Thursday, May 13, 2010

Compaq CQ60-420US Laptop Ethernet Connection Problem

I was having problems going online with my Compaq CQ60-420US laptop.  The wireless connection worked, but for some reason the wired connection didn’t, even when I connected it using a cable that was working fine for another computer.  This problem was occurring in both Microsoft Vista and Ubuntu (both 9.10 and 10.04) on this dual-boot machine.  I had spent a lot of time on the phone with HP tech support, and had even shipped the computer back to Texas for a motherboard replacement.  Maybe they didn’t replace the motherboard, or maybe they replaced it with another defective one; but in any event, it still wasn’t working.  For example, if I tried going to a website in Internet Explorer 8, it would say, “Internet Explorer cannot display the webpage,” and if I tried in Google Chrome, it would say, “This webpage is not available.”

In Vista (classic view), I went to Start > Settings > Network Connections.  With wireless disconnected, I right-clicked on Local Area Connection (Realtek PCIe FE Family Controller) > Diagnose.  Windows Network Diagnostics said,

Windows did not find any problems with this computer’s network connection.
I tried the option that said, “Reset the network adapter ‘Local Area Connection.’”  After a minute, it said, “The problem has been resolved.”  Yet I was still getting the “cannot display” error in Internet Explorer.  Clicking on the “Diagnose Connection Problems” button in Internet Explorer produced the Windows Network Diagnostics “Identifying the problem” message, followed by “Cannot communicate with” the webpage I had been trying to reach. It again offered me the option of resetting the network adapter, but I declined.

Microsoft offered a “Fix it for me” option, but of course I was not able to connect to that webpage on the laptop.  When I looked into that option on another computer, it said that it was intended to fix problems with Internet Explorer itself (e.g., freezes or crashes).  This was not just an Internet Explorer problem.  Choosing the “Let me fix it myself” option, then, I had already gone through methods 1 (try viewing another webpage), 2 (Network Diagnostics tool), and 3 (reset modem or router), and I did not bother trying methods 4 (delete browsing history) and 5 (use Internet Explorer no add-ons mode).  Advanced Troubleshooting Method 1 called for temporarily disabling the Internet security suite or firewall.  I had tried that, but not recently, so I tried it again.  In Control Panel, I went to Windows Security Center and turned off the firewall.  That did not help, so I turned off Windows Defender.  Still no solution.  In the system tray (at the bottom right corner of the screen, I moused over the various icons until I found the one that said, “Computer status – Protected.”  I right-clicked on that, and that opened Microsoft Security Essentials.  I went to its Settings tab and turned off Real-time protection > Save Changes.  Still no joy in either Internet Explorer or Chrome.  Just to be sure, I killed and restarted Internet Explorer and Chrome and tried again, but still no connection.  In Internet Explorer, I went into Tools > Internet Options > Security, unchecked Enable Protected Mode, restarted Internet Explorer, and tried again; but no.  This didn’t seem to be the solution, so I went on to Advanced Troubleshooting Method 2:  check whether Windows assigned you an automatic IP address.  To do this, Microsoft told me to go to Internet Explorer > Diagnose Connection Problems and click on IP Address, but I didn’t see an option like that.  Instead, I clicked on the Reset Network Adapter option again.  This time, the Windows Network Diagnostics dialog said something a little different:
Windows tried a repair but a problem still exists.
Cannot communicate with (
As advised on a couple of other websites, in Start > Run > CMD, I typed these commands:
ipconfig /release
ipconfig /renew
I wasn’t sure how to read the output, so I went back to the Microsoft advice.  I now saw that Advanced Method 2 didn’t apply, since it was just trying to see whether I had a problem related to my Internet Service Provider (ISP).  I didn’t, since the computer on which I was doing this typing was connected to the same line, and it was working just fine.  So:  on to Advanced Method 3:  test Internet Explorer by using a safe mode startup option that enables networking.  To do this, I went to Start > Search for files or folders > msconfig.exe.  The one I wanted was under C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu.  I double-clicked on it and went to Boot tab, clicked Safe boot and Network > Apply.  Then Start > Shut down > Restart.  In Safe Mode, I opened Internet Explorer.  It still could not connect.  The Microsoft advice told me, in that case, to skip to Advanced Method 6:  Start > Run > devmgmt.msc > Network Adapters.  There were no exclamation marks.  Microsoft said, in that case, I should go to Advanced Method 7:  run System Restore.  But this, they said, would make sense only if the problem was a recent one, and in this case it wasn’t.  Advanced Methods 8 and 9 were oriented toward fixing problems with Internet Explorer but, again, it was a Chrome problem too.  I tried to go back to msconfig.exe via Search, but it didn’t find it, so I used Start > Run > CMD and then typed msconfig.exe at the prompt.  I went back to the msconfig.exe Boot tab and unclicked Safe Boot.  I restarted back into Vista and verified that the problem was still there.  I re-enabled my various security programs and settings, and pondered the situation.

It seemed I had a recurrent hardware problem that HP was not going to fix for me.  I noticed that had a number of devices that would plug into a USB port to give me an ethernet connection.  I got one that, according to its sole review, was good only for 32-bit operating systems, which is what I had on the laptop.  It cost me less than $7.  If the problem was just with the motherboard, this would hopefully get around it.  Unfortunately, that one failed.  I did not actually succeed in resolving this problem within the existing situation.  Instead, I moved to a different apartment, and for some reason that solved the problem.