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Can anyone shed some light on the default items in the Network Adapters branch of the Windows Device Manager? In addition to the network card, there are always a bunch of other things that I cannot find any useful information on such as RAS Asynch Adapter and all the WAN Miniports (IKEv2, IP(v6), L2TP, Network Monitor, PPPOE, PPTP, SSTP).

I would like to trim it down and uninstall whatever possible but cannot find out exactly what these items are responsible for (and therefore whether or not they are needed on my system). Most of the pages found with Google are either people trying to fix an error with such an item or someone asking what it is and being given an unhelpful, pat response like “just leave them alone” or “they’re necessary”. I highly doubt that is the case and I’m certain that at least some items can be removed because even if they become necessary in the future they can be added again (for example installing Network Monitor or Protowall reinstalls the miniport drivers anyway).

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@Dennis, cute. :-D –  Synetech Feb 21 '11 at 15:18
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They're not extraneous. Those are essentially drivers for various types of network connections. For example, the WAN Miniport (PPTP) adapter (driver) is used when making a VPN connection to a PPTP VPN server. The WAN Miniport (PPOE) adapter (driver) would be used when your computer is connected directly to a PPOE broadband modem. Removing these adapters (drivers) would break the functionallity that these adapters (drivers) provide.

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Yes, but like I said, they are not necessarily necessary for every system. I am trying to determine exactly what each one does so tha I can determine which ones are required for my system. I don’t use VPN, so then I suppose I can uninstall the PPTP right? I don’t use IPv6, so then I can uninstall the IPv6 Miniport driver right? Isn’t the RAS Async Adapter related to dial-up? I don’t use dial-up. etc. I’m not looking for pat answers, I’m looking for information. –  Synetech Feb 21 '11 at 15:24
    
Remove the ones you don't think you need and see what happens. In addition, I didn't give you a pat answer. –  joeqwerty Feb 21 '11 at 15:30
    
How do you remove ones that aren't in the Control Panel / Network Connections, but appear in the list when you do ipconfig ? –  SteveC Jan 12 '12 at 13:07
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