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selective website access problem (sorry all out of points!)

Posted on 2002-04-05
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Last Modified: 2013-12-28
Hello there,

I am experiencing problems with a packard bell P3-500 machine with 128 meg ram and a standard dial up modem/connection. It is connecting to the internet perfectly and connection speed is fine. Finds home page without any problems but then when attempt to access Hotmail (and certain other) sites - web site is found but progress bar gradually edges along but site never appears. Pinged site (through dos prompt) and request timed out. However tried a number of other (.net, .com, and .co.uk) sites and and they worked fine. Tried same computer with a different dial up connection (UK2 ISP) but still would not access hotmail. Tried to access hotmail from my laptop (UK2 ISP - IR modem) - and it got through fine. Also all other computers on the site which use the same dial up connection and modem as the problematic computer were able to access all sites without any difficulty.

As it is independent of both the dial up connection and the web-sites themselves it would appear to be a local problem with the computer, but I know of nothing that can manifest itself as a selective inability to access certain websites. The computer has recently had zone alarm and norton installed, but i disabled these and the problem sites were still inaccessible - also all working computer have the two packages installed without any trouble. Also I checked the internet security settings - and there was nothing abnormal here.

I would be grateful for some feedback.



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Question by:elliot2002
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LVL 28

Expert Comment

by:vinnyd79
ID: 6921729
how far do you get if you do a tracert?
tracert www.hotmail.com

Request timed out while pinging hotmail should be normal,I think they are blocking icmp packets.
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LVL 27

Expert Comment

by:Asta Cu
ID: 6921828
What browser are you using?  It should be one that supports frames, which may be a part of your problem.
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LVL 27

Expert Comment

by:Asta Cu
ID: 6921840
http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;Q185416

If problems persist that are Hotmail-specific, try Emailing them here: support@hotmail.com

Recommend you check WindowsUpdate, Product Catalog to see what patches/fixes are needed on your setup.

Many other possibilities come to mind, but more specifics from you are needed to spare us all unnecessary "possibilities".  Browser and version, error messages, settings within Browser, sample links with problems, etc.

May also benefit by clearing browser's cache, temp int files/history files and autocomplete items for the problems links, as well as related cookies.  Corruptions can be a cause, as well as settings, ActiveX, securiy and so on.

Good luck
":0)
Asta

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Author Comment

by:elliot2002
ID: 6921841
I haven't tried tracert actually. It's on IE5 and I am sure it supports frames - thing is it worked perfectly until a few days ago and noone I've asked knows what's changed.
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Author Comment

by:elliot2002
ID: 6921851
I will try and gather some specifics - thing is I am trying to research the problem over the weekend so I can sort it on Monday - so any theories would be welcome.

Incidentally, I'm sure its not hotmail specific, because it would not access some other sites and also all other computer accessed hotmail fine.

Thanks in advance
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by:vinnyd79
ID: 6921867
Are you using a router?
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by:joe_massimino
ID: 6921898
Delete your cookie for hotmail. Also, the suggestion to delete all temp internet files is a good one.

Also, Zone Alarm is not really needed for a dialup connection where your IP is changed everytime you make a new connection. Norton Antivirus will detect all kinds of nasty things that can get into your PC, most of which will come in through email. Hackers don't try to hack many modem users. Cable modem users, and DSL users can use it, but for them I suggest a hardware appraoch.  You can use the #com 3C510 which has a dialup modem port on it as well as an ethernet conection for cable modems and DSL broadband accounts. Try ebay for the 3Com device, under $40 and has a printserver and four 10/100 switch ports on top of the firwall features, DHCP server, and a load of other stuff. There is a lot to said about being secure, and even more to be said about be overly secure to the pint of causing problems for yourself.  Good luck.
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Author Comment

by:elliot2002
ID: 6922168
It's just a regular dial up modem. Also I do agree about the excessive paranoia surrounding the possibility of computer hacking, however they do have a flat-rate connection and even though the IP address is randomly allocated the connection can be active for prolonged periods. As I understand it - please correct me if I'm wrong - this increases the risk of intrusion. To be honest with you it's often more of a psychological thing, if they can see an icon buzzing away in their systray protecting their data they can rest easy. As long as no-one is being misinformed or exploited then I'm happy to go along with it.

The thing is, on this occasion I don't think the problem is down to zone alarm because it is still there when I disable it and also all other computers work fine with everything enabled. Just to reiterate, the problem isn't restricted to hotmail, it wouldn't access a couple of other sites either - but intriguingly it would access others that I tried.

Any further suggestions would be greatly appreciated, because I want to arm myself with as much information as possible when I try to sort it on Monday.

Thanks again,

Elliot.
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LVL 41

Accepted Solution

by:
stevenlewis earned 28 total points
ID: 6922208
search your hard drive for a file called "hosts" no extension, not hosts.sam, just "hosts"
open it in notepad and delete all the entries in there
reboot and try again
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Author Comment

by:elliot2002
ID: 6922213
Will do mate - just for my information what does that do.

