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  1. #1
    Bronze Lounger
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    Disappearing network places

    I have two XP machines networked with a LinkSys router. The Internet connection works fine--no complaints. Most of the time, the home network works just fine, too. However, from time to time, when I click on My Network Places, the folders on the "other" computer appear in the window for about two seconds, then disappear! When I try to ferret them out, I get an error message--something like, "You aren't authorized to go there" or some such thing.

    Coupla days ago, after this happened, I re-ran the network setup wizard and got things going again. Next day, the same thing happened. But yesterday, everything was working again with no action on my part! What's going on here? Perhaps I should mention that one of these computers runs McAfee Personal Firewall. I installed that back before I got the second machine and before I networked them. Could this firewall have something to do with this problem?

    Not to further complicate things, but here's another question: I've read that a router hides the individual machines from the Internet. That is, as I understand it, the router has its own IP address, so the Internet doesn't see the IP address for my individual machines. With that thought in mind, do I even need the firewall on that one computer?

  2. #2
    Plutonium Lounger
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    Re: Disappearing network places

    I too use a Linksys router and haven't had your kind of problem. Coincidentally, I happen to use McAfee for their antivirus software, but when their firewall first appeared, a few gurus I know recommended against it and suggested ZoneAlarm instead. If your internet and LAN visibility works "sometimes," I think I would disable that firewall for a few days and see if the problem goes away. If it does, you should consider either ZoneAlarm or some other firewall on BOTH machines, not just one. You should know that the ROUTER is connected to the internet, NOT either of the machines! The machines, with their internal IP addresses, see the 'net through the router's NAT capability. However, in spite of the advertised "firewall" (somewhat) capability of the router, I occasionally get warning messages from ZoneAlarm that someone has attempted to access one of my LAN machines. Put some firewall software on EACH of your machines, after you do this "eliminate McAfee" test.....

  3. #3
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    Re: Disappearing network places

    G'morning, Al! Thanks for the advice. I'll try the "disable McAfee" trick and see if that fixes the problem.

    I don't have a separate firewall on my newest computer, but I do on rare occasions get a pop-up message from someone who wants to sell me a firewall. I don't recall the name, but it's not one of the familiar names, such as McAfee, ZoneAlarm, Norton, etc. The fact that it's an ad disguised as a warning makes me suspicious, on one hand, but a little voice tells me that maybe someone really is seeing my computer! I didn't think that was supposed to happen through a router, but s*** happens.

    By the way, my Internet connection has been solid from the beginning--not a single problem, except for an outage during a recent ice storm, and that was totally beyond my control. The problem I'm having appeared again last night after I installed MS-Office. It was too close to bedtime to fool around with it, so I'll try your suggestion this evening.

    By the way, I'll take this opportunity to fire a shot at McAfee. <img src=/S/ranton.gif border=0 alt=ranton width=66 height=37> My older computer shipped with McAfee ViruScan, so that's what I use. In October, I bought the McAfee Firewall and was happy with it. Then in November I switched ISPs, bought a second computer (which came with Norton A/V) and set up the LAN. I forgot to notify McAfee of my new edress till after I'd shut down my old one. To get my virus updates, I finally had to get on the phone to McAfee/Network Associates. (When I tried to log in, the site kept telling me it had no record of me.) We reset the edress and password so I can get the updates. A few days later, I tried to update the Firewall and ran into the same problem. Again I had to call McAfee (and it's NOT a toll-free number!). We got the problem fixed, but I learned that my ViruScan account and my Firewall account are separate--they don't even share the same web site! The interface on-screen gives one the impression that all the pieces of McAfee's "personal security" system are part of one integrated package. But they're not. This experience reinforced the impression I'd developed earlier, i.e., that McAfee makes an effective anti-virus product, but they don't make it user-friendly. Norton AV I find to be enormously easier to use and much more helpful when I need to fix a problem. With McAfee, I have to log in to get the updates; Norton just does it all automatically and lets me know when the job's done.

    There...'nuff said! <img src=/S/rantoff.gif border=0 alt=rantoff width=66 height=37> Thanks for listening!

  4. #4
    Plutonium Lounger
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    Re: Disappearing network places

    I didn't ever pay attention to the fact that McAfee "sells" their firewall product separately. Ever since they started it (can't remember when) it has been INCLUDED with the "regular" antivirus software that one can buy in any store. And I mean to distinguish that from McAfee's ON-LINE virus protection which I know nothing about and would probably not do anyway. Yeah, they are a pain in the tush to get in contact with but then I see stories where people say the same thing about Symantec, so we takes our chances.

    On the other subject within your rant - updates - I assume you must be talking about SOFTWARE updates, not DAT file updates. You're right that for most all software vendors, including McAfee, you have to login to be recognized as a legitimate "maintenance" holder and that can sometimes be a pain. On the other hand, the regular DAT file (signature, etc.) updates from McAfee can be downloaded from several places on the web sites. I use their FTP address weekly to get updates and even that process can be automated. I just don't bother.

  5. #5
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    Re: Disappearing network places

    I don't know that one can buy the McAfee firewall in a box off a store shelf. As you say, you normally find the whole package in a box. In my case, the McAfee ViruScan On-line came prepackaged on a new computer. I later added the firewall by going to their web site.

  6. #6
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    Re: Disappearing network places

    I too used McAfee Firewall. A problem I noticed with it was when it would upgrade itself it would change it's settings. Then one day my wife's computer refused to connect to the internet. (DSL through a Linksys router). I tried everything I knew to get things working. The machine was on the lan but would not access the internet. I finally called tech support. To make a long story shorter I ended up uninstalling the firewall. Disabling it had no effect, I had to uninstall it. The computer then got on line with no more problems. The tech support guy told me I really didn't need a software firewall with the router.

  7. #7
    Plutonium Lounger
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    Re: Disappearing network places

    <hr>...The tech support guy told me I really didn't need a software firewall with the router...<hr>
    That "tech support guy" whoever he is, is full of it. You can obviously believe whomever you want, but do a little checking around the 'net with knowledgeable folks and you'll change your mind.

  8. #8
    Uranium Lounger
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    Re: Disappearing network places

    Man, I am right up there with Big Al. In fact he beat me to the punch...this guy is tech support and he told you WHAT? <img src=/S/yikes.gif border=0 alt=yikes width=15 height=15> I don't want to be too sarcastic but does this guy also park his car full of expensive gifts in a crowded parking lot and leave the doors unlocked....with the keys in the ignition?

    I had a similar problem with ZoneAlarm (more than once I'm afraid) which is why I don't use it. But I didn't go an hour without a different firewall installed, because I'd rather keep my personal information.....personal.
    -Mark

  9. #9
    Super Moderator jscher2000's Avatar
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    Routers and firewalls

    Oh, let's all pile on!

    First, remember that the job of tech support is to keep the customer buying the company's products while adding the least overhead. Telling people they don't need a broken feature anyway is a brilliant move - from that perspective. <img src=/S/laugh.gif border=0 alt=laugh width=15 height=15>

    Second, some routers actually include a firewall application in firmware. If one takes the time to learn it and program it, then McAfee's firewall software (or Symantec's or Trend Micro's) may in fact be redundant, but in most cases a firmware-based firewall either does not exist, is not running, or is not very sophisticated.

    So is tech support lying? Well, not exactly. Broadband routers designed to share an internet connection typically impersonate your network card and run a private network inside. More specifically, the router runs NAT

  10. #10
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    Re: Routers and firewalls

    No piling on necessary or appropriate, Jefferson. You said if all very succinctly!

  11. #11
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    Re: Disappearing network places

    ok. Thank you all for the information. I will now start researching firewall software. McAfee seemed to change my settings each time it upgraded and I didn't care much for that and the last time I think it set itself to block everything on that one machine on the lan. I see zone alarm mentioned, is that good? I have 4 win98-2 and 2 xp computers on our home network with the linksys router and dsl modem. I do use McAfee for virus check.

  12. #12
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    Re: Disappearing network places

    Well thanks to BigAl, Mark, and Jefferson I have been convinced I do in fact need a firewall. And though I've used the McAfee virus products for years, I found thier firewall to be a pain. Expecially when my wife hollored at me constantly about it blocking her net access and email every time it upgraded itself. So I did some intense research on the net and decided on Outpost. I don't know if I'm right about that but you can only read so much before doing something. I just installed it. So far so good. It installed easy and with just a few clicks I taught it to let me on the net and to get my email. I went with the free version until I make up my mind about it. But so far I like it. I haven't tried it on the XP machine yet. So thanks you guys, and if you have any suggestions, tips, information, ect, I'm all ears.

  13. #13
    Uranium Lounger
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    Re: Disappearing network places

    One thing I will note about Outpost, and it may not be relevant anymore - about a year ago, when I was using it regularly, I noticed it has issues with high-speed connections (internet or LAN). Since it was a known issue it may well have been solved by now, but if you're using DSL or cable, keep it in mind. What would happen is that the system would start acting sluggishly while Outpost tried to cope with the large amounts of information going across the Internet connection.

    Outside of that, I recall that it was a pretty decent firewall. I particularly liked the rules that you could set up. These days, I'm using Sygate Personal Firewall Pro and have been very pleased with its stability and unobtrusiveness.

    Good luck!
    -Mark

  14. #14
    Plutonium Lounger
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    Re: Disappearing network places

    And while we're on the subject, I went to take a look at the Outpost web site earlier and they have a BIG comparison chart on one of their pages. I realize that one has to "consider the source," being compiled by the Outpost folks and all, but it makes some interesting reading:

    http://www.agnitum.com/php_scripts/compare.php

  15. #15
    3 Star Lounger
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    Re: Disappearing network places

    I have DSL and I read a previous post from Mark about the slowing of the connection so I watched for that. I didn't notice any change at all in the speed of open pages or dowloading so I think they fixed that issue. I now have it installed on 2 machines without a hitch. The XP laptop will be next. I have tried some of the test and probe sites and so far I get all "stealth" results back. Of course I had the same results before the firewall from just the linksys router.

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