Saturday, August 15, 2009

Computer Problems


I was planning on having such a productive day today: Updating this blog, posting to another one, cleaning up the rest of my e-mail, maybe even doing some vacuuming and ironing for once. Instead, I dealt with computer problems for the majority of the day.

Yesterday I spent nine hours logged into a virtual private network (VPN), downloading files from one server to another. (I'll talk about why I did that in another post someday.) Everything seemed to go fine; the application I was using to download the files crashed every so often and I had to keep restarting it but the person I was working with said that was to be expected. The VPN was stable and never dropped, though, which was a huge plus. The download still hadn't finished by 11:00 at night so I figured I'd let it run some more today and hopefully it would finish then. (Unfortunately the download is blind for me: I can see how much is downloaded to the target server but I can't see how much of the total it's done or how much it has to go. The application is definitely lacking in the feedback area, if you ask me!)

This morning I went to the vet to pick up a refill of some medicine for my cat, then I came home and thought I'd get some work done on the computer. I turned on my laptop that I use for everything these days, it booted normally, and I waited for the network to connect for Internet access... but it never did. I figured our Internet provider may have reset things on their server as they sometimes do so I reboot the modem and the router, then reboot the computer; still no connection. We also have a desktop computer so I turned that on to see if the Internet worked there; it did so that proved it wasn't a problem with the ISP. I attempted to connect the laptop directly to the modem (bypassing the router); still no connection. After trying a few other things I narrowed it down to being a problem somewhere in the laptop itself: It was as if there was some switch in there telling the network adapters (wireless and LAN) not to turn on. I'm no system administrator (and don't want to be!) but whenever these things happen I learn more about the inner workings of computers than I ever wanted to know. Using the working Internet on the desktop here are some of the rabbit trails I followed today:
  • tunnel adapters
  • TCP/IPv6
  • ipconfig
  • netsh
  • BIOS
(I'm guessing most of you reading this don't know what most if not all of those things are. If so don't worry, count your blessings and hope you never need to know.)

After SEVEN HOURS of failing to fix the problem (and becoming pretty frustrated and agitated with the thought of having to take my computer to a repair place and leave it for a few days) I finally read a post in a forum that happened to talk about a setting in the BIOS... Once I found the BIOS in my Windows Vista computer I found the setting, which was indeed turned off (disabled). I turned it on (enabled) and to my total surprise the network connected and I had Internet access—just as I was about to give up and take it to the repair place. So what was that setting in the BIOS? "Internal Network Adapter Boot" (or something like that). Apparently Windows Vista (which is on my laptop) has a BIOS setting that has to be enabled for the network adapters to "turn on" during the boot process; if that setting is disabled the computer boots up without them and the network can't connect. The fact that Windows still recognized the adapters and said they were enabled didn't help things during my problem-solving endeavor.

I have no idea how that setting got turned off but given the variables I'm working with I suspect it has something to do with the VPN and the process surrounding downloading those files. (Which I'm continuing to do as I write this, in fact, and it still isn't finished... It's V E R Y slow over the VPN.) And I'm still having problems: After we got back from dinner (I decided I needed to go out to dinner after all this) I turned on the laptop and the network connected but not the Internet. Thankfully rebooting the modem and router worked this time and it connected again.

At this point I'm afraid to see what tomorrow might bring. Maybe I should rethink my career path and become a system administrator after all!


  1. With all of the computer issues I've had lately, I'm glad you posted this. I'll stop wasting time with our local computer fixer person and just call yoU!!

  2. that is all gobbledy-gook to me, although i'm sure my hubby would understand! LOL glad you got whatever fixed :)


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