What a disaster!

The job today blew up. After 3 hours of troubleshooting to find out that their network is highly unstable. The only solution is to replace their wireless network to a wired one. Kim won't like that and won't understand why. Only other thing is to replace their Netopia with another kind of router. Those are the only options I can think of. Here is a break down of events:

Kims Machine
First their printer: hp laserject 1320 pcl 6 died. Kim went out and purchased a new one and installed the printer like the first one. The second printer is identical to the first. Since she installed that printer everything stopped working. I was ok, I know why. She broke the share. I went in and installed the printer from scratch and established the share. Then I tested the printer by sending it a test page locally.

Secretary Machine
Next I went over and deleted the office image writer. It was assuming it was the default printer. afterward, removed the actual image writer from Office 2003 itself. But, for some reason it kept reappearing. Later, I tried to install the printer share that was on Kim's Machine. The machine told me it was could find it or it was a rights issue. I started to troubleshoot the rights issue. Kim's machine was showing up in on the network. So I didn't think it was a communications problem but a rights issue.

Kims Machine
Opened up gpedit and made sure that the everyone and anonymous groups were enabled for network access. The security tab wasn't present in the folder view so I had to turn off simple sharing. Now, I can use the security tab. I went there and made sure everyone group was in there.

*** No one uses passwords to logon to their machines. So, I made a temp admin acct with a password to test it out. Still could access Kims machine. Once I figured out that didn't work I removed the acct. Didn't want to leave open a security hole. ***

While all of this was going on I made sure to reboot the machines to rule out anything else like memory corruption. During this time I noticed that the Kim machine would appear and disappear on the network. Right there I knew something was up. I started to ping the machines from each other and saw the problem. Kims Machine could ping the Secretary machine. But, Secretary's machine could see Kims. Thats why the printer share couldn't be added and why image writer was taking over the default.

I told Kim I needed another wireless card to check if it was the card. She went home and got hers. It was identical to the one on the machine. I was like YUCK! They were the usb kind. I was thinking something cropped up interfere wise. So when she returned with the other card and I moved it around. It was still behaving in the same way no communications. I started to ping the gateway and a dns server that I know that works. All worked except the printer share.

So inclusion what do you suggest? Get new PCI wireless cards that have external antennas. Or do I just wire them up with wired cards. Or do I just remove the router and install a new one? However, everything worked before the printer died. What has changed since then? Did I cover all of the bases, did I forget to do something. It was frustrated to be in a pickle while the client is over your shoulder breathing down your back. I explained to her that I did all that I could do and that we needed to do some further troubleshooting. I also told her that I won't increase my rate cause of the hours spent. She paid for the problem not the time. She said if it take a lot of work to fix the problem, I'll pay you accordingly. Wanted to pass along that I wasn't there to rip her off but more troubleshooting was needed. I tried to explain that to her in a way she would understand. "Oh should I get best buy or the Geek squad" I told her No, they will charge her way too much money and they will make things worse." She will have to pay them upfront. It wouldn't be so easy for her to just "Oh, I'll take $200 off of your rent!"
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Steve KnightIT ConsultancyCommented:
Ok first off, sound like a bad day but probably all easily explainable.

I imagine the officewriter is part of the install so you probably need to remove that using the remove bit in add/remove programs, or just leave it there ans set the other printer as default...

PING needs two way communication so it is very unlikely a different card etc. will help - especially if you can ping some addresses.  If you can ping from a to b but not b to a then it IS a firewall stopping it.  Are you pinging by name or ip?  It is quite likely you just need to amend the windows firewall' temporarily turn it off and see if that helps then you can add some exceptions.  Same goes for other firewalls - classic one is the one that comes with Norton.  Turn it off and look into adding exceptions again for thing you do need like printing.

As to printing I would normally suggest a separate print server, she could have bought one built into the printer or something like the netgear ps101 are cheap and simple or there are wireless ones of course too.
Fatal_ExceptionSystems EngineerCommented:
I have to agree with a print server..  for all HP products though, I go for the HP Jetdirect print sharing devices... in fact, I manage over 50 of these devices sharing HP3550's throughout our Corp. Lan..  depending on the printers, you can get these pretty cheap on Ebay if you want to save some $...

Also, if you do use these, you might consider using the IPX protocols, as this takes the ARP process out of the print sharing loop, and reduces network traffic (and although it does take a small hit to the machines themselves, it is very minor..)

Fatal_ExceptionSystems EngineerCommented:
Oh.. and you are so right about Geek Squad...  they are highly overrated, and charge WAYYYY to much for their work, which I find many times is a down right rip off of their customers trust, selling services and products that the customer does not need...
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Sounds like a firewall issue on Kim's machine. . . .
Any updates to AV, added firewall, VPN client, anything like that?
rloconeAuthor Commented:
Thanks for all that responded.  Maybe, I didn't mentioned but I did turn off xp's firewall on both machines that day.  There is the Netopia I forgot to mention.

Additional procedures:
1. run NETSH diagnostic mode, I did everything manually.
2. boot clean, run msconfig and remove all items from startup.
3. could reset the TCP/IP stack (Overkill)

Next: Netopia Model 3347NWG-VGx ADSL Gateway, could this beast be the cause?  I'm not familiar with this router.
Fatal_ExceptionSystems EngineerCommented:
I cannot imagine why the Netopia would be causing you issues here...   but, is it providing your WiFi connections?  Regardless, then perhaps you are getting these problems via a routing issue on the Wifi router?
Steve KnightIT ConsultancyCommented:
I suggest trying the two machines with a direct cable connection to the switch / hub - that will show that the machines either can still only communicate one way (which means there IS a firewall on Kim's machine still) or they will work in which case there is a possibility that there is some configuration in the netopia getting in the way - if you connect from machine a to machineb over wireless then it goes to the access point and back to the other client, not direct.

Please double check for things such as Norton or other a/v packages that come bundled with firewalls.

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rloconeAuthor Commented:
Well guys the client decided not to pursue the issue any further.
Steve KnightIT ConsultancyCommented:
Well I think you know how you deal with the question now:


Steve KnightIT ConsultancyCommented:
Thanks for selecting my answer.  A split of points may have been kinder to the other particicpants, if anyone thinks it should be split not an issue with me

Fatal_ExceptionSystems EngineerCommented:
No big deal Dragon..  and a Happy Holiday  Season to all!
rloconeAuthor Commented:
Damn it all.  Sorry about that.  I wanted to split the points 166 between the 3 of you.
Fatal_ExceptionSystems EngineerCommented:
Well, you can ask to reopen and split by going to Community Support..  but again, I really don't mind at all..  :)

Fatal_ExceptionSystems EngineerCommented:
Thanks rl (and angel)...  and a Happy Holiday Season to all!
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