Microsoft KB Archive/104322

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Article ID: 104322

Article Last Modified on 10/13/2003


  • Microsoft Windows for Workgroups 3.1
  • Microsoft Windows for Workgroups 3.11

This article was previously published under Q104322

kbnetwork kb3rdparty kbtshoot kbsetup


In a Microsoft Windows for Workgroups version 3.1 or 3.11 network, hardware- and software-related problems can cause one or more computers to lose the ability to browse or communicate with other computers. These problems range from no network functionality at all to random errors when transmitting data across the network.

This article provides troubleshooting steps that you can use to diagnose and resolve workstation communication problems in a Windows for Workgroups network. Note that troubleshooting communication problems is not always a straight-forward process. If one of the procedures outlined below doesn't work, go on to the next until the problem is fixed. To increase your knowledge of the major issues, you may want to read this entire article before you proceed. (This may also reduce the time needed to solve the problem.)


Before proceeding with the troubleshooting steps, consider the following:

  • Has this configuration ever worked before, or did this just start happening? If it just started, what has changed between the time this configuration was working and the time it stopped working?
  • Has new hardware, cabling, or software been added? If this new addition is removed, does the problem go away?
  • Is this problem occurring on one computer, several, or all of them? If the problem is happening on all computers, it may be cabling or connector related. If the problem is happening on only one or a few computers, it may be software or hardware related.
  • Is the connection to the computer active? (If the card has transmit/ receive data lights, are they blinking?)

IMPORTANT: Make backup copies of the following system configuration files before doing any troubleshooting:



Check Setup and Startup

  1. Check for any error messages while the computer is booting. To prevent error messages from scrolling off the screen, place a PAUSE statement at the beginning and the end of your AUTOEXEC.BAT file.
  2. Verify that the computer you are trying to view is in 386 enhanced mode and has sharing enabled. To check this, open Control Panel, choose Network, and make sure the Sharing Enabled box is selected.
  3. If this is a new network (that is, another network was NOT previously used), verify that the network card settings in the Network dialog box of Control Panel are correct.

    If Windows for Workgroups was installed over Windows 3.1 and another network (such as Novell NetWare), it is possible that the Windows for Workgroups Setup program did not detect the previous network, which may be conflicting with Windows for Workgroups. You probably need to remove changes the previous network made to Windows configuration files (primarily the SYSTEM.INI file).
  4. Run CHKDSK on the drive where Windows is installed. If Windows system files are corrupted, Windows is unstable and may need to be reinstalled. If CHKDSK shows errors, repair the errors by running CHKDSK with the /F parameter or by using a disk utility to repair the files on the hard disk drive. If there is data corruption, it may be necessary to reinstall Windows for Workgroups.
  5. Clean boot each computer (that is, load only those drivers necessary to start the computer). For more information about performing a clean boot, query on the following words in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:

    wfwg and clean boot

Browse Other Machines

Attempt to view other computers on the network in File Manager. Choose the Connect Net Drive button or choose Connect Net Drive from the Disk menu, and type the computer name preceded by two backslashes, for example


in the Path box, and then press ENTER.

If you can view other computers on the network by manually entering computer names but you cannot view these computers during normal operations, consider the following possible causes:

  • A "browse server" may not have been selected on the network. In Windows for Workgroups, a computer that maintains a list of Workgroups servers is selected. Sometimes this takes from 5 to 15 minutes to establish. If no browse server exists, you cannot browse servers on the network. Wait a few minutes and try again.

If the local workstation name (but no other computer name) appears in the Show Shared Directories On dialog box, the network card is probably configured correctly, but the problem may be in the network cabling or the other computer's network card configuration.

