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Broadcast Storm Caused By Intel NIC Drivers While PC Was In Sleep Mode

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William Fulks
...all I can say is that my life is pretty plain. I like watchin' the puddles gather rain...
We recently endured a series of broadcast storms that caused our ISP to shut us down for brief periods of time. After going through a multitude of tests, we determined that the issue was related to Intel NIC drivers on some new HP desktop computers we'd recently purchased.

The Problem

The broadcast storm would occur if the desktop PC went into sleep mode for an extended period of time. We had one PC push out several gigs of network traffic in a matter of seconds. Strangely, we had eight new PC's all on a configuration bench and all were in sleep mode but only three of them were causing the storm. The randomness of the problem made it that much more difficult to diagnose.

This problem first popped up around a year ago with the Intel i217-LM NIC drivers. Some users on a Cisco message board were suggesting that the solution was to disable IPv6, but this did not work. In fact, we disabled IPv6 across our whole network thinking this would stop the broadcast storms but we got another one the very next day. What's so odd about all this is that you have the leading manufacturer of PC's (HP) using a motherboard with one of the leading manufacturers of NIC drivers (Intel) and all running the world's most popular desktop PC OS (Windows) and the problem stil persists.

The Solution

Upgrading the NIC drivers is the only solution here. However, you can't count on Windows Update to give it to you. This means you nead to visit Intel's site and manually download the drivers, then uninstall your current ones and reinstall the newly downloaded drivers. PC manufacturers like HP need to be more proactive in loading the most current NIC drivers before they ship in order to save their customers from this kind of headache.
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Author Comment

by:William Fulks
Thanks for the feedback. I will add those headers and see if I can find a screenshot that works. I may have some graphs showing network traffic during the broadcast storm.
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Expert Comment

by:dlstoehner
We had similar issues on our network. Our eventual fix was to disable Wake-On-LAN. Our domain is being upgraded to Windows 8 with a new domain roll out. We had so much traffic that our CISCO switches were shutting themselves off due to "excessive suspicious activity." it took us about 5 weeks to figure it out. But now we need to figure out how to tame the WOL thing.
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Expert Comment

by:TheTrumpist
Dealt with this same issue around six months ago, in the end updating the NIC drivers on the affected PCs fixed the issue.
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Expert Comment

by:Senior IT System Engineer
ok, so what WIndows OS that is impacted with this issue ?
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Author Comment

by:William Fulks
These were all Windows 7 Professional 64-bit PC's.
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LVL 9

Expert Comment

by:Senior IT System Engineer
Cool, thanks for sharing.
glad that you're resolved / share the issue here as well.
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