I have a bunch of medical-grade all-in-one workstations in use in a high-demand medical environment that spend their lives plugged in to power and wired networking. The systems came with a 30 minute backup battery and a wifi card for redundancy. The idea was that they'd run on wired net, and if a cable got tripped over or unplugged, the workstation would switch over to wifi, and case documentation could continue. The catch with this plan is that we need to know WHEN that switch-over to wifi happens so we can go remedy the problem with the wires that triggered the switch in the first place. The systems run WinXP (a vendor requirement). We don't run them totally on wifi because it's an electrically noisy environment and wifi not 100% reliable - that, and throughput isn't quite as good over wifi.

Can I get / how can I get these systems to alert me when they switch from wired to wifi networking?


  • the event is logged in the system log so you could look there, and or have a passive solution like splunk etc.. – tony roth Aug 6 '12 at 19:38
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    or if you don't want a central server collecting this info you could go lowend and just have a scheduled task that reads the logs looking for disconnects then sending an email etc... – tony roth Aug 6 '12 at 19:44
  • Just remember - whatever you put in place is going to spam the hell out of you when people shut off their machines at the end of the day. Do you really need this real-time? – mfinni Aug 6 '12 at 19:44
  • guess thats one thing in favor of the lowend method! – tony roth Aug 6 '12 at 20:01

I can think of a few different ideas.

The "built-in" functionality in Windows XP that yoy're looking for is the Network Location Awareness service. Having said that, though, you'll need custom code to take advantage of it, because it's just an API and not a finished "solution".

You could use a "ping probe" tool to poll the wired NIC IP addresses on the client computers and report if they become unavailable. You would probably need to use DHCP reservations or static IP addresses on the clients if your probe utility couldn't handle probing DNS names.

You might have luck monitoring your Ethernet switch ports using a tool like Nagios, Zabbix, a syslog receiver, an SNMP trap receiver, etc, and acting on port "down" events with a script. If you're comfortable with scripting I suspect you could cobble something together fairly easily.

  • We ended up doing a little Network Location Awareness app for each workstation that monitors the interfaces, and if wired is down for a configurable amount of time, it reports it. Thanks for the tip on this API! – bhansley Oct 2 '12 at 18:11
  • Glad I could help. It's neat to hear that somebody actually got something working with that API. I'd heard bad things about the API's reliability. – Evan Anderson Oct 2 '12 at 23:24


A more precise answer will require more detail, because there are several ways to go about it,but from the sounds of things you really need a moniroing system. At a minimum, look into setting up an SNMP server which all your clients can report to and send an alert out over SNMP if the status of their wired connection changes.

You could even do something simpler, like monitor via ping traces and have a script that sets off alarms if it misses [x] pings in a row... but the thought of that being used in a medical enivronment chills my blood. As doe the question, now that I think of it.

If it's that important, shell out the money for an enterprise-grade monitoring suite.

  • We currently run this environment wired-only right now, and that's been good enough for the past 12 years - the system involved is redundant enough that it keeps working if the network disappears for short periods. Users are trained to contact support if they notice no-network symptoms - I'm asking this question because the wifi cards give us the ability keep running, and to notice and fix the problem before the users notice anything amiss. So, is it important enough for a pro monitoring solution? No. Is it a chance for us to improve service to our users, yes. – bhansley Aug 7 '12 at 14:53

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