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Can't find network - oh, THERE it is!

By pbtoms ·
I'm stumped on this one. I have a user in a branch office who has sporadic problems connecting to the network. It's a small office, with a single NT4 server. His computer is XP Pro. Worked fine for quite a while, but in the last couple of weeks, this has happened a few times, 2-3 times this week alone. He starts up his computer in the morning (7 - 7:30), and can't see the network. No internet, no email, no mapped drives. Event viewer errors say no domain controller or DHCP can be found. Assigns a 169... IP address. Checked the cable, checked the NIC, everything seems ok. Rebooted and shut down/restarted several times.
Then, around 8:30, he suddenly appears on the network. Event log has a tcpip event that says the system found the network adapter, and initiated normal operation. This happened before, but I didn't have access to the logs. He called to say he couldn't connect, and when I called him back, it had magically started to work.
I don't even know where to START trying to troubleshoot this. Any ideas? It's a Dell Dimension 4500, with whatever NIC they include. Nobody else is having this problem in that office, including the other XP machine (they're still mostly 9x, with two new XP's).

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by mikex In reply to Can't find network - oh, ...

Check first in your server if you have any time restrictions for this user account.

One easy solution, the troubles that you have can be caused by the network adaptor in the laptop => Buy one additional PCMCIA 10/100 network
card - wired(~10-25$ Pcs)install it and use it instead of the built in (if the laptop is hardly used - the built in network socket can cause troubles).

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by pbtoms In reply to Can't find network - oh, ...

It's not a laptop, it's a desktop machine, used every day. I will probably try throwing another NIC in it, just in case, but that fact that it "fixes" itself after a period of time with no changes or adjustments makes me skeptical that the NIC is bad. 'Course, I've thought that before, and been wrong!
No time restrictions on the server. That's not the issue, anyway, since he isn't even seeing the network, he's not getting to the server to be told there is a time restriction.

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by willcomp In reply to Can't find network - oh, ...

Sounds like you are using DHCP and that machine is not leasing an IP address. Try configuring with a static address and see what happens.

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by sgt_shultz In reply to Can't find network - oh, ...

yes, definitely try another nic
and then or first i would rule out bad wiring in wall jacks both ends and rule out switch or switch port problems. i have never seen switch port problem in my little career (that is, if it was working fine before) but have seen few crappy wired networks (understatement).
i have 100 foot known good ethernet patch cable i use for this stuff. if you can go from bad computer direct to switch with long patch cable and maybe swap to known good port on switch also. you can ask user to go that way for few days? or one thing at a time. cable then change port at switch but if only if no joy otherwise because easy to try but so unlikely imho. highest probability intermttant patch cable you sure you ruled that out? next imho high probabllity after other stuff you already ruled out is you have bad wall jack. try shotgun reterminating wall jacks if you have tool and is easier for you than my cable idea...
when it is weird like that and flakey and intermittant i always think hardware. hardware going south...

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by LMon In reply to Can't find network - oh, ...

I would first try to reinstall the tcp/ip stack if that does not work then try another adapter

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by HereInOz In reply to Can't find network - oh, ...

I would agree with the sarge. Replace the NIC, and then run the cable and wiring troubleshooting process he outlined. Had a similar problem and replaced the patch cable, which "fixed" it for half a day, then gone again. It was the wall jack.

My bet for you would be the NIC and for the cost, just put another one in there.


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by Hazzard_005 In reply to Can't find network - oh, ...

Could be an issue with the auto detect setting on the NIC card for network speed. I've seen similar problems which this was a problem.

Try changing the configuration for your NIC card to a static line speed and duplex mode. Go to the properties of your NIC card. Select configure button and go to the advanced tab. Find the entry(s) for line speed and duplex. Try changing them to 10mbps/half duplex. You may have to try a few different settings. This will work better if you know what your network runs at and just match it up to statically connect at that speed.

Another option would be to see if you can plug the user's connection into another port on the Hub or switch. It may be that the auto detect is not working there and that may rectify the problem without having to change any settings on the computer.

Hope this helps. If nothing else it is something you can try Before you get a new NIC card.

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