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Windows 98 and Windows XP Networking Problems

Bad drivers?

Perhaps the most common networking problem (aside from bad wiring or a bad router) is with the NIC... network interface card.   The card may be fine but the software drivers might be corrupted.  The easiest way to correct this is to simply enter the device manager.

CAUTION: Though Windows XP has built-in drivers for a gazillion products, it is wise to do have the disk with your drivers on it before beginning this process... just in case.  If you don't have one, try to download them from the manufacturer's website.

It's in the SYSTEM folder in the Control Panel...  click on the HARDWARE tab at the top and then on DEVICE MANAGER. Now a list of all the hardware in your computer will be displayed.  Find the folder called NETWORK ADAPTERS.  Click the little "plus" sign next to NETWORK ADAPTERS to expand the list and right click on your adapter. (You'll most likely have only one and it will be called "ethernet adaper" with a brand name and perhaps even a number.)  Select UNINSTALL.  You'll get a warning and then just say OKAY.  The adapter will disappear.  Then, reboot.  (You could also click on ACTION and select SCAN FOR HARDWARE CHANGES but I prefer to reboot anyway.)

Windows will redetect the NIC and reinstall the drivers and set the NIC to the default state, which will work for most home networks and normal routers or high speed modem/routers with no tweaking necessary.

Drivers are good but still problems with some computers...

I was having a problem getting an older Windows 98 computer to network consistently with my main Windows XP computer.  One really annoying problem is if I tried to look at another networked computer in XP, it would take a ridiculously long time to hook up, often locking up Explorer so tight I had to Control-Alt-Delete to shut it down!!  Not pretty...

Our office connects to the Internet through a broadband router, all indicator lights were on and both computers could connect to the Web, just not to each other, so I was sure it was a software problem, not a hardware problem.

I tried all sorts of changes to the sharing and security settings in the XP machine, but nothing seemed to work consistently.  One interesting thing I found was I could transfer files from the XP machine to the 98 machine, but if I tried to transfer anything from the 98 machine to the XP machine I received an out-of-memory error message like:

"Not enough memory to complete this transaction.  Close some applications and retry."

AFter lots of research, turns out the problem was indeed with the XP computer.  There is an arcane setting in the registry that limits the amount of memory for transfers between an XP computer and any other machine.  Interestingly, some XP installations don't have this problem... others do. (Of course... it's Windows!!)

The solution was to make a change to the following registry setting.  BE AWARE THAT FOOLING WITH THE REGISTRY IS RISKY.  Back up your registry first... then carefully make the changes to see if they work.  The key that needs changing is:


You should see a parameter called "IRPStackSize".  The default value is 15 (decimal).  However, some installations of XP set the number lower.  Mine was set at 11.  I increased the value to 15 and the network is humming!!

If you don't have this value, you can create it.  It's called a "dword" value.  Type the name exactly... including caps... and select modify, choose decimal and start with 15, increasing by 5 till it works (hopefully.)

There is more on this on the Microsoft website: