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  1. #1
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    Inconcistent device discovery on local network from Win 7

    I am having very frustrating problems with a local network. It is in a small home office with a DLink Dir825 router connecting 2-3 computers much of the time, two network drives (Thecus N7700PRO and Synology DS211j), and two networked printers. For some reason, when I go to Windows Explorer and expand the network, nothing appears When I map the network under the Network and Sharing Center, then I see my computer, the router, and the Internet, but no other devices.

    I can generally reach the NAS devices if I type their name or IP address into the Explorer search bar, e.g. \\N7700PRO. I can also usually reach their web consoles manually by typing, for example, http://n7700PRO in the web browser. So they are there, just not being discovered.

    When I work with a network drive manually for a while, the devices suddenly appear. For example, I was doing some program installs a few days ago, and making full image backups with Acronis between installs for safety. By the way, Acronis did not initially see the devices either. To get Acronis to back up to my N7700PRO the first time, I had to type the full path, e.g. \\n7700PRO\backup\Aconis\Foldername\file name.tib in the file name window. Once this was done, Acronis let me incrementally update the image backup by selecting update.  (Acronis 2011) However, I noticed that after a few such backups, I went back to Windows Explorer and now not just the N7700PRO but also the DS211j and another Win XP computer were showing up. They continued to show up through a few reboots, but when I turned off the computers (the other devices run all the time) the next morning, all the devices were missing again. I have seem them come and go before, but I am not quite sure of the sequence of events that cause the change.

    I went into the Advanced Settings for Network and Sharing, and made sure that network discovery, file and folder sharing, and public folder sharing are all enabled. I enabled 56 bit encription and turned off password protected sharing. I even disabled home networks by selecting to use passwords under home networks. I don't know what else to try. I checked Windows Firewall settings, and all the rules labeled Network Discovery are enabled for private networks (not domain). I also checked to make sure my router and network drives and computers all indicate "Workgroup" as their network domain or workgroup. I also checked that no credentials are stored in Windows that might have gotten corrupted.

    Any suggestions? It appears as if some service is not getting engaged most of the time. I guess I could formally map the network drives to my different computers, and presumably Windows would search for them explicitly each time it connects. But that is really not what I prefer. My Win XP computer does not seem to have the issues. However, it also seems to remember devices it saw before and list them when the network is expanded even if they are not currently on line. Win 7 seems to check and only list devices it sees when you expand the network. So there may be similar issues just appearing differently.

    Thanks. I am hoping some of the more experienced people here have a suggestion.

  2. #2
    5 Star Lounger
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    Check the NIC settings on each Win7 PC and uncheck IP v6 and see what happens.
    Chuck

  3. #3
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    NIC is set for Client for Microsoft Networks, QoS Packet Scheduler, File and Print Sharing for Microsoft Networks, TCP?IP v6, TCP/ip v4, Link Layer Topology Discovery Mapper IO Driver, and Link Layer Topology Discovery Responder. I turned off the TCP/IPv6, and it made no difference. Are these the settings you were suggesting? Thanks.

    Mark

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    One of the standard things to do when debuggin network issues is to disable the firewall.

    Joe

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    Thanks, Joe. Excellent advice. I am using only Windows Firewall, and I have already tried turning it off briefly to see if it would make a difference. I did not see any changes. Again, the strange thing is that the discovery will start working from time to time, e.g. I will begin to see all my NAS drives and computers under Explorer. The last time I saw this I was checking different configurations on my different networked devices and it started working. Kept working through several reboots. However, the next morning it was no longer working. I have not been able to get it working for any period of time since then. Something is changing, but it does not appear to be any setting because it will work and then not work without changing any settings. I am guessing it could have something to do with the order that certain things occur. I do have a reply on another message board from someone else saying his Win 7 Home Premium laptop works fine, but his Win 7 x64 Ultimate desktop does not work -- all on the same network. I have Win 7 x64 Ultimate.

    Any other suggestions are appreciated. Thanks.

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    If the troublesome Windows 7 PC is using a wireless connection have you tried a different channel?

