Network advice for a moron

I don’t know what the hell is happening. Every couple of months or so, my wireless network just up and dies for no apparent reason. I can no longer share files or play games, and have to mess around setting up the network again by running the XP network wizard. Which isn’t easy, because I get loads of lockups, have to delete connections, and so forth. Right now, the network wizard is hanging on the final configuration screen. It typically takes a few hours of screwing around before I blunder into a fix. I never lose the shared internet connection on the remote PC, however.

This is driving me nuts. I just have two PCs, linked with D-Link B hardware, and want to be able to share files, a printer, and play games. Should it be this fucking hard to do so? Is XP’s network support screwy? Have I got a problem with my hardware? I’m quickly getting to the point where I’m going to toss all my network crap out the window and forget about the whole idea.

So does anyone have any tips? Should I be using the XP stuff at all? Are there more reliable third-party apps? I hate the way that XP sets up a network, as it doesn’t seem transparent at all.

Not much advice, but I’ll offer it anyway, in case nobody else has something brilliant to say.

My router is dying. I will, on occasion (which is becoming a couple of times per day) simply lose all connectivity – internet, sharing, everything. (Well, sometimes sharing persists.) To fix it, I have to unplug the router for a sec and then plug it back in, and let go through the little testing blips, etc, for a minute or so. Then, everything’s great.

Your problem is quite likely completely different, but next time you have the problem, consider (unless someone here tells us both that I’m stupid) just unplugging your router and plugging it back in. If that fixes it, you know where your problem lies.

Like I said, could be something completely different, but it sounds similar enough to be worth a try, and it just takes a second to test.

Do you only have to fix the one PC, Brett? Do you do anything in particular before this happens, or is it totally random?

It may sound extreme, but I kind of wonder what would happen if you did a fresh Windows re-install with all relevant service packs to test this on. Or is this something you’ve tried?

I’m considering it, but I’ve got no time to handle a full reinstall right now. Anyways, the problem seems completely random. I don’t use the network very often, but every now and again I need to transfer a file or have a friend over to play a game, and I typically wind up having to spend a couple hours fixing the network before the PCs can connect.

Last night I spent three hours doing different things, uninstalling and reinstalling stuff like MS Client before I finally got the machines to see each other and fileshare. Reran the Windows network wizard a dozen times, and kept getting an unexplained error message at the end saying I had to make changes or set the network up manually. Got it going by telling it, wrongly, that the host machine isn’t the direct connection to the net. As soon as I told Windows that my host machine accessed the net via a shared connection, the network cam up.

Of course, today I’m right back to where I was. Well, almost. The machines see each other, but I’m getting messages that I don’t have permission to access shared folders. If I try to access the remote machine from the host, I get a “network path is not found” error. Man, this is ridiculous. Is D-Link prone to this sort of thing? I’m wondering if switching to Linksys or something would make a difference. Or is this Windows?

Anyhow, I’m absolutely stumped. Can someone please give me some tips on how to diagnose this? I installed Win XP SP2 last night as well for the first time; didn’t make a difference.