Connection drops on upload



  • So, my roommate has "computer problems" - and since I'm the "computer guy", I've been delegated to fix those. Oh well, might win me a week off cleaning the kitchen, so why not.

    The setup is, well, museal. A hunk of loud metal running one of those "Windows XP Pirate Edition" systems, with some old Intel, 1GB of RAM, and most importantly an nForce network controller.

    The problem... rather bizarre. Whenever you try uploading something, the connection just keels over and dies until the next restart. The outgoing packets are being sent, and you can browse the Web, download files, etc... but add even a small attachment to an email? Bam, no connection. Try to upload a photo to imgur or something? Dead. Run SpeedTest? The download test runs at full speed, but the upload doesn't even start.

    I tried getting the connection through my router, but when the connection goes down it also loses connectivity to the router and any attached devices, and my PC works fine, so the problem is likely somewhere around the network card. I tried updating the drivers - didn't help at all. I can disable the Local Area Connection via Control Panel, but I can't enable it back once it's down - it claims to fail to obtain an IP address, but since that's the first point on the list it probably just refuses to work. The cabling doesn't look too much out of place, and the diode at the back shines as it should.

    Any insights? All I can find is contradictory cargo-culting over the driver settings with little to no explanation as to what, or why, should actually work.



  • @Maciejasjmj said:

    The outgoing packets are being sent, and you can browse the Web, download files, etc... but add even a small attachment to an email? Bam, no connection. Try to upload a photo to imgur or something? Dead.

    Could it be some kind of anti-malware software trying to intercept uploads?

    Try the first rule of tech suport: boot an Ubuntu LiveCD. Guaranteed to isolate 75% of common problems within 10 minutes, or your money back!



  • @anonymous234 said:

    Could it be some kind of anti-malware software trying to intercept uploads?

    There's AVG and some other crap running, but I disabled it and went through a Task Manager killing spree and it didn't do much.

    @anonymous234 said:

    Try the first rule of tech suport: boot an Ubuntu LiveCD.

    Makes sense, it apparently "worked before the reinstall". Now, if only I had any optical media at home...



  • @Maciejasjmj said:

    Now, if only I had any optical media at home...

    You just need an USB drive.



  • @anonymous234 said:

    You just need an USB drive.

    Yeah, that's why I don't have any, but I doubt this hunk of metal will boot from USB.




  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    So. I super vaguely recall the nforce NIC being a colossal piece of trash. Either it or its successor nforce 2 NIC had a management IP that's only accessible from the host. Running on that IP is a web server. In the fucking hardware. Which controls all sorts of low level shit for "gaming optimization".

    It might be switchable in BIOS. I don't remember, I trashed all that hardware years ago.

    If so equipped, this may be where the problem lies.

    If it were still 2003 I'd tell you to go buy a 10 dollar RTL8139. I assume 10/100 PCI NICs are still available.



  • My suggestion is to take the old PC, throw it into the sea, and then buy a cheap new one which at least ought to have a warranty for the first few months.



  • As a working PC fixit guy, I would expect your path of least wasted time to involve disabling the existing NIC and installing a PCI/PCIE replacement, preferably one with an Intel NIC on it; Realtek is usually good enough if you can't get Intel, and will cost less.

    If possible, avoid running the setup program that ships with the NIC to install the driver. Instead, extract the folder containing the correct INF and SYS files (7-Zip will generally be able to pull these out of a setup program, if they're embedded) and point the Device Manager at the extracted INF; NIC installers love to fill your system with useless network-management bloatware.

    If you're curious enough to spend effort on finding out WTF is actually broken, your first port of call for evidence-gathering on any curly networking issue should be Wireshark. That should let you characterize the last packet in or out of the NIC before it falls over. It also has the benefit of making you look extra technical to your roommate, which will let you charge more non-cleaning days for what you're doing.

    If the problem started immediately after a Windows reinstall, there's a good chance that a driver for the wrong Windows version managed to get itself auto-installed (yes, that happens). Another fairly common way for network drivers to end up busted is for Windows to install multiple instances of a given driver for a single piece of hardware (that happens too). The way to fix both of those is:

    1. Obtain an installer for the correct driver, preferably one you can manually unzip to get to the folder containing only the driver's INF and SYS files; that way you can eventually use the Device Manager to install it instead of whatever buggy POS installer it ships with, and you end up with a clean driver installation and no added bloatware.

    2. Uninstall anything NForce-related using Add/Remove Programs.

    3. Open a CMD window and paste in

      set devmgr_show_nonpresent_devices=1 devmgmt.msc

      When the Device Manager appears, tick the Show Hidden Devices option (it's in the View menu IIRC). This will reveal all installed instances of every driver, whether or not Windows thinks they're associated with current hardware. Uninstall all instances of the nForce NIC, checking the "remove driver files" box each time.

      Note: on Windows Vista and later the Show Hidden Devices option reveals drivers for missing hardware by default, and there's no need for the environment variable step.

    4. Right-click the root entry in the Device Manager tree and choose "Scan for new hardware". That should find your NIC and list it in the "Unknown devices" branch. Then use the Device Manager, or at a pinch the shipped installer, to install the correct driver.


  • Impossible Mission Players - A

    If it literally is Windows Pirate Edition, that's a feature.

    Microsoft added some nag behaviors in to certain WinXP updates to do things like that. The backlash was a little extreme, so they didn't really pursue that option in future versions.


  • Dupa

    @Maciejasjmj said:

    Yeah, that's why I don't have any, but I doubt this hunk of metal will boot from USB.

    You don't need any of these.

