NIC settings change "on their own".

We have approximately 500 computers on a network.  All are Dells running Windows XP Professional.  The onboard NIC (Intel Pro/1000 MT Network Connection) is configured with a static IP address, and the Link Speed & Duplex setting is set to 100/Mbps/Full Duplex.  On occasion, we discover that some of these computers have somehow changed over to DHCP, and the Link Speed & Duplex setting has changed to Auto Detect (which drastically reduces the performance of the computer).  We have no idea what might be causing this change.  Any ideas?

Thank you in advance!
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reasons for NW reset -
1. if the IP address is already taken, generally a desktop will give error, but Dell could reset the TCP paramters, from software.  Generally a laptop will also reset the PC card to a new driver set, DHCP.
2. If there is a bad boot and the BIOS resets itself, now the NIC is likely to be redetected and a "new connection" setup in windows.  This means it will default to DHCP, as windows likes to do.
3.  Many other reasons, all with same result.  If windows "finds" the network card anew, for whatever reason, it will increment the connection number (i.e. say it was connection1, now it will be connection2, and the windows default values of DHCP will be loaded).
In all cases, you will find that, for whatever reason, windows has gone through a redetect of the network card that the user didn't notice, and it will always adopt the default setting of GET IP address from DHCP.

This could also be a generic defect in the Dell BIOS, Dell is notorious for freaky, poorly debugged BIOSes that do wierd and irritating things.  

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The above sounds pretty plausible.

Still: you have 500 computer clients all using static IP's? Did I read that right? Holy cow, why is that? Some kind of remote management limitation?

I'm thinking that trying to manage 500+ unique IP's is problematic, and DHCP is made for just for you. Other than that, I've found that if there are issues on the network (like duplicate IP's maybe?), sometimes the NIC's are assigned any old random IP or whatever. Though the autodetect issue sounds like scrathcyboy's theory.
ksuchyAuthor Commented:
Thank you scrathcyboy ... while we are unable to confirm your theories at this time, we think you might have provided the right direction for us to look.  We've had other issues with Dell (especially in this particular model), so we're reasonably certain that it might be a BIOS glitch of some sort.  Thanks again!!

Thank you, I hope you sort it out, I will stay attached to this question in case something crops up you need help with.
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