Microsoft

Where's the NIC? Find it using a Windows 2000 wizard

New operating systems present new challenges for network administrators, and Windows 2000 recently threw a plug-and-play curve at Trent Cook when he performed a NIC upgrade. Learn about a Win2K quirk and find out how he found the missing NIC.


For the past few months, I’ve been working with Windows 2000. My initial impression has been good except for a few bugs I found when installing a new network card in my company’s server. I feel that when the new service pack comes out, Microsoft will have taken a big step in the right direction. Among Win2K’s noteworthy improvements are its ability to dynamically change IP addresses and network card drivers in real time, along with advancements in the plug-and-play architecture. Personally, I am not a huge fan of plug-and-play. There’s just something about trusting an operating system to make certain decisions for me, such as setting IRQs and specifying driver files.

My missing card
Which brings me to the issue regarding my network card change. With the server down, I swapped video and network cards. It powered up, and then, without prompting me for so much as a driver location, the new hardware came online. I thought this was just too good to be true; however, all that changed when my manager gave me the task of upgrading a live server network card, with an allowable down time of only five minutes.

On the surface, the upgrade seemed elementary, especially with an up-to-date version of Windows 2000 Advanced Server. Due to the pressure of getting the server back online, I downed the box, swapped the network cards, and booted back up immediately. Before long, I had logged on, and things were looking great.

In the properties of My Network Places, I noticed that Windows installed my new NIC successfully, so the only thing left to do was assign the TCP/IP settings. Windows gave an error message stating that the IP address I was trying to assign to the new card was still bound to the previous network adapter. The actual card was out of the server, meaning the new card should theoretically take priority. On a production server, however, the possibility of creating an error is simply out of the question. On top of that, using a different address was ruled out, as all DNS entries were mapped to that particular IP address.

Show me the NIC!
Since this was a live production server, I immediately began the troubleshooting process. I started by going to the Control Panel and clicking on System | Hardware Tab | Device Manager. Unfortunately, there was no sign of my phantom NIC. On the same screen, under View, I selected Show Hidden Devices, but only the two installed adapters were present.

Even though I have the Show Hidden Devices checked, only two Realtek adapters appear in Device Manager.


Heading back to the System | Hardware Tab, I used the Windows 2000 Add/Remove Hardware wizard to search for the missing NIC. Although I am not particularly fond of wizards, this one did prove to be the best course of action; however, my missing network card did not initially show up in the wizard, either.

According to the wizard, I have only two network devices installed.


To start fresh, I tried uninstalling the network cards currently recognized by the system. I became concerned after I clicked on Uninstall/Unplug Devices | Uninstall Device, refreshed the screen, and nothing new appeared. However, when I selected the Show Hidden Devices check box on the wizard’s front panel, my missing friend decided to show up in the list. This allowed me to remove it and bind the IP to the new card.

With the Show Hidden Devices box checked, the Realtek 8139 Adapter #2 became visible.


For the most part, this situation was simply a repercussion of my own haste. I was in a hurry and failed to realize the check box to show hidden devices was not selected. However, in a true plug-and-play world, this step would not have been necessary. Microsoft’s Windows 2000, with the addition of IRQ handling and dynamic online driver updates, is bringing plug-and-play to a higher level. But until the process is 100 percent accurate, we’ll just have to learn the various tricks out there to keep things running.

Trent Cook is a system administrator and TechRepublic contributing writer. He’s earned MCSE, MCP+I, CNA, and A+ accreditations. When not in the office (and depending on the season), he is either riding his Virago 1100 or hitting the slopes.

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