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Network is not reliable

Posted on 2000-04-22
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Last Modified: 2013-12-29
We are having trouble with a computer on our network.

The computer:
Pentium III 866mz
Windows 98 SE
3Com 3C905C-TX NIC

What we do that causes the problem:
- Restart the computer and logon to the network.
- Optionally close all open programs by pressing CTRL-ALT-DELETE and shutting everything down except explorer.  The problem occurs regardless of whether we take this step or not, indicating nothing in memory is the cause.  However, would it be worthwhile to edit the registry and delete all the programs that start when the computer does and do the same with the "Startup" group?  Perhaps a program alters the state of the network before I have a chance to close it?
- Map a single drive letter to a network drive on another computer on the network.
- Check to make sure the drive is accessible by clicking on it within Windows Explorer and browsing through a few folders.
- Leave the computer sit over night or for a length of time during the day (8 hours or so).
- Open Windows Explorer and click the same drive letter.
- Windows Explorer crashes.  The cursor changes to a pointer with a small hourglass.  If we attempt to restart the computer by going to Start->Shutdown->Restart, all programs will close, the computer won't restart (it just sits there) and "rundll32" will be the only thing listed in the CTRL-ALT-DELETE menu/tasklist.  To restart the computer at this point requires pressing CTRL-ALT-DELETE 2 times (once to bring up the menu and another to restart it).
- Alternately, we can open the "My Computer" screen and it crashes as soon as it displays the network drive (everything past it is not displayed, indicating that when "My Computer" opens, it tries to access each drive before displaying it in the list.  When it reaches the network drive, it has some difficulty accessing it and hangs right there)

Notes/Things we've tried:
- We've reinstalled the drivers for the network card by deleting the NIC from Device Manager and re-starting the computer.  The drivers we re-installed were those found on the 3com web site for this NIC.

- We've tried to access other drives on other computers from this one, but all fail.  This indicates the problem is with this computer in particular.

- Computers besides this one can access other computers without difficulty, indicating the network does function fine otherwise.

- We have not tried to access this computer from another to see if something will crash.  Perhaps this would be worth a try to see what happens?

- We've run the 3com diagnostic software on the NIC to see if any errors were shown, but none were, indicating the NIC is not damaged.  The NIC Test indicates everything is fine.

The configuration of the NIC according to the 3com NIC Diagnostic software is as follows:
Network driver optimization: Normal
Duplex: Autoselect
Boot PROM: Disabled
Media Type: Autoselect

According to the General Tab->NIC Details screen in the software, it has chosen Half Duplex.  It detects the network as being 10mbps.

- The computer can access other network drives for a period of time after restarting, but will crash if the computer is left idle for any length of time and an attempt is made to access a network drive.  We have been unsuccessful in determining exactly what changes take place that cause it to be fine one moment but crash the next.

- The network consists of 3 computers altogether: 2 desktops and a laptop.  They are connected through a 3com Office Connect 10base-t hub with 8 ports.

- No other computers on the network have this same exact NIC.  The other desktop has a 3com NIC and the laptop has a generic PCMCIA network card.

What would be the best course of action in this case?  How can we get the network on this computer to function reliably?  If you need more information, just post below.  Thanks!
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Question by:thresher_shark
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by:hewittg
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Thresher,
Wondering if it is a heat issue.  Is the fan running?
Have you tried taking it off the network for the period and see if it crashes?
Try removing the card deleting the driver and run the puter?

Doing these will help narrow the problem.

Hope it helps.

Glenn
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by:Puffin
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Thresher,

It sounds as if you have a corrupted Win98 Networking file.  What I would do is remove networking completely.   Go to the Network Neighborhood and right mouse click,  Properties (Left Mouse click) and delete everthing.  

Once you have done this the go to My Computer and right mouse click, choose properties and then choose Device Manager.  Make sure your Nic is not listed in Network adapters.  

Having done this, reboot the computer and get ready to enter "Safe Mode"  either hold the CTRL key or press F8 to get there.  Once in Safe mode go back to the Device Manager and look for phantom devices.  These are devices that are (kind of sort of) not removed.  Check each entery from CD ROM to Sound Card and if you have more than one of them remove them all to force your computer to "Re Detect" them.  Make sure that they are duplicates because some will Look Simular.  When you complete this reboot again and allow windows to redetect your devices.  