The following possible cause applies to only Windows for Workgroup version 3.1 (all previous and following information applies to Windows for Workgroup version 3.1 and 3.11):

  • The entry for VBROWSE.386 may not be on the network= line in the [386Enh] section of the SYSTEM.INI file, or VBROWSE.386 may be missing from the Windows SYSTEM directory, or VBROWSE.386 may be corrupted. If the network= line is missing, use a text editor (such as Windows Notepad) to add the following to the [386Enh] section of the SYSTEM.INI:


    If necessary, reinstall the VBROWSE.386 file in the Windows SYSTEM subdirectory.

Check Cabling

Make sure the network cabling is connected to both the computer you are using AND the computer you are trying to communicate with. Most network problems are caused by faulty cabling and/or connectors.

Check the cabling and connectors on each workstation. If the network is using Thin Ethernet, connect two computers with a single cable, T- connectors, and terminators that are known to work properly. If the network is using twisted-pair (RJ-45) cable, you must use a HUB or concentrator. Windows for Workgroups does not support direct connections of RJ-45 cable between computers. This check isolates possible cabling and/or connector problems that may not be clearly visible.

NOTE: It may also be necessary to reroute network cabling away from sources of electrical interference (such as fluorescent lights).

If the network topology is 10Base2 (Thin Ethernet or Thinwire), place a 50 Ohm terminator on the network card. If the local computer name now appears in the Show Shared Directories On dialog box (but not when the regular cabling is attached), some type of cabling and/or connector problem exists.
Examples include an electrical short in the cabling, improper termination, and using the wrong type of cabling. Check to ensure that each computer's T- connector is secured on each network card, that 50 Ohm terminators are at each end of the network, and that RG-58 cabling (not RG-59 or RG-62) is being used.

If the local computer name does not appear in the Show Shared Directories On dialog box, the problem is with the local network card's configuration (either hardware or software). (Refer to "Test the Network Card," later in this article.)

If your wiring is 10Base2 (Thin Ethernet), a quick test to see if the cabling is the problem is to remove the T-connector and place a terminator directly on the BNC connector on the network card. If doing so causes the machine to be able to "see itself" in File Manager, the problem is most likely with the existing cabling.

If placing a terminator on the network card doesn't identify the problem (or your cabling is other than 10Base2), try the following steps:

  1. Change the IRQ and/or I/O address that the network card is using.
    To do so with software-configurable network cards:

    1. Open Control Panel, then choose the Network icon.
    2. Choose Adapters, then choose Setup.
    3. Select a different IRQ and/or I/O address. You may need to try several selections if you do not know what your other hardware is configured to use.
  2. Reinstall the network card drivers as follows:

    1. Clean boot your system. To do this, remove the Windows for Workgroups network drivers and any unnecessary entries from the CONFIG.SYS and AUTOEXEC.BAT files. For more information about a clean boot, query on the following words in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:

      wfwg and clean boot

    2. Rename the PROTOCOL.INI file, which is usually in the Windows directory unless you are using disk-compression software. If disk- compression software (such as SuperStor) is used, the PROTOCOL.INI file should be in the root directory.
    3. Restart the computer and start Windows for Workgroups. You will receive at least one error message about the network drivers being loaded; this is to be expected.
    4. In Control Panel, choose Network, then choose Adapters. The list of Currently Installed Adapters should be blank. Choose Add and select your network card from the list that appears.

      NOTE: If the network card is hardware-configurable (with jumpers or DIP switches), the settings on this screen need to match the actual settings of the jumpers or switches on the card, unless they say "Automatic or unused."

      If the card is software-configurable, you may need to select a different IRQ, I/O Address, or RAM Address to resolve a connectivity problem. For example, some disk controllers come configured using I/O 300h, which is also the default for some network cards.
    5. Restart the computer and attempt to communicate with other computers on the network as described in "Browse Other Machines" above.
  3. Check the SYSTEM.INI file for the following lines and remark them out if they exist. To remark out a line from the SYSTEM.INI file, place a semicolon (;) at the beginning of the line.

