Network Adapter speed

Hi Experts,

I need some clarification.

if my network adapter is running at 100mbps what does this actually mean?
if its running at 1GB speed I know this means I have a faster connection but to what exactly?
I ran a performance speed test that checks your download and upload speed and it hardly changed.

is it purely for the LAN? say moving files from a network share for example.

I know that its best to run it at 1gb if the NIC will take it, but considering its 10 times the 'connection' where should I see 10x the improvements?

The reason fpr the question is that I have 4 switches. 3 of them are 1gb compatible and 1 is cap'd at 100mbps.

if we replaced this with a 1GB switch would I see a noticeable improvement?
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Dave BaldwinFixer of ProblemsCommented:
The 'speed' is what the hardware will support.  However, the transfer rate is limited by the hardware and the software that is used.  A 1Gbps connection that goes thru a 100Mbps switch will be limited to 100Mbps.  Upgrading the 100Mbps switch will remove it from being a limit but will not necessarily make a noticeable improvement because you will still be limited by the software involved.
peggiegregAuthor Commented:
I don't know if I am wording it properly but what is this 'speed' used for? it is the speed of what? how fast my PC 'could' talk through the network?
Bryant SchaperCommented:
To expand on Dave's comments as well, it will not improve your internet more than likely as 1gig connection is probably faster than your internet speed.  It more the maximum the nic will support, but that depends on the network switch, router and end device you are talking to, for example you could communicate at 1gig to your switch, but to your router, you may only have 100meg connection, and the internet at say 50mbps, so you are bottled at 50, lowest speed.  Same for a workstation, if you are talking to a workstation that is on the 100mbps switch, you will be limited to 100,
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Bryant SchaperCommented:
yes, speed is bandwidth, more a measure of how much data over time, 100 megabits over 1 second or 1000 megabits (gig) over 1 second.
peggiegregAuthor Commented:
I understand, I think I might replace it to a 1GB switch. we have as wall switch/hub splitting 1 into 4 ports and that is only running at a 100mbps. so I am guessing if the connection going to it is a Gig then as Bryant said it would have the capability of running more data over time across the LAN. correct?
Bryant SchaperCommented:
yes, especially in that situation. you have 4 x 100mbps (400mbps) that you are trying to cram into the 100mbps uplink, it would create a bottle neck in the lan.

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Dave BaldwinFixer of ProblemsCommented:
The 'speed' is what the network device hardware is 'capable' of.  But that requires that it be connected to another device that is just as fast.  The 'transfer rate' includes the hardware limits And the limits of the software.  File transfers for example do not proceed in one continuous stream.  They involve numerous requests over the network that require responses from the other end.  In between, nothing is being transferred.  To write a file to a remote computer, the first request is used to create the file entry on the remote computer (after checking permissions and disk space).  The actual data transfer then proceeds in blocks with requests and responses for each block.  While each block will transfer at the network speed, the times in between where the software has to do something will make it appear to be slower.  Sometimes much slower.
peggiegregAuthor Commented:
thanks for this guys, really clarified what was going on.
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