I have a 300+ user network, and 95% of the workstations are Win95 (950a) Zenith P133's on a 10BaseT Ethernet LAN using SMC 8416 EtherEZ PNP NIC's. We are running a Netware 3.12 network. The servers are working fine. No one had any problems (almost) when we used Win3.1. However, now that everyone is Win95, I have a *lot* of users complaining of lockups. For months I've tried everything. Updated Netware clients, forced frame type settings (802.2) for the ipx protocols, complete removal and addition of the network clients, format C: and FDisk (which works better than most, but the pc eventually goes to hell again). I've been combing Microsofts' and Novell's forums/KB's for answers, and finally found a post by someone complaining of the same problem on their network using, SMC EtherEZ cards.
So, on a hunch, I substituted the EtherEZ (which is ISA, BTW) with an SMC EtherPower PCI NIC on a user who was having a large amount of lockups daily, particularily during peak times (about 5-10 per day). I followed SMC's instructions for proper installation of the card to the T, installing it without a hitch. This user now has 0 lockups.
My question is this: is it the new NIC with brand new drivers that solved the problem? Or does it sound like a driver issue? I have never updated the EtherEZ drivers, assuming that the new Novell clients did this for me. However, just playing around, I downloaded SMC's ETHER.EXE driver update specifically for this card, and ran the update procedure. I noticed that only two files appeared to update driver wise: SMC8000.dos and SMC8000n.sys ....are these the only drivers for the EtherEZ card?? I have yet to test and see if updating these 8416 drivers will do the trick but I thought a post here might give me some clues.
My typical workstation network config is:
Novell Client32 (2.12 & 2.2 mixed)
SMC EtherEZ (8416)
IPX 32 Bit protocol for Netware --> SMC etherEZ
IPX/SPX compatible protocol --> SMC etherEZ
TCP/IP --> SMC etherEZ
I have tried forcing both IPX protocol settings to use our server frame type (802.2) and this hasn't made a diff that I can tell. When everything works, it works very well, but the workstations will lock up out of the blue.
I've investigated hardware conflicts (IRQ, etc) and this is not the problem. I've upgraded the RAM in the machines, no dice (all machines are 16Mb minimum RAM). HDD space is also not the issue.
My only other idea was that possibly the installation of different software/shareware/freeware out there eventually screwing the pc network settings, but now I wonder. I've also tried updating the tcp/ip stack to 2.0 and using the OLE update and the kernel32 update from MS. Didn't hurt the pc's but it didn't help either. Any help would be greatly appreciated!