Thanks, Microsoft

I’m not a tech.  I haven’t had any formal training in the field and am not at all qualified in the more advanced stuff.  However, I absolutely love working with computers and have built up a small client base, doing mostly basic maintenance and installing hardware and software as needed.  A couple of weeks ago I spent two days working on someone’s Internet connection, as it had spontaneously gone into hiding and refused to talk to the remote computer.  She has Vista Home Premium, so my guess is the connection got depressed by its surroundings and went on holiday to build up its strength.

Here are a few tips for those of you who have the misfortune of troubleshooting this same issue.  Use this information at your own risk.  Things worked out for my client and me, but it was very likely a happy accident.

The error seemed simple enough.  It largely amounted to my client’s computer not speaking to the remote computer.  I did a couple of little manoeuvres and couldn’t get anywhere.  I deleted and reset her dialup connection.  Nothing.  I disabled and re-enabled the modem, and then completely un-installed and reinstalled the little bugger.  Nothing.  My next trick was to take a break so as not to manually destroy the computer with a large hammer.

Long story short, fixing the thing involved working with the registry, Winsock, and TCP/IP.  It would have involved less, probably, had I hit on the right issue straightaway.  It’s important (read: absolutely necessary) to disable User Account Control in Vista before attempting to do anything from the command line, lest the computer repeatedly tell you you are not worthy to access such lofty controls.

The command to reset TCP/IP to default is netsh int ip reset, and as far as I know based on a little research, there are only two registry keys that are affected by this.  Still, be careful when changing anything in the registry.  Computers tend not to like that space being changed.

My client’s problem actually turned out to be Winsock’s slight disagreement with some networking software her son installed.  That called for resetting Winsock to default.  Very simple command, similar to the one listed above– netsh winsock reset.  She was able to access the Internet just fine after that.

I didn’t have to get into this deeply, but there’s also a nifty little piece of what I consider dressed up spyware that comes with Vista.  Teredo has to do with, if I understand correctly, allowing IPv6 to communicate with IPv4.  The phrase I kept seeing over and over was ‘tunnelling,’ and I kept imagining miniature Bill Gates running along the netshell.  🙂  Teredo can be disabled also from the netsh command, but at least in my experience, Vista merely laughed at my attempts and re-enabled it as soon as it wanted to.  It didn’t even bother to ask first.

Bloody frustrating operating system.  My slogan for Vista is ‘so user-friendly you just can’t use it.’

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