Network administrators are constantly faced with challenges when implementing new technology. It’s a ceaseless battle, as new operating systems are released, hardware is updated, and applications require new drivers. Fortunately, when it comes to drivers at least, the Internet delivers. Regardless of device or manufacturer, with an Internet connection, the files needed to make your hardware functional are simply a download away. Traditionally, hardware manufacturers’ Web sites or PC Drivers HeadQuarters keep us up to date on the latest drivers.

But troubles tend to arise when a new operating system such as Windows 2000 hits the market. Developers often take their time upgrading their current drivers because of the long testing period needed after the code is complete. Should you sit back and wait for your manufacturer to post an update? Keep reading, and I’ll share a little trick I’ve found to speed up the process of finding the latest prerelease drivers.

The problem
This example involves Windows 2000 and the D-Link DFE-538TX network card. Windows 2000 Advanced Server installs this card as a Realtek 8139. Although the network interface card (NIC) will work, I found that while online, the server would drop its connection. So I went to the D-Link Web site to look for updated Windows 2000 drivers specifically designed for the card.

Windows 2000 installs this driver file for a D-Link DFE-538TX network card.

After locating the network card’s model on their site, I noticed they had not posted a beta 2000 driver for the card. The only alternative was to download the latest Windows NT 4.0 drivers and install them. The odd thing was that although the correct drivers were installed, the model that Windows 2000 listed was a different D-Link card altogether. This sent me searching a bit deeper to try to locate 2000-compliant software.

This is the prerelease Windows 2000 driver file written for my D-Link card.

Ace up my sleeve
A quick trip to D-Link’s Taiwan Web site (it has a .tw extension after the .com in the URL), and I found a downloadable prereleased Windows 2000 driver for the specific NIC model. Often, software updates are developed and posted on a company’s .tw domain before .com because they are still in a testing or beta stage. After software passes all of these tests, it gets posted directly onto their .com site.

This warning box reminds you that the driver files have not yet gone through all the tests to obtain a Windows 2000 compatibility signature.

Final results
Heading over to Taiwan won’t work 100 percent of the time, since not every company has a .tw domain. However, the majority of big manufacturers do, and when you’re in a bind, this will give you another possible resource. (Of course, you may run into a language barrier, in some cases.) If you’re interested in trying out a few URLs with the .tw domain, here are some links:

After I downloaded and installed the 2000 drivers, my network card successfully installed and is now working flawlessly. Of course, drivers found in this manner are not often final release candidates and should be used carefully. However, if you are having trouble with your current drivers and can’t find an update, try placing the (.tw) domain at the end of the manufacturer’s address.

Trent Cook has acquired his MCSE, MCP+I, CNA and A+ certifications and is a practicing systems administrator as well as a TechRepublic contributing writer. He would like to pass along one short tip, based on his own employment experiences, for any job-hunting techies out there: If ever provided with the choice, DO NOT OPT FOR SALARY!

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