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#1010225 - Wed Sep 11 2013 08:49 PM Failed NIC card? (Windows XP & Ubuntu)
gracious1 Offline
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Registered: Tue May 01 2012
Posts: 1037
Loc: New York USA
This is really long, but if anyone is kind enough to help, I hope you'll read it all through. Expertise in Windows and possibly Ubuntu Linux would be useful!

We had a POWERFUL electrical storm here today. In fact, the lightning struck right across the inlet - I saw and heard a simultaneous bolt of lightning and crack of thunder.

Although I unplugged most of my devices, it looks like I forgot to unplug the modem. When I tried to get on the Internet tonight, I discovered my NetGear DSL modem was dead. Would not power on. Kaput. I had an older modem, luckily and I was able to use that, although at first my Internet access was going in and out. (I have reported the problem -- the Phone Company is aware that the Internet becomes unreliable when it rains).

I had unplugged my very, very old Windows/Linux box before the storm, but when I plugged it back in, it wouldn't reboot. I tried unplugging and turning it on a few times, and then finally it rebooted. (However, I did not unplug its Ethernet connection to my router -- didn't think of that.)

My Linux partition I didn't try because an Ubuntu upgrade failed, and a friend was supposed to send me the CD for the latest Ubuntu but he never did. I did get the Windows partition to load, but then I discovered something bizarre.

Windows cannot see my network interface card. It's as if I have no adapter at all. At least I think that's what is happening when I could not get on the Internet. I plugged the Ethernet cable into my MacBook Pro, and I was able to connect to the Internet. So the problem is in the Windows box.

A network tech at the Phone Company suggested I do Run -> ncpa.pcl . I am not familiar with that particular command, but apparently it didn't work, because in the window it opened there was supposed to be the name of my NIC or something like that, and nothing was in the window at all. So he said that my NIC has failed.

Is it possible that lightning strikes fried my modem and my network interface card?? But then when I look at Device Manager I see something that appears to be my card, but it won't let me uninstall and reinstall the device.
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#1010227 - Wed Sep 11 2013 08:54 PM Re: Failed NIC card? (Windows XP & Ubuntu) [Re: gracious1]
gracious1 Offline
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Registered: Tue May 01 2012
Posts: 1037
Loc: New York USA
I should add that there was a frustrating lack of Internet at my house for almost a fortnight b/c of problems with my phone line (I use DSL), and then this happened tonight, just when it looked like the phone problem was fixed!

Also another bizarreness... I tried moving the card into each of the two free PCI slots on the motherboard (remember, it's an older computer). When I did that, the machine would reboot (BIOS memory test ok, etc.) , but when it got to the part where it asks me whether I want to load Windows or Ubuntu -- I believe it's the GRUB boot loader and manager from Ubuntu -- it locked up. So Ubuntu GRUB didn't like when I moved the NIC to a different PCI slot? If I replaced the NIC in its former slot, or I remove it altogether, the GRUB worked. (Again, though, I haven't tried Ubuntu b/c the upgrade got messed up and I need to do a clean install.)

This is why I said both Linux and Windows experience might help, but even just Windows expertise would be useful. Any help anyone could offer would be appreciated!
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#1010257 - Thu Sep 12 2013 04:14 AM Re: Failed NIC card? (Windows XP & Ubuntu) [Re: gracious1]
WesleyCrusher Offline

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Registered: Thu Sep 04 2008
Posts: 4662
Loc: Germany
Most likely your NIC is indeed fried (and you can probably count yourself lucky that the computer as such is still working). From your description, the lightning caused an overvoltage in the phone line which then spread through the modem to everything connected to it (which is the network card). Possibly the particular PCI slot the NIC is in has also been damaged - if the card is preventing a system boot in any other slot, it would indicate that there is some hardware damage on the card which only doesn't affect the system from its original slot because that slot isn't fully functioning any more either.

To protect your system, don't experiment with the card any more - get a new one from your nearest PC dealer (cheap NICs should be available for something like $10) and install it in a different slot than the original one. Don't try using the NIC's original PCI slot - there may be some damage / short-circuit on it and it could damage more cards or your mainboard.

Sorry for not having better news, but lightning damage is unfortunately often very serious. Since the voltages involved are so high (millions of volts), damage from a lightning strike can easily jump through several devices before resistance is high enough to reduce it to the few volts modern electronics can tolerate.
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#1010258 - Thu Sep 12 2013 04:34 AM Re: Failed NIC card? (Windows XP & Ubuntu) [Re: gracious1]
sue943 Offline
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Registered: Sun Dec 19 1999
Posts: 36732
Loc: Jersey
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I fried a modem once so now use surge protectors.
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#1010259 - Thu Sep 12 2013 04:50 AM Re: Failed NIC card? (Windows XP & Ubuntu) [Re: gracious1]
WesleyCrusher Offline

Administrator

Registered: Thu Sep 04 2008
Posts: 4662
Loc: Germany
Unfortunately a standard mains surge protector won't help if the lightning strike comes in through the phone line... only hard unplugging of your phone cable (and TV antenna!) helps if you have to fear a close strike.


Edited by WesleyCrusher (Thu Sep 12 2013 04:51 AM)
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#1010532 - Fri Sep 13 2013 06:48 PM Re: Failed NIC card? (Windows XP & Ubuntu) [Re: gracious1]
mehaul Offline
Forum Champion

Registered: Wed Feb 03 2010
Posts: 6427
Loc: Florida USA
Many surge protectors in the USA now come with Phone line surge clippers/limiters/protectors. A new USB modem might fix your troubles. Question: How'd you get here to post your query?
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#1010559 - Fri Sep 13 2013 10:32 PM Re: Failed NIC card? (Windows XP & Ubuntu) [Re: gracious1]
gracious1 Offline
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Registered: Tue May 01 2012
Posts: 1037
Loc: New York USA
My Internet access was restored (though it is still intermittent when it rains heavily) by the Phone Company. Also, it was only my desktop that was fried b/c it has a wired (Ethernet) connection to the router. My laptop uses wi-fi, so it was okay.

HOWEVER, I will add that I also have an old PowerMac G4 that is also on the hub that is connected by Ethernet to the router, and it is just fine. So the modem and the Windows/Linux box were fried, but the Mac survived without a scratch! In fact, it runs just as fast and trouble-free as it did the day I got it. Too bad it can't run the latest browsers -- otherwise, it would be perfect. (It is very limited for going online. I can use it at FT, however!)

Back to the Windows/Linux box. I did get a new NIC for about $10, and now I can get the old gal online, although sometimes she does other things (like fail to complete booting up). So I lugged the machine to the Computer Man, and I found out that we have more problems than just the NIC, and it would cost me $100 to have him fix up the computer properly. That sounds reasonable, but she's so old she won't support any OS beyond Windows XP or Ubuntu 10, so I'm not sure I want to put any money in the old gal at all. I mean it works right now, but it's on borrowed time. I think the hard drive is failing, too. Too bad, I don't really have the means to get something new right now, so perhaps I will just live with it until I am able to purchase something new (or acquire something less old.)

My new policy now is to unplug the phone line from the jack when it storms. They say you shouldn't use the phone during a thunderstorm anyway.


Edited by gracious1 (Fri Sep 13 2013 11:23 PM)
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