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I run a small computer lab of 10 computers and occasionally, when using the network explorer (a.k.a Network Browser) some or all of the remote computers will fail to appear. If I try to access a remote computer by its name I get an unspecified error (code 0x80004005), but I am still able to access it with the computer's IP address. The strangest part is that the problem will inexplicably go away after waiting awhile.

Each computer is running Windows 7 x64 Enterprise and has identical hardware, software and configuration. They are all on the same subnet and in the same workgroup.

I've spent days researching the problem and have tried the following solutions:

  1. Updated the BIOS, chipset and network adapter drivers
  2. Changed Power Settings in Network Adapter Properties so that the computer will not turn it off
  3. Disabled the Computer Browser service
  4. Changed the DHCP node type to broadcast
  5. Reviewed the Event Viewer logs

Steps 3 and 4 have seemed to help the problem a little bit, but not completely.

I'm beginning to suspect that the problem might lie with our router which is a ZyXEL ZyWALL 2WG, as the packets sent by Network Discovery may not be returning in time, but I wanted to get some perspective in the issue before I went any further.

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2 Answers

Let me break down your steps so far:

  1. Not relevant to the problem

  2. Not relevant to the problem.

  3. Definitely going to cause the problem... not fix it. The Computer Browser service is one of the services that DOES facilitate browsing the network.

  4. Not relevant to the problem. The DHCP node type determines how hosts resolve NetBIOS names but isn't relevant to browsing the network.

  5. The Event logs, while always a good place to look for clues, probably isn't relevant to the problem. The ability to see or be seen on the network isn't an event that would be logged in the Event logs. What you might see in the Event logs though is if one of the components responsible for Network Discovery is having a problem.

Your problem most probably lies with Network Discovery which falls under the Function Discovery platform. Have a read at the following and see if it points you in the right direction:

http://windows.microsoft.com/is-IS/windows7/What-is-network-discovery

http://blogs.technet.com/b/networking/archive/2010/12/06/disabling-network-discovery-network-resources.aspx

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/gg252567(v=ws.10)

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Unfortunately, these resources don't tell me anything about Network Discovery that I didn't already know. Network Discovery is turned on, but beyond that, I'm unable to troubleshoot the problem. Any other ideas? –  graf_ignotiev Sep 5 '12 at 22:00
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up vote 1 down vote accepted

After asking around, I was turned onto a network scanning tool that gave me a better idea of what was happening on our network. My scans showed that only our clients were dropping off the network all together and not just off of the network browser (something I'd missed in step 1). Further the scan showed that only wireless clients were dropping off. All our wireless clients share identical hardware and software specs, so I still couldn't make any conclusions as to what was causing the issue. However, I swapped out the wireless access point with another one of a different make and model and the problem has disappeared.

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