In-Depth

Tales from the Trenches: Network Nemesis

Only a hunch saved the day.

I went to a client site where users were having problems logging on to the network. We had just installed WatchGuard Technologies, Inc.’s WatchGuard SOHO and a Hewlett Packard ProCurve switch (the 4000M) two weeks before the problems started. User workstations running Windows 95 were purchased off-the-shelf from CompUSA, so the workstations still had the usual freebie home programs.

We hadn’t optimized the PCs yet, so we did that. I then pummeled the servers and workstations for problems. I found that the server had only 95M of free space left on the boot partition (a possible problem, but probably not the cause of our current error). Servers and workstations had IPX/SPX on them along with TCP/IP and NetBEUI. I removed IPX from all and rebooted. I ended up downloading the latest firmware for the HP switch and assigning it a static IP. Still the issue of intermittent connection to the network persisted.

After many hours and days poring over the system at the client site, I questioned all users again. Again, no new details.

On a hunch, I decided to wipe out the Network Neighborhood properties and see if that helped. Upon reboot, PnP detected the NIC; halfway through install, it asked for Client32 disk No. 1. What?! I asked the folks at the client site if the network used to be Novell-based. Of course! Whoever had changed over the network to Microsoft hadn’t done it properly, yet had successfully removed all visual signs of Novell and Client32 from the servers and workstations. I used Novell Client32 uninstall on all workstations and deleted all Network Neighborhood properties, and the network logon problem was solved.

About the Author

Ted C. Beard, MCSE, MCP+I, is a Senior Technician for Network Business Systems.

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