Windows XP Network Troubleshooting

You’ve installed a network card (also known as a network interface card, network adapter, NIC; if you’re strictly using a wired Ethernet network, they’re also know as an Ethernet card or Ethernet adapter), and it doesn’t seem to work at all. The computer can’t communicate with the network in any way. Here are some possible solutions.

Install the Right Driver Program

All major network card manufacturers have Web sites where you can go to download driver programs. Download and install the latest version for each network card, making sure that it supports the version of Windows that the computer is running. If there’s no Windows XP driver, try the Windows 2000 driver.

Try a Different Slot

Un-install the network card in Device Manager, power down the computer, remove the card, insert it in a different slot, and reboot. Let Windows detect the card and install the driver program. On motherboards with an AGP graphics slot, the top-most PCI slot can be unsuitable for use by a NIC.

Specify Explicit Speed and Duplex Settings

By default, network cards are configured to automatically detect the proper speed and duplex settings. This automatic sensing can fail, preventing the computer from accessing the network.

In Windows XP, right click the network connection and click Properties | Configure Advanced. In Windows 95/98/Me, go to Control Panel | Network, double click the network adapter, and click Advanced. The name of the appropriate setting depends on the particular network card. Specify explicit speed and duplex settings that work on your network. Most switches and hardware routers use 100 Mb, full duplex. Hubs use half duplex. Here’s an example, showing how to configure an SMC 1211TX network card that’s connected to a switch.