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I'm getting intermittent problems apparently with my TCP/IP stack. The wifi adapter either fails to connect to the router (despite excellent signal strength, and no problems from other devices), or connects but then just randomly drops out. Sometimes no networks appear at all for one refresh. There are messages in the system log, like:

The system detected that network adapter \DEVICE\TCPIP_{225F0D1B-1687-46B0-8E9A-10743BE8CF03} 
was disconnected from the network, and the adapter's network configuration has been
released. If the network adapter was not disconnected, this may indicate that it has 
malfunctioned. 

and

The browser has forced an election on network \Device\NetBT_Tcpip_{225F0D1B-1687-46B0-8E9A-10743BE8CF03} 
because a master browser was stopped.

and (much less frequently)

The IP address lease 192.168.1.6 for the Network Card with network address 000F11141221 has been denied by the DHCP server 192.168.1.1 (The DHCP Server sent a DHCPNACK message).

xpnetdiag reports:

info: Error attmpting to validate the Winsock base providers: 2 
error: Not all base service provider entries could be found in 
the winsock catalog. A reset is needed. 

netsh gives this error:

The following helper DLL cannot be loaded: A109A-K13-3ZXD-BAP5-TE.

I've poked around a bit with the trust vb_winfix and that netsh int reset command, without knowing much about either. Maybe that fixes the problem for a bit, then it comes back. At best I'm getting a couple of minutes of connection to either the router or to my phone. Total uptime maybe 2%.

One symptom I just noticed now was that after web requests stopped responding, I was able to still able to ping the local gateway (in this case, my phone) for a minute or so, until that, too, started timing out.

A problem in the past, possibly related, was failures in completing a DHCP negotiation. That was using ethernet, though.

After leaving the machine off overnight, it's connected solidly this morning - hence my ability to post. :)

So, it seems like the cause is likely either the wifi dongle itself, or some software problem with the TCP/IP stack. Any suggestions what to look at next? Tools to use?

The PC is roughly 5 years old, XP Pro.

share|improve this question
    
The wifi dongle is this: Realtek RTL8191SU Wireless LAN 802.11n USB 2.0 Network Adapter –  Steve Bennett Feb 14 '12 at 22:26
    
Did you reset the winsock catalog as suggested? –  Moab Feb 15 '12 at 3:51
    
if "reset the winsock catalog" means "netsh init reset" then yes. Otherwise...what is it? –  Steve Bennett Feb 16 '12 at 1:29
    
"netsh winsock reset" Restores the Winsock Catalog to a clean state and uninstalls all Winsock Layered Service Providers. –  Moab Feb 16 '12 at 2:55
    
Sigh. Looks like in the end, the cause was a faulty USB extension cable. Replaced the cable in desperation and problem goes away! –  Steve Bennett Feb 20 '12 at 0:17
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