Friday, November 24, 2006

A Thanksgiving Computer Job

After dinner, I put in some work on a computer my mom's friend brought me. It was a good experience because it was a slight challenge. I'm just going to go over the case below.

Client complains of: computer will not connect to the Internet.

Initial diagnosis: software problem, probably a driver gone bad.

Observations:
hardware OK. Computer detects modem and ethernet adapter.
Drivers working alright
Internet explorer has trouble finding Internet connection.
AOL fails to connect via TCP/IP.
Ethernet adapter detects network, fails to obtain network address. Fails over to APIPA (Automatic Private IP Addressing).

Actions:
Look for any adware/spyware that may cause problems and remove programs. Remnants of Kazaa indicate likelihood malware is the cause of problems.
Tried to change network settings in case it's a matter of bad configuration. Computer still fails over to APIPA.
Set static IP. This prevents APIPA. Able to ping the router. IE still cannot find Internet.
Tried disabling and enabling hardware, no result.
Turned off APIPA via Windows registry, no benefit.
Uninstalled AOL 8.0, no success.
Installed AOL 9.0 to let software install possible solution. No connection, even with TCP/IP. Dial up initiates, but does not get past authentication.

Diagnosis:
Definitely a software issue. Specifically, Winsock is damaged. I came to this conclusion because the hardware part is functional and all the "client" software has connection problems.

Treatment:
Repair Winsock. Obviously, one of the layers is damaged and blocking communication between the "client" software and hardware. Several free utilities are available online to reinstall Winsock.

Result:
Full Internet access restored. AOL can connect via TCP/IP and dial-up. IE is able to connect by both routes as well. Problem fixed.
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