Once the redetect is complete, it might take serveral reboots, set up you networking again.  This will reinstall all the files and should correct your problem.

Email me if you need more help  doug@pufcomp.com
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by:dew_associates
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Thresher, unfortunately that particular NIC has developed problems on other machines, and normally it comes down to that of the card being in a slot with shared resources (motherboard shared, not windows shared). Give the following a try, and it would be an advantage to have some info on the motherboard that is in that PC!

1. Disconnect the PC from the network by removing the cable from the NIC, not the hub.

2. Now boot the PC into safemode and go into device manager and look through each device area, not just the network components, and look for duplicate and/or multiple entries for the same or similar devices. eg; If there are two video cards listed, remove both. If there are 2 NICs listed, remove both. This may take a reboot or two to straighten out if there are multiples, but make sure you sort this out in safemode.

3. On the presumption that there may have been some device duplicates and that you have cured them, then move on as follows.

4. While in safemode: (Don't miss a step)

A. Remove the NIC in device manager.

B. Uninstall the 3COM diagnostics, they are incompatible with Win98SE.

C. Via My Computer, remove any DUN connections you have.

D. Via Control Panel, Networking, remove all of the Networking entries, protocols etc. Clean it all out.

E. In Control Panel, Add/Remove Programs, unistall Dialup Networking as well as all other Networking components.

F. Shut the PC down and physically remove the NIC, but note which slot you took it from.

G. Reboot the system to an MS-DOS prompt using the Windows 98 boot menu.

H. Change directories to \Windows\Command

I. At the prompt, type SCANREG/FIX and touch enter. After scanreg has run, move to the next step.

J. Now check the manual for the motherboard and determine which slots are shared on the motherboard. There should be at least one or two that do not share. In any case, if this PC has an AGP card, do not use the slot closest to the AGO slot. Once found, install the NIC and connect the network cable.

K. Boot the system and load only the verified drivers for the NIC. The drivers on the Win98SE disk are the correct default drivers for the card you describe. Do not load the 3COM diagnostics.

L. Now reinstall Dialup Networking and then your networking components in this order only!

M. Now share the resources on this PC and then reboot.

How's it look now?

Dennis
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by:cmalone
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I had the same problem with my 3Com Office Connect LAN Modem for my ISDN line.  I also had 3Com network cards (10baseT)in all 9 PCs.  

The above step that Dennis displayed did the trick for 3 of my machines, but I needed all of them to work.

I ended up with this combination and setup.

- ISDN Line to 3COM Office Connect LAN Modem.
- 1 PC connected to the LAN Modem port one.
- 2 LinkSys 100/10 auto switching hubs runing from the UPLink port on LAN Modem.
- 3 Took out 3Com network cards.  Replaced all of them with D-Link 100 cards.
- 4 Connected the remaining machines to the two LinkSys hubs.

   Both hubs read each PC as running at a speed of 100 through the network.  No clashes, and no more "fatal blue screens."   D-Link cards are cheaper than 3Com cards.  Sometimes you "get what you pay for," but the chance I took in price paid off.

   Extra note:  The 10baseT cabling all match as far as order of coloring from left to right per connection.  You might check to see if you have cables that are not in sync as far as the color coding goes.  If you crimped your own cables, perhaps an oversight was made when lining up the colors.

For what's it worth,

Christopher.
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by:thresher_shark
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Okay cool, I'm glad you guys responded.  I've written Dell tech support (it's a Dell computer).  If they just beat around the bush or are incapable of solving it, I'll try out Dennis' solution.

Puffin - I saw your response yesterday and tried it, but it doesn't work :(  It's the same problem.
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by:amanela
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Hey Thresher, are you able to swap nics from a computer that for sure works? Try that. Also the company that I worked for always preferred using intel server adapters. those are very expensive but they always work! I've seen many times that a 3com card won't work in a certain machine and replacing it with an intel card solved the problem right away! buy an intel card and try it--you could return it if it doesn't work, i think.
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by:nick<!-2C52FE3248B22183ED73F17C91FAE514-->
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I have had found that when rebooting (as opposed to turning power off, then back on), some computers running w98, do not allocated the NIC an IRQ.

This condition is generally linked to whether IRQ sharing has been successfully implemented by the system and w98.

You can check this in:-
Control Panel/System/Device Manager/System Devices/PCI Bus/IRQ Steering

If you find the message that it was not possible to enable IRQ steering, then enabling it could possibly sort out your problem.

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by:thresher_shark
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I think the Dell guy may have found the solution.  We tried changing the protocol the network uses for file/print sharing from IPX to NetBEUI.  I have not forgotten about this question.

The computer hasn't crashed in two full days, longer than ever before.  I have been checking the network drive continually, but it hasn't yet crashed.
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by:dew_associates
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Why not TCP/IP?
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by:thresher_shark
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We don't have any passwords on these computers, so someone on the internet could hack into our network if we used TCP/IP for file and printer sharing.

I had set it to IPX because it's not bound to the dialup adapter (which I presume means they couldn't get in).

(Of course someone could probably hack into anybody's network if they tried hard enough, but I just want to reduce our risk :))

Maybe this isn't true?  I'm not that familiar with networking.

If it's relatively safe to use TCP/IP for file and printer sharing without a windows login password, I'll change it and delete NetBEUI.
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by:dew_associates
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That depends on how you are accessing the Internet, eg; server, or through Win98SE etc.
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by:thresher_shark
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It has become apparent that the problem with the network was the protocol it was using for file/print sharing.  We have had no problems since we've switched to NetBEUI.

If anybody knows why this causes a problem, I'll post a separate question for 50 points and let you answer it (post here saying you have the solution, and then I'll post a separate question).  Either way, I'm going to delete this question since nothing has been posted suggesting this as the solution.  Thanks for all the help anyway!
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dew_associates earned 100 total points
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Thresher, without insulting you, the network is not setup correctly, which is part of the problem. You need to make a choice between that of a LAN or peer-to_peer. If you want it to operate as a true lan network, then you need to deploy TCP/IP and then incorporate the necessary safeguards to prevent hacking. There is no instant 50 point answer, just a truthful one. Neither NetBeui or IPX were disgned for what you intend, there use is just a bandaid to get around the real problem.
Dennis
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by:thresher_shark
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What I am trying to run here is just a peer-to-peer network.  We don't need anything fancy :)

>> Neither NetBeui or IPX were designed for what you intend ...

File and print sharing?

All we need is a way to play IPX and TCP/IP based games and share files and printers.
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by:dew_associates
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TS, what you just posted is contrary to what you posted immediately before. Either you are developing a secure network to avert hacking or your going to open the network for game play and use NetBEUI.

NetBEUI was developed to provide compatibility with earlier LANs, such as LAN Manager and LAN Server, using the NetBIOS protocol. It was designed to be a local area network transport that does not need to interoperate with a variety of other protocols such as TCP/IP. NetBEUI uses Token Ring source routing as its only method of routing. It is the Microsoft implementation of the NetBIOS standard.

Regardless of the type of peer-to-peer you are running, when you use NetBeui let's say with 3 or 4 PC's, it's like  having the PC's jump up and down and wave their keyboards to announce the world, here I am, wide open and ready...give it to me!

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by:thresher_shark
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Hehe, I think I am starting to see now.  So, in order to play games across our network, we probably should get some kind of firewall software to prevent people from across the internet access to everything?
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by:dew_associates
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Ahhh yes, grasshopper....you have found the cricket at your feet!
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by:thresher_shark
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Comment accepted as answer
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by:thresher_shark
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Thanks! :)
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by:dew_associates
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Anytime! and thank you! BTW, Black Ice makes a great product and inexpensive too!
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by:hewittg
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Dennis,
Good call, are you back?

Glenn
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by:dew_associates
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I haven't left Glenn. I've just been working with our crew moving part of our site from wholesale to retail and then building the shopping cart.
Den
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by:hewittg
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Dennis,
Please e-mail me at ghewitt@kc.rr.com.  I have a serious question for you.

Glenn

 
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