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Should my server have one or two NICs?

My coworkers and I have had the debate on one of the most common topics about network/server security: "Should a server have one or two NICs? And, what are the pros and cons of having one or two (OS independent, Windows, Unix, Linux)?

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Well, that depends upon what you are trying to do with that server. If it's simply a stand-alone application server that's part of a LAN, then there is no reason for a second NIC. If you're trying to make a server part of two different LANs, I prefer dual-homing using two separate NICs (with two separate sets of address space for each LAN, and no routing within the server) rather than trying to separate them only by using VLANs. However, the sensitivity of the data being processed by the system should be used to guide your decision.

This was first published in September 2004

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