    Download Ubuntu and unetbootin. Unetbootin will allow you to attach Ubuntu to the system partition and then boot from it. It works flawlessly and is even installable in that mode.





  • nForce you say?

    I seem to recall there were some... interesting... settings on the NIC driver for those.

    I know there was one setting where it would basically drop packets if you tried to play World of Warcraft with it on.

    It's been too long for me to tell you which setting that was, though.


  • Impossible Mission Players - A

    @Weng said:

    I assume 10/100 PCI NICs are still available.

    Gigabit PCI nics are still available (Bought one for raisins not too long ago from eBay).


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    Gigabit is exotic hyper advanced technology from the future.

    .... I should probably upgrade my house to CAT6 and replace the switch.


  • Impossible Mission Players - A

    @Weng said:

    Gigabit is exotic hyper advanced technology from the future.

    No, Fiber Optic is exotic technology from the ages. :P



  • @tar said:

    My suggestion is to take the old PC, throw it into the sea, and then buy a cheap new one which at least ought to have a warranty for the first few months.

    I enjoy the idea, but... not quite an option.

    Anyway, Wireshark wasn't of much help - right after starting the upload all I get from then on is an assload of TCP Retransmission messages, and as far as I can tell nothing ever comes in to the interface when that happens, though it's still kicking and trying to send things out to the router.

    On Ubuntu everything works fine, though, so for now I advised a reinstall of clean, non-pirate-fucked XP (which I probably would anyway, since God knows what else they fucked up when customizing the damn thing) and we'll see what happens then.


  • Impossible Mission Players - A

    @Maciejasjmj said:

    all I get from then on is an assload of TCP Retransmission messages

    I'm wondering why you never encountered the IRQ_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL BSOD at that point, as obviously the driver fsck'd up talking to the card.



  • @Tsaukpaetra said:

    I'm wondering why you never encountered the IRQ_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL BSOD at that point

    Actually, I did once or twice on shutdown, but that was before reinstalling the drivers. Since then, no BSODs.

    It does look like a driver fuckup, but if wiping the old drivers and installing the new ones straight from nVidia didn't fix that, then I'm not sure it can be fixed without nuking the damn thing from orbit.


  • Impossible Mission Players - A

    @Maciejasjmj said:

    nuking the damn thing from orbit.

    Maybe not that much, contamination seems fairly localized. I'm sure a nuke from the upper ceiling level should suffice.


    Filed under: Because launch point makes such a big difference for nuke's destination point of contact...



  • @Weng said:

    Gigabit is exotic hyper advanced technology from the future.

    .... I should probably upgrade my house to CAT6 and replace the switch.

    Gigabit works just fine over CAT5E. D-Link and TP-Link both offer really cheap gig switches that work just fine.



  • @Maciejasjmj said:

    On Ubuntu everything works fine

    If I were working on that PC, I would certainly be doing the device manager dance I outlined upthread before contemplating a Windows reinstall. Way less wasted time if it actually fixes it, not much more if it doesn't.

    Edit: netsh winsock reset and netsh int ip reset are also very quick things to try that sometimes fix busted Windows networking, especially after a malware cleanup.


  • Impossible Mission Players - A

    @flabdablet said:

    netsh winsock reset and netsh int ip reset

    Ah yeah, forgot about those. It's been so long since I've had to do things like that, they're in the Archives...



  • @flabdablet said:

    netsh winsock reset and netsh int ip reset

    Tried, didn't work. I'll check the Device Manager tomorrow, but after nuking the old drivers Windows didn't even recognize either the card or the bus enumerator until I manually pointed it to the .ini files from the unpacked installer folder, so I'm not having my hopes too high.



  • @Maciejasjmj said:

    all I get from then on is an assload of TCP Retransmission messages, and as far as I can tell nothing ever comes in to the interface when that happens, though it's still kicking and trying to send things out to the router.

    Is there any consistency to the packet pattern just before you start seeing nothing but retransmit attempts?

    Oh, one more old brain cell just fired up and reminded me that I've seen busted nForce networking fixed by shutting down the PC, then actually unplugging it and leaving it sit for a few minutes. At least part of the nForce hardware runs off standby power (probably has to do with implementing wake-on-LAN) and doesn't get reset until mains power is actually completely gone.



  • @Maciejasjmj said:

    after nuking the old drivers Windows didn't even recognize either the card or the bus enumerator

    That says to me that the hardware's been left in an odd state by whatever the driver did to it to make it fail. I'd try removing all drivers for that NIC including any hidden instances, then a total powerdown + 2 minutes rest, then see if device manager picks up the NIC as an unknown device as it should.



  • @flabdablet said:

    Oh, one more old brain cell just fired up and reminded me that I've seen busted nForce networking fixed by shutting down the PC, then actually unplugging it and leaving it sit for a few minutes. At least part of the nForce hardware runs off standby power (probably has to do with implementing wake-on-LAN) and doesn't get reset until mains power is actually completely gone.

    Unplug all wires, including the NIC connection to the switch. Rarely makes a difference, I know, but you seem to have one of those rare problems on your hands.

    @flabdablet said:

    That says to me that the hardware's been left in an odd state by whatever the driver did to it to make it fail. I'd try removing all drivers for that NIC including any hidden instances, then a total powerdown + 2 minutes rest, then see if device manager picks up the NIC as an unknown device as it should.

    ++

    EDIT: If that fails, only other thought is to upgrade the NIC firmware, if available, prior to nuking from orbit.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    Yeah, it works, but I'm thoroughly displeased with the topology. Particularly because it all terminates in a spot where there is no longer a wall.



  • I know you mentioned something about "cargo culting" on adapter settings, but have you gone into the NIC settings and disabled "Large send offload"?


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