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Client for Microsoft Networks

Alastair Grant | Friday 28 October 2011

I spent the large part of yesterday trying to figure out a problem I had with a Windows XP virtual machine.

I could not browse the network. When clicking on "View workgroup computers", nothing happened. It was like I didn't even click it.

Trying to access servers directly with the DNS/NetBios/IP address through a UNC path failed too:

"Windows cannot find 'computer'. Check the spelling and try again..."

Trying to map a network drive had similar results. The issue was clear; there was a problem with NetBIOS resolution - this is usually something to do with NetBIOS over TCP/IP not being enabled on the network card. Without this Windows will fail miserably at using WINS or DNS to lookup names. But, there's always a but, this wasn't the case. These settings were enabled and when using the "net view computername" command-prompt command the destination share list came back instantly.

My gaze finally came down on the server side, I spent much of the afternoon sifting through the DNS, DHCP & AD servers, finding dozens of duplicated records and half-configured systems. After clearing out all the relevant entries I tried again. No avail.

A new day and a fresh approach - turn it off and on again. Well, more accurately, target the components in question and reinstall. So I uninstalled the "Client for Microsoft Networks" component from the adapter properties window. Doing this will remove the components from all adapters, and indeed the computer. I rebooted and then re-installed the client in the same window and another reboot later everything magically kicked into life.

I have no idea what caused this to break, I've got no idea what setting had been switched somewhere, but reinstalling the component did the trick. I can now browse the network again.

Not that I wanted to. Firewall firmly up now and it's all being blocked - but it's the principle.

Breaking from the voyeuristic norms of the Internet, any comments can be made in private by contacting me.