          TimerCriticalSection=<any value>
          V86ModeLanas=<any value>
  4. Rebuild the Windows startup files (WIN.INI and SYSTEM.INI). For more information about rebuilding the SYSTEM.INI file, query on the following words in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:

    system.sr_ and wfw

    To rebuild the default WIN.INI file, expand WIN.SR_ from Windows for Workgroups Disk 3. To do this, place Disk 3 in a floppy disk drive, type the following, and press ENTER:

    c:\windows>expand x:win.sr_ -r

If Windows for Workgroups is still not working after you complete the steps above, and it has worked previously, the next step is to reinstall Windows for Workgroups in another directory.

Reinstalling Windows for Workgroups in a clean directory should restore the configuration to the point at which it was working when first installed. When you start the Windows for Workgroups Setup program, choose Custom Setup, and enter a new directory name, such as C:\WFWTEST.

If Windows for Workgroups still is not working correctly, it is most likely that some type of problem with your cabling, connectors, or network card exists.

Test the Real Mode Redirector

The following test uses the Windows for Workgroups network components to generate a NetBIOS name conflict on the network (each computer must have a unique computer name on the network). To do this test, set two computers to the same computer name and check to see if an error message is generated. If an error message is displayed, the computers are communicating. If no error occurs, a hardware problem exists on the network.

  1. To change the computer name, do one of the following:
    • Change the value for Computername in the Network dialog box of Control Panel.

    • Edit the SYSTEM.INI file and change the setting for ComputerName= in the [Network] section to the name of another computer.
  2. Reboot the computer, then start the real mode redirector by typing the following at the MS-DOS command prompt:

    net start workstation

  3. The following error should appear:

    LANA 0 reported error 52: A duplicate workgroup or computer name exists on the network.
    For information about LANA numbers, type NET HELP 3280.

    If the error message is displayed, the two computers are communicating.

    If the error message is not displayed, a hardware problem exists with one or more of the following:

    • The network card configuration is incorrect on one or more of the computers (hardware, input/output, IRQ, UMB conflict, and so on).
    • One or more of the network cards is malfunctioning.
    • There is some problem with the cabling or connectors. This could be an electrical short; interference; or a cable, connector, or terminator that is not the correct specification for your network.

    To troubleshoot shorts and interference problems, either test the cabling with a testing device, or replace it with cables and connectors that are known to work correctly.

    For more information about cable and connector specifications, query on the following words in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:

    wfw and lan and cable and specifications

  4. Change the computer name back to its original, unique name.
  5. Restart the computer. Start the real mode redirector by typing the following at the MS-DOS command prompt:

    net start workstation

  6. Try to view another computer (which must be in Windows for Workgroups 386 enhanced mode) by typing the following:

    net view \\<computername>

    If you can communicate with other computers using the real mode redirector, the problem may be related to an upper memory block (UMB) conflict, a hardware conflict, or a virtual device driver (VxD) that is interfering with Windows for Workgroups.
  7. If you can view another computer's shared resources using the real mode redirector, type the following to stop the real mode redirector:

    net stop

If the problem still occurs, use the WIN /D:X switch, as described in the next section.

Use the WIN /D:X Switch

  1. Start Windows for Workgroups by typing the following at the MS-DOS command prompt:

    win /d:x

  2. Try to view other computers in File Manager.

    If using the WIN /D:X switch corrects the problem, the network card's memory address needs to be excluded with a UMB provider (such as EMM386.EXE) or by adding an EMMEXCLUDE=memoryaddress to the [386Enh] section of the SYSTEM.INI file. For example, if your network uses a UMA address from C800-CFFF, add the following line to the [386Enh] section of your SYSTEM.INI file:


    If using WIN /D:X doesn't allow you to view any other computers in File Manager, but you could view other computers when you quit Windows and started the real mode redirector, the problem may be caused by one of the following:

    • An IRQ, DMA channel, I/O, or RAM address conflict exists between the network card and another hardware device.