    Joe

  7. #7
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    Thanks. While I am using a wireless capable router, all the network connections are wired Gigabit Ethernet. No wireless devices are connected at this time.

  8. #8
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    Have you tried a different ethernet cable?

    Joe

  9. #9
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    After checking all my network carefully, and even upgrading my router to a Cisco small business series, I still have the problem -- but I have the symptoms more defined. Basically, when the Win 7 computer initially scans the network, it finds only my computer (and that because I set its broadcast service to be automatic). So I expand the network in Windows Explorer, and I see only this computer. However, I typed an invalid name into search bar, and all of a sudden both of my NAS drives appeared under Network in Explorer. This strongly suggests to me that whatever network scanning service or protocol Win 7 uses by default does not find these devices on my unmanaged office network. However, when Explorer is asked to locate a device by name, it apparently starts an additional service or protocol that finds the devices. If I could just understand what Win 7 does differently when searching for a specific named device, I could try to enable it all the time. Anyone have any ideas? Thanks.

  10. #10
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    If you haven't already, I would check windows update for a possibe optional NIC update. Number one problem I had network-wise with W7 is most drivers already in 7 for NICs or ones for mobo drivers on CD were inadequate and once updated to the latest, most flaky network discovery/transfer went away.
    One possible workaround you can also try if nothing seems to work is "hardwire" the network links. In other words when you do have them in network places, drag the links/shortcuts to a folder, label the folder Net or something like that and make yourself a custom toolbar for that folder on your taskbar. If those links to the NAS and whatever else don't always work almost instantly (allowing any spinup time for power conserving network drives) from there (with discovery bypassed) then there most likely is a intermittent hardware or driver problem.

  11. #11
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    Thanks for the suggestions. On the NIC drivers, my computers are all laptops, and I generally don't download hardwire drivers from Windows Update but use the vendor download sites. However, Windows Update is not offering any new NIC drivers, and I have installed the latest drivers from the laptop vendor sites. (I now have two Win 7 laptops, one Dell and one Asus, both demonstrating the same behavior.) Your comment about making the links is an interesting one. As I read it, I am essentially making a shortcut to typing the names of the devices into the Explorer search bar. That should work, as I have generally not had any issues finding the devices when I explicitly search for them. That has been my workaround. I could also probably map the drives so Windows would try to connect on bootup, but since the laptops are used away from the office network that is not a great workaround for me. I still believe, as I suggested in my last post, that there is some Win 7 service or protocol that is not started automatically that is needed. Perhaps my NAS drives only respond to inquiries in some earlier discovery protocol that Wiin 7 does not use normally or something of that nature. I just wish I could find out what that is so I can enable it.

  12. #12
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    I have more information on this issue, but no resolution yet. Basically, it appears that the NAS drives do not respond to link layer search messages preferred by Windows 7, so I can only see them using the older NetBIOS type of discovery or NetBIOS over IP. Apparently, since I turn off my computers every night and leave the network and NASs turned on, my Thecus N7700PRO ends up establishing itself as the master browser for NetBIOS commands (this can be determined using the Nbtstat command). However, perhaps because the Thecus is a Linux system, it does not respond as preferred by Windows 7. If I reboot the Thecus while a Win 7 computer is on, or start the computer with the Thecus turned off, then the Win 7 computer takes over master browser and finds all the devices just fine. However, if I turn off the computer, but let the Thecus run all night, it will be back as it was by the next morning. I have found no way to fix this behavior. Frankly, it gets into a level of detail with networking that I wish I did not need any knowledge of, and I just barely know what it means.

    If this gives anyone some suggestions, please let me know. Thecus, by the way, said that one should not use the Thecus as the master browser on a Windows network since it is a Linux system. They suggested mapping each NAS to the computer so it will seach for and connect to them on bootup.

  13. #13
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    Thanks, Joe. I do not know any way to disable this on the NAS. There is no option in the browser-based menus, and I am not aware that I can address the underlying Linux system directly. I am not sure I would know how even if I could access the Linux system. This seems to be a very low level networking function.

  14. #14
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    See if Master browser issues with samba helps.

    If it does not help, can you disable the master browser functionality on the NAS box?

    Joe

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