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Windows 7 Network Stops Seeing NAS and Linux Hosts

Posted on 2014-11-20
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Last Modified: 2014-12-10
I have an extensive LAN that comprises of three Windows 7 machines, one Synology NAS server and two Linux Ubuntu 14.04 servers.

I can no longer see either the NAS storage, or both Linux systems from any of the three Windows 7 systems. This is mystery problem that once surfaced almost a year ago, but just as mysteriously, the problem disappeared. However, it back again!!

The only way to see the NAS or the Linux system under Windows 7's Windows Explorer "network" icon is for me to go to the Explorer's address bar and enter: "\\<hostname>. And, then that host will appear in the network list. If I kill the Explorer and relaunch, the same problem is still there.

Nothing has changed other than the regular windows updates.

This is an aggravation as every time some process in Windows 7 wishes to open or save a file, my non Windows 7 network devices don't appear. Sometimes the "file selection" panel will allow me to enter the \\<hostname>.

Any ideas what this can be?
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Question by:RayRider
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by:Asif Bacchus
Asif Bacchus earned 200 total points
ID: 40456790
Are your Windows 7 and Linux machines in the same workgroup?  Have you verified they are using the exact same workgroup name?
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by:Davis McCarn
Davis McCarn earned 200 total points
ID: 40457131
Its an issue with the computer browser service which is used to determine which PC maintains the list of network devices.  Your easiest fix is to set the non-windows devices to static ip addresses and then add them to the LMHOSTS file in system32\drivers\etc.
Here, as example, is the pointer to my "server":
192.168.0.100      ECC-13      #PRE
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Author Comment

by:RayRider
ID: 40460159
DavisMcCarn:

I followed your advice and created an lmhosts file in c:\windows\system32\drivers\etc. I added the three Linux IP address with the hostname. Windows will not see these systems in the Windows Explorer when it is launched. As I mentioned before, once I go to the address bar at the top and enter: \\<hostname>, I see the host in the "network" list.

I can ping each server. I can see them in a "net view <hostname> (by name and IP address, and also by \\<hostname>.

The bottom line is that the Windows Explorer is NOT going to show these hosts by default, even though Windows own network tools show the devices on the network.

And, lastly, probably if I wait a couple of months, they will suddenly show up again.
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Davis McCarn earned 200 total points
ID: 40460572
Did you reboot and do the PC's think they are in a Work network?
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by:madunix
madunix earned 100 total points
ID: 40460611
Are you able to see your NAS at your Network? What name or address are you NAS? Did you change the IP address of the NAS?  Did you assign a static IP for NAS or DHCP?  Reboot the NAS, after the reboot is finished, get the Synology Assistant regains communication with the Synology, ...
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Author Comment

by:RayRider
ID: 40460827
Answer to last questions:

DavisMcCarn:

I did reboot. The problem PC sees the network in every aspect except "Windows Explorer cannot by default see either Linux server, nor the Synology NAS storage server. Once I launch Windows Explorer, I go to the address bar at the top and enter: \\<hostname1>, \\<hostname2> and finally \\<hostname3>. Then, these servers will be visible under the "Network" icon. Just for ease, I am simply leaving Windows Explorer open, but minimized, because if I terminate and relaunch, I have to do the same three steps again.

madunix:

The network is working. No IP's address have changed. All are static. As I have been saying all the time, the complaint is that Windows Explorer on initial launch "by default", will NOT show NON Windows 7 hosts, only Windows 7 hosts under the "network" list to the left and bottom of Windows Explorer. I "have to force these hosts to show up by going to the address bar on the top of the Windows Explorer window and enter each missing host with the format of: \\<hostmane>

I hope this clears up what I am experiencing. Thanks for the help. Any other advice is solicited.
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Expert Comment

by:Davis McCarn
ID: 40460833
Do the PC's think they are in a Work network or a Homegroup?
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Author Comment

by:RayRider
ID: 40460858
Under the network and Sharing Center, it is shown as a "Home network". I don't think that has ever been changed, at least by me. Should I change it to a "Work network"?
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Expert Comment

by:Davis McCarn
ID: 40461006
On 7 or 8, a Home network won't see anything that is not 7 or 8.  I never set it as a Home network so; yes, change it to a Work network.
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by:Asif Bacchus
Asif Bacchus earned 200 total points
ID: 40461518
By default, Windows will only see other computers in the same Workgroup.  That's why I asked if they are in the EXACT same named workgroup.  Homegroup does not apply to SMB connections like Linux.  Ubuntu has been flaky with SMB workgroup connections with Windows machines, I know later version of 10.x and 11.x worked, but 14.x has had some issues.  Are your Ubuntu machines fully updated?
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Author Comment

by:RayRider
ID: 40461981
They are updated according to Webmin,  except one is 12.02 LTS and the other is 14.04 LTS. Also the Synology NAS  storage device does not show up by default either. Maybe it is a Windows Explorer problem that Windows updater has broken? All all window systems auto update. I need a mac machine here to see how it would respond.
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Expert Comment

by:Asif Bacchus
ID: 40462743
Not to sound like a broken record, but can you please confirm that you've checked all the devices and they are in the same workgroup?  It shouldn't matter, but I have seen it before where case affects things.  To be safe, I usually ensure all systems are using the same workgroup name in ALL CAPITALS (i.e. WORKGROUP as opposed to workgroup).

As for the the concern over windows update, I would almost guarantee that isn't the source of the problem.
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Author Comment

by:RayRider
ID: 40477554
This post is not abandoned. I have not found a solution from either the experts here, or my own efforts.
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LVL 42

Expert Comment

by:Davis McCarn
ID: 40478256
Have you changed the network type to a work network?
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Expert Comment

by:Asif Bacchus
ID: 40485442
Have you tried placing a few machines into a different workgroup as a test?  If they show up under the new workgroup and not the old then you could have an issues with timeouts via 'network discovery'.  If they still don't show up, then you can rule out a naming issue and we can look into other causes.
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Author Comment

by:RayRider
ID: 40491566
Like before, this problem has "mysteriously" corrected itself after seeing this problem for so many weeks. It corrected itself last night after an automatic windows update. I came in this morning to find my system at the "logon screen" as windows had updated and restarted. Once I logged on to the desktop, all the servers and shares were visible.

Who knows???
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Expert Comment

by:Asif Bacchus
ID: 40491793
Is this usually the case, that after a restart you can see the workstations in question?
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Author Comment

by:RayRider
ID: 40491864
I never saw them after a restart. The only access was to enter in address of browser: \\hostname. After this last update and restart today, Windows Explorer will "populate" all hosts in workgroup network places "automatically" on Explorer launch. I may just as mysteriously quit tomorrow - today it behaves normally.
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