    • The settings in the Network dialog box of Control Panel do not match the actual hardware settings on the network card.

Change the Network Card Settings

To change the IRQ, DMA, I/O, and/or RAM address settings, proceed as follows:

  1. Open Control Panel, and choose the Network icon.
  2. Choose Adapters, then choose Setup.
  3. Select a different setting (or the actual hardware setting) for your network card.
  4. With some network cards, you must also change jumpers or switch settings on the card to match the settings in Control Panel. For information about configuring jumpers and switches on your network card, check the documentation that came with the card, or contact your network card manufacturer.
  5. Save your changes and exit Control Panel.

NOTE: If you cannot start Windows to open Control Panel, edit the PROTOCOL.INI file and change the settings for Interrupt=, RamAddress=, DMAChannel=, and IOBase= to unused values (for software-configurable cards) or to the actual hardware settings (for hardware-configurable cards).

When you change hardware settings (such as IRQ and I/O addresses) on software-configurable network cards (such as the Intel EtherExpress 16), you must either quit Windows, turn the computer completely off, and then restart it, or select the Restart Computer option in Windows for the new settings to take effect.

Test the Network Card Drivers

Run the Maintenance Mode of Windows for Workgroups Setup program to reinstall the network card drivers.

If reinstalling the network card drivers does not enable the local computer to "see itself" in File Manager or view other computers on the network using the real mode redirector, there are several other possible causes:

  • The correct Media Access Control (MAC) network card driver is not being used. If the card is emulating another card (such as the NE2000), it may be necessary to change jumpers or switches on the card to allow the driver to work properly. For more information about configuring the network card and obtaining updated drivers, contact your network card manufacturer.
  • The card may be in a slot that is functioning incorrectly. To verify this, try putting the network card in another slot in the computer or install the network card in another computer to determine if the card itself is defective.
  • The network card may be malfunctioning. Try using a different network card or run diagnostic tests that may have come with the card.
  • The bus speed on the computer may be too fast for the network card. Most network cards are designed to work at ISA (8.33 mHz) bus speed; setting the bus speed any faster may cause unreliable performance.

The bus speed setting is usually changed in the computer's CMOS setup. Try lowering the computer's bus speed if intermittent problems occur.

  • There may be a bad or missing connection. Some network cards, such as the Intel EtherExpress 16, come with a utility that checks the integrity of wiring and connectors between two computers. If one of these utilities is available, use it to determine whether or not the two computers are physically connected. (Refer to the "Use a Network Card Diagnostic Test" section below.)

Use a Network Card Diagnostic Test

You can run a diagnostic test on the network card to ensure it is functioning correctly. Some network card diagnostic programs can also test communication between computers and the network (this tests the card and the cabling). If this test works, then Windows for Workgroups should also work, provided the correct drivers are being used. If this low-level test does not allow two network cards to communicate, some type of hardware problem exists with a network card, the cabling, or the connectors. Contact your hardware vendor if either the network card diagnostic test or the network test fails.

NOTE: If you have the Windows for Workgroups Resource Kit, you can use the NETSTAT program included with the kit. This program tests (from MS-DOS or Windows) the status of a remote network card. This requires that the correct network card drivers be loaded on each network card and (at least) the real mode redirector be started on each computer.

If you have Intel EtherExpress network cards (which come with the Windows for Workgroups Starter and User Kits), you can use the SOFTSET utility available from the Intel bulletin board service [BBS]) to troubleshoot both the network card, as well as test the integrity of the network cabling (with the Test Network option).

If your network card is not on the supported network card list, you may want to contact the network card manufacturer for information on the correct emulation or for an updated Media Access Control (MAC) network card driver. The manufacturer may also have information on jumpers and switches that may need to be reconfigured for a particular emulation mode, for example NE2000 emulation.

For more information about diagnosing problems with your network card or cabling, contact your hardware vendor.

Additional query words: tshoot 3.10

Keywords: KB104322