NICs in the two servers are....
OK, download this software from Intel:


The Proset software is what you need...(if the link doesn't work, go to intel.com's download center, choose your NIC then choose the first link for the new 2003 drivers with Proset).

After that software is installed, it's pretty intuitive at that point.  You can use the teaming configuration to set up your NIC teaming.


OK, brb


I just looked at that server's apps and found an installed app by the name, "Intel PROSet for Wired Connections". Is this what you're referrring to?
Yep...that's it.

I don't remember the exact "tabs" but if you cannot figure it out, I'll remote into a server here that has it configured and check it out.


I don't think there's too much to figure out really, it looks like one of those "typical" add-on apps that tells you every detail possible about a hardware device, in this case the adaptor(s). It does have tweaks for the utmost control of the various aspects of the protocol and it's functionality. Nothing at all regarding "team" or "teaming" or "Network Load Balancing" for that matter. But getting back to what I was referring to earlier about the properties of each NIC (located in Control Panel/Network Connections/Individual NIC) In the little window where the various protocols are listed (which Microsoft refers to as "Items") There is a "Item" that is called "Network Load Balancing". When the checkbox is checked-enabled- the properties button becomes active. In that window that opens (properties of NLB) are three tabs, one is called "Cluster Parameters", another is "Host Parameters" and the last one is named "Port Rules". No reference again to "Teaming". Am I looking at what I need, but not "seeing" it?
No...again NLB is strictly for balancing between actual servers, not NICs on a single server.

See there...


I must not have the correct adaptors then because I read the first article and it says to right-click on the adaptor to get access to a wizard and I don't have any of that. The article also refers to "Intel SERVER Adaptors" I don't see that here either. One of my servers is a Windows Web server 2003 and the other is a Windows Server 2003 (standard)
I have a server with the 1000MT's installed.  Lemme get on that and get you exactly what you need.
I see the issue...I'm using an older Proset that has it's own GUI and the new drivers use the Windows Device manager to initiate the GUI.  Are you saying you don't see anything like that in Device Manager?


what am I looking for in DM?
Don't know...lol.  I'm putting 10.2 on one of my servers now to see.


blind leading the blind....hehe I should say the visually impaired leading the visually impaired.
OK figured it out.

Strange that they (Intel) decided to go to this.

You have to install the 10.2 drivers with the complete install, then reboot.  If you don't reboot it won't show up right.

After rebooting, go to Device Manager, and then right click on a NIC and choose properties.

Then you'll see the other tabs I'm referring to, including "teaming".


I'll try it on the web server the DC can't be rebooted right now. where do I get that driver again? never mind I know.


OK, I ran the driver update and found the "teaming" tab on the properties page. So now when I look at network connections, I not only have #1 and #2, I also have a #3 that has it's own property sheet and all just like a totally seperate NIC. My question now is, how do I set this up? I want to have the two original NICs appear as one. Can they share the same IP addy? Is that what the #3 is about? If so, do I then de-configure #1 and #2 and just configure #3 instead?
Yes, that's right.  The "#3" is the teamed "virtual NIC".

You set up #3 with an IP address that the 2 share...

make sure you follow this link well:  http://www.intel.com/support/network/sb/cs-009747.htm

You need to be aware of what type of teaming you are doing and whether your switch supports it correctly.

Remember this part as well:

For Windows* Server 2003, Windows 2000, and Windows NT* 4.0, there is a utility within PROSet on the Advanced Settings Team page that allows the ANS software to query the switch partner for configuration settings. If the switch appears to be configured differently than necessary for the team mode chosen in PROSet, a troubleshooting page will appear in PROSet listing possible corrective actions. When running this test, the team temporarily loses network connectivity. See PROSet II Help for limitations.

(because sometimes the switches settings can mess or override the type of teaming you are wanting to turn on)

Then after reading that link well, go here:


on the left scroll to "Express Teaming".

This is the easiest to set up and work with...however some switches may not support it correctly, or you may want even more advanced features.

If that's the case go to:

on the left scroll down to "ANS Teaming" and "Windows Server 2003".

This is the "advanced" portions and will require you to really know what you are doing.  But allows for much more powerful teaming setups.

ON a personal note, I like 802.3ad myself, but your switch has to support it fully.  It allows for fault-tolerance AND load-balancing, and works with all protocols not just routing protocols.


We've got a baseline 3com switch, which is unmanaged, "el cheapo". Assuming that it's not fully compatable with the standard that you cited in regards to the VLAN protocols, This "teaming" feature probably wouldn't be the best idea then for a DC (& exchange server). I was thinking about using it on the webserver which will be located in a DMZ. Any opinions on that?
In that case I would recommend using ALB.  It works with any switch, and you can enable RLB as well so that it does both outgoing and incoming traffic (but only routable protocols, but that's ok on a webserver), and it will provide fault tolerance too:

Adaptive Load Balancing (ALB) uses software to balance routable traffic among a team of two to eight adapters (must include at least one server adapter) connected to the same switch. On computers running Windows NT 4.0, Windows 2000, and Windows Server 2003, ALB balances routable transmit traffic. With Receive Load Balancing (RLB) enabled, it balances IP receive traffic. The software analyzes the send and transmit loading on each adapter and balances the rate across the adapters based on destination address. Adapter teams configured for ALB also provide the benefits of fault tolerance.

ALB does not load balance non-routed protocols such as NetBEUI and some IPX* traffic.

You can create an ALB team with mixed speed adapters. The load is balanced according to the adapter's capabilities and the bandwidth of the channel.


I had it set to ALB initially and I did the switch test and it told me that it was plugged into a hub. Not bad. I plugged both RJs into the switch and it returned that Spanning Tree Protocol was active on the network and it could slow down connections. It suggested that I configure those ports on the switch to correct that. It (switch) is unmanaged though.

I don't see how I can enable ALB and also RLB on the same team. It appears that you have to select either/or of the five modes that are listed?
It will say it's plugged into a hub if it's an unmanaged "dumb" switch probably.

ALB should work ok...spanning tree shouldn't matter, especially on a small simple network.

If you select ALB, I think you can then enable the RLB portion (since it is part of ALB).

I'll have to get to the server though to see for sure on mine....
Also, after enabling ALB, you can test by sending a ping test from another machine to it using ping MACHINENAME -t

then remove a cable from one of the NICS and verify that the ping test didn't start failing.

I think you'll need to remove the cable from the actual nic itself not the switch, because of the way the software works (sensing that the actual NIC is offline)

That will test fault-tolerance.  Load balancing is a bit trickier to test.


Do I need to configure "VLAN" on the team's property sheet?
This one is on us!
(Get your first solution completely free - no credit card required)


When it comes time to assign the team an IP addy I can do that in the property sheet for the new "Network Connection" that the process created then?  I suppose I should get rid of the two reservations that I had set up in the DHCP server for the two seperate NICs also.


Well great! Thanks a ton for the walkthrough on this. I learned a lot of new things in the process. Thanks for taking the time. I will leave it enabled on the webserver and leave it be on the domain controller. Your assistance earns you an A+
When it comes time to assign the team an IP addy I can do that in the property sheet for the new "Network Connection" that the process created then?

Yes, that's correct.

No problem, thanks for the points.  I learned something myself in regards to Intel changing where the GUI is now.

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