William here. Back to the networking problem we had been discussing before the holiday. Last time, I showed you how to determine if the problem was just a quirk or a temporary hiccup. As this particular problem wasn’t a quirk or hiccup, let’s move on to Step 2.

As a mini-recap, the scenario is this:

>>>>>The computer is one of many running on a fairly complex home network. The network has a single router and multiple network switches. When the operating system starts, the computer is unable to connect to the network or to the Internet. The computer is running 64-bit Windows 7 and has a single 1.0 Gbps network adapter.

The questions to you, the reader, were:

  • Is this an operating system problem?
  • Is this a hardware problem?
  • Is this a configuration problem?
  • Is this just a quirk or a temporary hiccup?

<<<<< 

In Step 2, you want to answer the question as to whether this is a basic hardware problem. This question may have already been answered if you looked at the Network Connections page. If the active network adapter has an adverse status, such as Disabled or Network Cable Unplugged, this is shown and the corrective action is easy. You enable a disabled adapter, plug a cable into one that has an unplugged cable.

But what about the case where you the Network Connections page is empty or doesn’t otherwise have a local area connection as it should? This does happen. You click Control Panel > Network and Internet > Network and Sharing Center > Change Adapter Settings only to find that no local area connection is listed even though you know the computer has a wired network adapter.

In this case, a quick check of Device Manager will tell you what’s going on. Device Manager is accessible from Computer Management. To start Computer Management, click Start, type compmgmt.msc in the Search box and press Enter.

In Computer Management, select Device Manager and then expand the Network Adapters node to check the status of the installed adapters. If you see a warning icon, the device has an error status that you can check by right-clicking the related entry and selecting Properties. If the device isn’t listed at all, such as would happen if the device was uninstalled, you can right-click the Network Adapters node and select Scan For Hardware Changes to have Windows check for available but not installed devices.

Consider the following:

  • If the device is listed but has an error status, you can try to install the related driver software by right-clicking the device and selecting Update Driver Software. Next, click Search Automatically For Updated Driver Software. If updated software is available, you’ll be able to install it.
  • If Windows determines that the driver software is up to date but the device still isn’t working, you’ll want to visit the device manufacturer’s web site, find the current driver, and then manually install the driver. Doing this should resolve the device problem.

A device with a normal status likely does not have a basic hardware problem. Want to have some fun and try to troubleshoot this type of problem? Well, on a test machine, go into Device Manager, expand the Network Adapters node, right-click the adapter and then select Uninstall. After you uninstall the adapter on your test computer, you can work through Step 2 of this troubleshooting scenario and see if you can use the information provided to resolve the problem.

Thanks for reading! Tune in next time, when I continue to dig in to this issue and provide a few more answers. Your comments and emails welcome, especially if you think you know the answer (and I’ll gladly tell you privately if you are right).

William R. Stanek

williamstanek at aol dot com

http://www.twitter.com/WilliamStanek