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I have 2 Windows XP computers connected on a wireless network via a router. Both machines can see each other's shared folders and on machine 1 I can connect to the Internet without a problem. The connection on the other machine OTOH is so sssllooowww that Firefox (or IE8 for that matter) never manages to load a page ("The connection was reset" after 15 minutes or so).
PC 2 can ping the router and the other machine successfully, and also load the router's setup page.

The software (OS + apps) was reinstalled today, and Firefox did work properly after installation.
Any ideas?

Fixed! Installed an audio(!) driver and everything is peachy again (for the time being). Question can be closed AFAIC.

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You say it "did work properly after [re]installation"... and now it doesn't again? – w3dk Aug 25 '10 at 15:50
Stopped working after a reboot. I mentioned it to indicate that Firefox was properly set up (as was IE8) – stevenvh Aug 25 '10 at 15:58
The previous audio driver was probably generating too much DPCs or Interrupts avoiding those of your network driver to be handled in the needed time. – Tom Wijsman Aug 25 '10 at 16:39
If installing a new audio driver is what worked, post that as an answer and accept it. Help out others in the future. Or @Tom might edit their comment as part of that answer as to why it happened to fix the problem. – random Aug 25 '10 at 17:49

I would unplug all connections to the router and turn it off and unplug it. Then, turn off both XP machines. Plug the router in and then boot XP machine number 1. Go to the setup network wizard and create a network that replaces the existing network. Call the work-group something different than it was named before.

Then boot XP machine number 2, and go through the same network setup wizard. Name the work-group the same. Reboot both XP machines and see what happens.

What you might find is that some config was messed up and doing a fresh configuration may help this.

PS - At some point early one, perhaps before configuring the network for the two XP machines, plug one directly into the router and be sure it is configured correctly, i.e., IP range set ( through 100, for example, DHCP enabled, etc).

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Thanks for the suggestions, but not necessary, as you can read in the edit of the original question. – stevenvh Aug 25 '10 at 16:29

I'm afraid this will be another "not an answer". I don't know how else to approach this other than by trying to narrow down the scope of the problem via trial and error.

The first thing I suggest you do is determine whether the problem is related to your wireless connection or not. Turn off wireless on the PC experiencing problems and connect it via wired ethernet. Then use it long enough to determine whether the problem is still there.

If the problem goes away then I think that would suggest a problem with your wireless connection. If the problem persists when using a wired connection to the router, then I would guess ... and it's only a WAG ... that you have some sort of malware installed on that system.

When you "reinstalled" the software, did you do an XP repair install or did you format the partition and do a "clean" XP install?

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up vote 1 down vote accepted

Fixed! Installed an audio(!) driver and everything is peachy again.

the driver was the SIGMATEL driver which you can download from the audio section in the XPS M1710 downloads on the Dell support page. Filename is R171789.exe. Note that I'm not quite sure that the lacking driver was the culprit, but the installation was the only change I made.

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Thank you for writing it as answer. Out of curiosity, can you add which driver it was? You never know, someone could have use for it later. – Gnoupi Aug 26 '10 at 5:23

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