Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The ghost in my LAN

I have had a local area network set up for my computers probably running for 15 years or more. There was one computer acting as a file and print server, and a separate NAS drive. Other computers came and went running Windows XP, Vista & Windows 7. The servers changed a couple of times and everything was easy enough to set up and/or upgrade.

Well all that happiness, was until the computer acting as the server was upgrade from Window 7 to Windows 10 (not a pleasant upgrade in itself). To begin it was just the printers which seemed to disappear from the shared status, then they be back but not on all computers. It was frustration overload. Leaving the server running helped but I got convinced the printer drop out was a random event. Interwoven with this flaky behaviour some of the shared network drive disappeared, never to return. I had to re-share the directories involved (mainly on an external drive attached to the server.)

 Having had enough of the printer mystery I purchased a WiFi enabled printer (to avoid having to have it attached to any computer acting to a server). Worked beautifully (for the printing).

A few days later I retired the problematic computer that used to be my server. Suddenly half of the computers on the network could no longer see the shared drives. ….. Arrrrrrgh!!!

Seems I’m not the only one this is happening to and it has become just after some windows 10 updates., and is being described as a “ghost” setting in the network. Unfortunately Microsoft seem pretty determined to not get involve so there is no official fix.

The following approach has worked for me (so far). First make sure all the computers are on the same WORKGROUP. (Some, which had been returned for repair had weird names, and a couple of directories with weird ownerships and sharing). Next disconnect all the network connections and unshare everything on the computers that are doing the sharing (this required a lot of detective work). Finally leave any home group you have set up on ALL computers. Now turn all the computers off...and take a deep breath.

Then start just one computer and create a new home group. It will display a Homegroup password, which you should write down because you need to enter it on all the computers attached to the network (the print password just gave me an error message that it can not print the password, really useful) Re-starting one at a time, you should find an invitation to join the new work group under the network Home group settings. Accept the invitation nominate what you will share and you will be asked for the Homegroup password. After a short wait you should be able to see other computers in your homegroup. Then go through the remaining computers (one at a time) and connect to the home group. Once the home group is up and running on all computers, you can re-share some specific directories and connect as network drive to each computers. It’s a lot of possibly unnecessary work. Hopefully the ghost has gone.
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