Network Hardware Problems
The size and complexity of networks being used today are wide and varied. They range from cobbled together components and crossover cables to extremely complex global networks. There can be a multitude of reasons for network problems, and likewise there is a multitude of troubleshooting techniques you can use to try and locate the problem and resolve it. Given all of this, it is not the intent of the information provided below to resolve each and every problem that you may encounter trying to resolve networking issues.
Instead, the following information focuses on the four prevalent technical support issues brought to us by both customers and non-customers alike.
I have a network comprised of all 10BaseT network components, four network cards, a small 5 port hub and four CAT5 cables. I've installed the network cards, connected them to the hub and then loaded the software. When I restart Windows three computers can see themselves and two others in Network Neighborhood, but the remaining one cannot.
I have assembled my network using two network cards and a length of network cable between the two cards, but the network cards refuse to work.
I'm using 10Base2 network components (coax) consisting of two network cards and a length of coaxial cable between them. I know the network cards work because I tested them, yet I can get the network to operate properly and the computers can't see each other.
The following represents the technical support assistance that resolved each of the frequent problems noted above.
First and foremost, take your time if you want your network to function correctly. Take one step at a time and double check your steps!
Before installing any network card into an available slot on a motherboard, check to make sure that the available slot is not shared with a conflicting device. When installing a PCI card, use PCI Slot# 2 or 3. PCI slot #1 is generally shared with the AGP video card if the computer is so equipped. On computers with both PCI and ISA slots, PCI Slot #4 (or the last PCI slot) is shared with the ISA bridge and ISA hardware.
Make certain that the network card is correctly seated into its slot. Take a moment and double check that it is and then make sure that the mounting screw is firmly tightened (not over tightened). Many times a light film accumulates on the contacts along the edge of a card being inserted. If you suspect that this might be the cause, remove the card and place the contacts on a flat clean surface. Take a pink eraser and gently scrub the contacts on both sides and then wipe clean with a clean dry cloth and then reinsert the card.
Make sure that you have attached the CAT5 cables correctly and they "snapped" into place. All too often people do not fully insert the connector into the socket.
Make sure you have the correct CAT5 cables. All too often people purchase network cards and purchase the cabling locally or make up their own. On numerous occasions people have been given uplink cables instead of regular patch cables for their network. Up-link cables are used only for up-linking two hubs together. The cables we furnish either individually or in kits is tested before shipment and guaranteed to work.
When connecting the cables to the Hub, make sure that you connect the cables correctly to the appropriate slots. Re-read the instructions if necessary. Some Hubs have a slot for Up-linking. It is not to be used to make a connection to a computer.
Make sure that you have the Hub powered on correctly and that the power on indicator reflects that the hub is powered on.
If you are using a a single cable between two computers without a Hub, you must use a crossover cable.
If you have checked and then re-checked all of your hardware, then start checking your software installation. If your are using Windows 95, Windows 98 or Windows 98 Second Edition, make sure that you have installed only those protocols (TCP/IP, NetBeui, IPX/SPX) that are necessary for your operation. You will find useful networking assistance on this site as well as an abundance of information from Microsoft in their on-line resource kits. You will find that information at Microsoft's MSDN Library Online. Just expand the Resource Kit area. (Windows 95 and Windows 98 are nearly identical in this respect, so its okay to use the Windows 95 Resource Kit for general troubleshooting as the Windows 98 Resource Kit is not available on line. Windows 98 and Windows 98 Second Edition both come with their own network troubleshooter. The Network Troubleshooter can be accessed through Windows Help.
If you are still experiencing problems in Windows, make use of the Microsoft Knowledge Base.
Coaxial cabling is generally trouble free, however there are some things to watch for that cause problems.
Make sure that there are no shorts between the center copper core and the cable ends. Coax cable is made up of four (4) components, (1) a copper center conductor, (2) an insulator around the copper center conductor, (3) thin wire mesh shielding or ground and (4) the outer sheath.
When shops make up special lengths of coax cable for customers, all too often they do not check to make sure that the center conductor is isolated completely from either the end connector or the mesh ground. This creates a short and prevents the network from functioning as it should.
Checking to see if this is the problem is relatively easy. If you have a continuity meter handy, disconnect both ends of the cable and attach one of the probes to the center conductor. Now attach the other probe to either the outside of the end connector or to the mesh shielding if it's showing. If the meter shows that continuity exists, there is the problem.
If you had the cable made by a supplier, ask them to replace it. If you made the cable yourself, you'll need to remove the end connector and replace it.
Aside from the grounding or short mentioned above, another common occurrence with coax cabling is the center copper conductor not being long enough to to make contact with the receptacle inside the network card. The protruding end should be of sufficient length that you have to start the conductor into the hole in the network card "before" screwing on the connector.
Lastly, make sure that you have attached your coax cabling to the network cards correctly. You cannot connect the coax cable directly to the network card. Here is the way it must be done.
You must first attach a "T" Connector to the network card. Take a look at the example shown here.
You then attach the coax network cable to one end of the "T" Connector.
You then attach a 50 Ohm Terminator to the "T" connector opposite from where you attached the coax cable. Note: This is only necessary at each end of the network. See the example shown here.
Hopefully this information has helped you with your networking project. Our technical support staff is always available to assist our customers with issues that involve the products we offer.
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