This network issue threw me for a loop

I got sent to a network problem for one person in a office and some troubleshooting took place as well as some remediation steps. Basically the user had no network access all of a sudden. The computer had already been rebooted (the first thing IT people seem to recommend, right?)

The network card was removed from device manager and reinstalled. At that point I was dispatched to the client. I tried some basic stuff – swapped network cables. That didn’t work. Rebooted the switch. Forced the NIC into 100 Mbps Full – nope. 100 Mbps Half – nope. 1 Gbps – nope, nope. Scanned for malware. None found. I started working on it in the server room and after updating the NIC drivers, I got internet. Cool! It’s fixed.

Then I moved it back to the user’s desk and no internet again. Hmm…I guess it’s the cable drop between the network closet and the office. Temporary solution – move his computer to another desk. So we move all the components – PC, monitors, cables, keyboard, etc. And???

NO NETWORK AGAIN? Okaaay

Moved to another office on a different switch. Still no network. What? Back in the server room it started getting spotty network connectivity. Weird. Contacted Dell support and my manager. Ran a BIOS update and did a clean uninstall of the NIC from Device Manager. Reinstalled the NIC with fresh drivers from Dell. Seems to have network connectivity. Moved it back to the temporary desk. No network!!!

What is going on??

I’m scratching my head trying to figure it out. So on a whim, I decided to try 100 Mbps Full and I got network! Hooray! 1 Gbps doesn’t seem to work and Auto-negotiate doesn’t work either. So in the end it took a BIOS update, NIC driver refresh, and forcing the NIC to connect at 100 Mbps.

Nothing changed as far as I can determine. No updates were installed and the user didn’t change anything. Why it didn’t work all of sudden? Who knows? I’m just glad it’s working!

Blank Desktop, No Mapped Drives

Had a weird issue pop up recently. The background is this. The client had a new Windows 2012 server installed running as a domain controller, DHCP, DNS, and file server. Some new switches were installed.

The issue I came in to help with was that people were not able to connect to the network for some reason. These were people who just came back from a long period of time and logged in but were not getting connectivity to the network drives or printers. We thought that the solution was to put them into another port on the switches which did work for some people but for some reason it didn’t work that day.

As I was trying to figure out this problem, another issue arose. I rebooted someone’s PC who was having network connectivity problems and all I got was a blank desktop with a cursor for the mouse. Even in safe mode, I got the same symptom. Checking IPCONFIG I got the 169.x.x.x address. You know what that means, it wasn’t getting an IP assignment from the DHCP server.

Another tidbit of information – this network didn’t have folder redirection or roaming profiles so it wasn’t either of those that was causing issues. After some trial and error, I was able find a Band-Aid while we worked towards a solution. The temporary fix was to disconnect the LAN cable, log in, then connect back up. After that, people were able to use their PCs. But the issue still remained without employing the Band-Aid fix. Why are they getting blank screens with a mouse pointer and nothing else?

We don’t know exactly what fixed it but we did a few things and either one or a combination of the things we did apparently fixed the problem. Rebooted all the switches. And I found that the DHCP wizard was complaining about something not being completed. I ran through the wizard to finish it all up. I don’t remember exactly what it was but some final steps needed to be completed. I believe there are some accounts/groups that needed some DHCP service permissions that it found wasn’t done. Rebooted the new 2012 server.

After doing those, the network authentications problems, network connectivity issues, and blank screens all disappeared. My personal feeling is that the DHCP wizard needed to finish up the permissions. The reason I think that is because of the fact that client PCs were not getting IP assignments. In any case, the problem was fixed and everyone was back to work within a few hours.

Hope this helps someone.

Experience with Lenovo Tech support for my Lenovo Twist – Part Two

This a follow up from my first blog about Lenovo tech support for the Lenovo Twist trackpad problem. After about a month and a half Lenovo finally sent the correct parts and a technician to get my Lenovo Twist buttoned up. This after several appointments being set only to find that the tech didn’t have all the required parts.

Finally, though, the tech showed up all the needed parts. He proceeded to replace everything he had. Motherboard, palm rest, screen. Everything except the bottom, hard drive, and battery it seemed like. He reassembled it and booted it up. Yes!

Windows detected some hardware changes and automatically took care of the drivers, etc. That’s fine. No re-registration needed. Cool…

I gave it a quick once-over and all seemed good to go. Almost as good as new. Just like getting a brand new laptop.

A few minutes after the tech leaves, another problem pops up! I couldn’t believe it.

The touchscreen is acting all weird. It’s like someone is dragging their fingers across the screen back and forth from left to right and right to left, very fast. Man! Now I have to get on the phone and try to get this resolved. I removed and re-installed the touch screen in device manager. Tried updating the drivers and rolling it back. Still the problem materialized.

Back to the Lenovo tech support call queue. After calling the support technician that my case was escalated to, he pretty much said that I have choice between getting more parts replaced and getting a new replacement unit. Basically a replacement is new laptop. I opted to get a replacement unit but if I go that route, the replacement would have to be approved which would be, according to him, no problem at all since so many parts have been replaced already. It only takes two major component replacements to qualify for a request for replacement. By this time almost everything was replaced so qualifying wasn’t going to be a problem.

So another 3 business days later I get a call from the department that is handling the replacement and guess what? The Twist is no longer being made so the next available model that’s comparable is the ThinkPad S1 Yoga. After reviewing the specs it’s pretty much identical except the cache on the hard drive is 16GB instead of 24, or something like that. I don’t think that’s a deal breaker.

In my post about Accidental Warranties I explained how beneficial these programs are highly recommended. And for me it is definitely the case. Albeit it took a few weeks, in the end I didn’t have much down time and the problem is getting resolved.

I stand by my opinion that getting the extended and accidental coverage is a good thing. And I still recommend Lenovo ThinkPads and their warranty coverage.

Thanks for reading and hopefully there won’t be a part 3!