Empty Network Connection and Device Manager

3 08 2008

My boyfriend had the oddest problem this morning with his computer. Just thought I’d share it with everyone, maybe it will prove to be helpful for someone having the same problem.

Background:
I use the wireless on my macbook; he plugs directly in to the wireless router with his XP desktop. I was connected just fine this morning, but he had no internet connection, no icon in the task bar, and no connections in “Network Connections”.

Steps:
My first thought was maybe the network adapter drivers somehow got uninstalled. I asked my boyfriend first off what he did with his computer last night, trying to see if he had done anything out of the ordinary. He had only been listening to music and going to myspace.
I checked the Device Manger, only to find it completely empty – not even the computer name showed up. Restart? He already did that. That’s when it’s time for Google.

Helpful Sites:
This forum provided a lot of suggestions, which maybe or may not be helpful. The suggestions didn’t fix all of my problems, however, I was able to get the device manger list populated again. It turns out that the plug and play service was disabled. Changing it to automatic and starting the service re-populated the device manger.
Unfortunately, the network connections list was still empty. I found that this Microsoft Knowledge Base Article was EXTREMELY helpful (surprising, I know. This maybe be one of the first useful KBs I’ve ever seen!) There a lot of different cases, and several methods that you can try. I finally got to the point where I had to make sure that the Remote procedure call, network connections, plug and play, COM+ event system, remote access connection manager, and telephony services were all started. Interestingly, all of them had been disabled. Setting all to automatic and start the services brought back the network connections.

New Problems:
It always seem that bad things happen in threes, right? Well, this was no exception. After successfully fixing the two empty lists, I was still unable to connect to the internet. I was trying acquire a network address forever. Hmm… does this have something to do with practically every service disabled?
I looked up the default status for all services and found this list. I changed every service whose default was “Automatic” and started each of those services. Doing this allowed the computer to finally to acquire a network address and connect to the internet.

It’s completely satisfying to fix a problem like this (makes me feel more confident in my skills!) Please let me know if this post has helped you solve a similar problem!

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