Networking Windows XP, 95/98, and Network Printer

Wow, What a Way to bring in the New Year!

Network Internet Connections

Needed to help a buddy hookup a network between two Windows XP computers (one a Toshiba laptop, and the other a new Dell Vostro desktop), two old Dell Windows 95 computers, a System 2000 computer, and a networked Brother MFC FAX/Printer/Scanner/Copier. Well, he had a network working with NetBeui, using a network HUB, and a strange Bridge setting on the Toshiba laptop XP system, but when the new Dell Vostro desktop was installed, the network stopped working.

After my buddy had spent four hours on the phone with Dell Tech Support, they decided to send out a repair guy to try a new motherboard. This was after Tech Support tried everything under the sun software wise to get the system to function. My friend is still in the stone-ages for Internet connectivity. He is on a Dial-Up Modem. No high speed service is available where he is located. To far away for DSL from the phone company, and no high speed cable service in his area. Satellite communications is still questionable as far as he is concerned. So, can you image when the Dell Tech support person got online and tried to control his new computer? Slow as molasses for the mouse movement. Got to hand it to Dell, the person went none stop for four hours straight, even though the problem was not fixed.

The Network Problem

Sometimes the Dell Vostro would show up on the network and sometimes it would not. This was the case with even looking at itself on the network. Sometimes it was there and sometimes it was not. Dell tried turning off Windows firewall protection and Norton Internet Firewall Security but that did not seem to change anything. So, that is when they decided to go to the next level, and try the hardware. Because of the holiday season, it was going to take a couple of days to get the motherboard. So, we put our heads together and tried tackling the network issue ourselves.

Since the network was on an old network HUB (read about: The difference between Hubs, Switches, and Routers), I decided to try a couple of spare routers, using DHCP to supply IP addresses to the computers and the network printer. Low and behold, we thought the problem was fixed, but such was not the case. The network still bombed out. Back to the original problem after trying it for some time. The problem was still the disappearing computers on the network. Funny though, the old Windows 95 computers could talk to the Dell Vostro with Windows XP operating system, but not the other way around. Also tried swapping network cables with no change in the problem. FYI, my buddy ordered the Dell Vostro with Windows XP operating system instead of Windows Vista by choice just before the holidays. It arrived a couple of days after Christmas.

I decided to call it a night. My buddy however, started digging through the documentation. Apparently when he turned off Norton Internet Security it started working much more reliably. The network was stable for a couple of hours and he thought that was it. However, after leaving it on overnight, it was discovered that the network was nonoperational again in the morning. So, the service call was still scheduled. Dell contracts out to independents in the local areas for service. The guy came out with a new motherboard and swapped it out a day latter.

Finally, everything seemed to stabilize, but we also tried a different router and setting Norton Internet Security Zones for trusted sources (the other computers’ IP addresses) and everything was talking with each other.

Microsoft I figured probably had Windows Updates available for the XP system, even though it was a week old. This was indeed the case. On a dial-up modem it only took four hours to download and install!

Computer Lessons Learned

Technology is changing so fast, that even the customer service techs have trouble keeping up with the new software. The support people are not fully aware of the full spectrum of protection that Norton Internet Security software was doing on the computer from a network standpoint.

Computers are supposed to save time. Ha Ha. Think about all the problems you have had with your computers over the years. Do they really save time? I think not, but in some ways the computers have filled our times with other activities. Internet browsing, searching for products and services, comparing prices, shopping for the new car, and even to the point of replacing TV for online videos.

Just like anything purchased anymore, the customer needs to become more of an expert and pay particular close attention to details.

By-the-way: Networking Mac OS X and Windows XP and Windows 2000

I decided that I would hook up a Windows XP, Windows 2000, and Mac OS X computers that I had together. Took a bit of research online about sharing between the software platforms, but after finding out how to do the settings, everything seemed to function. For advice on how to: Networking Mac and PC, do a Google Search. Good information is available online.

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