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I was asked to fix a Windows XP PC whose internal NIC stopped working over night.

The following has already been found out / tried:

  • NIC is not in device manager any more (it shows up however if enabling "show hidden devices")
  • Internal NIC is enabled in BIOS
  • An additional PCI network card was installed but it doesn't show up in device manager as well
  • Moving back to System Restore Point before it stopped working
  • I even did a fresh installation of Windows XP but the card was not detected either (as unknown device, because no drivers have been installed yet)

The only idea I have left is to plug out all PCI devices (there is only a TV card left) - maybe a defect card could influence the internal NIC as well? Other than that - any ideas?

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Since you were willing to do a "fresh install" of WinXP, then maybe you would be willing to try an installation of Win7 or Win8cp? Or use another HDD for this install? For Win7 you can skip the entry of the Product Key for a 30-day free trial. Support for basic peripheral devices is much better than XP, and the driver for the NIC should automatically be installed (assuming it's a common device and not malfunctioning). I recently did something similar for a 2.0GHz Pentium 4 PC w/only 512MB of RAM from 2001. BTW how old is this PC? –  sawdust Apr 23 '12 at 1:53
    
I will try a Linux Live CD as well - but AFAIK a network card at least should show up in device manager as such, even if no appropriate drivers have been found. The PC is also Pentium 4 as far as I remember.. –  Tarnschaf Apr 23 '12 at 13:27
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1 Answer

  1. Disconnect power, just to be safe.

  2. Check for loose contact, broken/blown transistors.

  3. Push some stuff (watch out for static electricity), which might help indicate/solve a loose contact.

  4. Connect power again.

  5. Try to a battery reset of the BIOS to see whether that helps.

  6. Flashing the BIOS might or might not work.

I find it weird though, that an additional PCI card does not work. So their might be something wrong to the PCI part of your motherboard or BIOS, but that really sounds like a weird sudden issue. Try to get your computer booted with a minimal amount of hardware attached to it...

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