I'll check back tomorrow (it's bedtime in the UK)
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by:stevenlewis
ID: 6922273
OK, quick explaination, when windows needs to resolve a name to ip addresses, it checks the hosts file for an entry, and if it finds one, it looks no further, if it doesn't it then queries a dns server for the info. Web accelerators use the hosts file to "speed" things up (saves a few seconds), but if a web address changes, then the wrong info will be in there

for more info see here
NT
location
C:\WINNT\SYSTEM32\DRIVERS\ETC\hosts
also see here
http://www.smartin-designs.com/
here
http://www.smartin-designs.com/hosts_info_left.htm
and here
http://www.octopus.iastate.edu/files/11edit_hostfile.html
9x http://www.brother.com/european/networking/chapter18/chapter18_tcpip-hosts-file.html
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Author Comment

by:elliot2002
ID: 6923166
Right then, to reprise

* I will delete all temp internet files, autocomplete entries and browser cache (where is this stored?)
* I will delete all cookies to be on the safe side
* I will search for and empty out a file called "hosts"

Does anyone have any other possible solutions also has anyone experienced the same problem - if so what was the cause and solution there?

I read another account of a similar problem (with google, certain other sites and banner ads) - in this case the ISP technical support blamed zone alarm or some similar security program - except the problem remained even after uninstallation. Is it possible that some residual trace from zone alarm could be causing a problem even when the agent is diabled or uninstalled. I did take a full system snapshot before I took a complete system snapshot before installing all the security software on the computer I am dealing with - if I am unable to find a less extreme alternative I will do a full restore. If the problem is still there after this I will know it is nothing to do with the recently installed software.

Any more feedback would be greatly appreciated.

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LVL 41

Expert Comment

by:stevenlewis
ID: 6926670
How are we doing here Elliot?
0
Don't lose your head updating email signatures!

Do your end users still have the wrong email signature? Do email signature updates bore you or fill you with a sense of dread? You can make this a whole lot easier on yourself by trusting an Exclaimer email signature management solution. Over 50 million users do...so should you!

 
LVL 6

Expert Comment

by:st_steve
ID: 6930296
listening and learning...

I'm sorry I had to tag along on your question elliot2002, but I'm facing the same problem with one of my clients' sites. The computer would find the hotmail login page ok, but report DNS error after clicking Login.

I've "repaired" IE6 and also uninstalled and reinstalled IE6, but no go. If I find the solution, I promise I'll post it here.
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LVL 41

Expert Comment

by:stevenlewis
ID: 6930863
st_steve If this machne is a client of ICS, and using PPPoE, then change the MTU size, this is a known bug
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Expert Comment

by:stevenlewis
ID: 6932698
st_steve see here for more info on this
http://www.annoyances.org/exec/show/article04-107
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Author Comment

by:elliot2002
ID: 6932720
Hi steve,

Feel free to tag along, I am grateful for any feedback I can get here - I've found other people with the same problem but noone seems able to offer anything approaching a definitive solution.

As a last resort I did a full system restore (using snapnshot - a handy system restore utility I got bundled with a Gateway computer a couple of years ago), yet inexplicably the problem is still there - certain sites will access fine, whilst others (such as google and hotmail will not).

This is one of the most baffling computer problems I have ever encountered, how anything could survive a procedure which effectively rewrites the system and registry to a point before the problem arose is a mystery to me.

I have even physically moved the PC (back to my office) and tested it on other ISP's and on an entirely different phone system - just in case it was somehow due to a coincidental line fault - but it's exactly the same.

I fear that - due to time constraints - I may be forced to reformat and reinstall, but this is a very unsatisfactory way of solving a problem. Also, I have a nasty feeling that somehow the problem would still be there!

I'll check out that site, do some more research and post back - any more ideas would be very welcome.

atb,

Bowen.
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LVL 41

Expert Comment

by:stevenlewis
ID: 6932823
Did you check the hosts file? that is the culprit in 90% of these cases
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Author Comment

by:elliot2002
ID: 6933337
ah haaa


I'm heading into the office now so I will check that and report back later.

Thanks mate.

P.S. I'm an idiot
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Author Comment

by:elliot2002
ID: 6935498
Hi there,

Emptied out the hosts file but still problem remains. I even went on to clear out a couple of other files with "hosts" in the name for good measure - still no good.

What could possibly be causing this selective access problem? I really don't want to have to zap and reinstall, because I hate leaving a problem unresolved like this.

atb,


Bowen.
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Expert Comment

by:stevenlewis
ID: 6935510
from a prompt type
tracert <website>
where <website> is the name fo the site that won't load, like www.experts-exchange.com
post the results
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Expert Comment

by:stevenlewis
ID: 6935516
Oh yeah, did you reboot after cleaning the hosts file?

more info for you to check out
http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;Q241344
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LVL 41

Expert Comment

by:stevenlewis
ID: 6935520
one other thing, recheck the hosts file to see if the entries have been added back
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Expert Comment

by:bowen2002
ID: 6935536
I did indeed reboot (several times). I will post back the tracert results in the morning (it's pretty late over in England).

Again, thanks for your continued input.
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Expert Comment

by:Moondancer
ID: 6936906
Hi, bowen2002 and elliot2002.  You may only have one account here, please let us know which one you'd like to keep.  Administration will be sending you an Email in this regard.
Thank you,
Moondancer - EE Moderator
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Author Comment

by:elliot2002
ID: 6938874
Busted!
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Author Comment

by:elliot2002
ID: 6951429
In the end, the only way I could get it working was by reformatting and reinstalling (win98 2nd edition). However - for the purposes of the PAQ's, I will accept the hosts file solution as this seems to work in other cases.

Thankyou all for your input,

Elliot.
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