Network card Diagnostics

by Johannes Helmig [Published on 6 Feb. 1999 / Last Updated on 6 Feb. 1999]

Network installations can be fun, but often they are painful:
The "@#$##!!#@"(censored) Network does NOT work !

In such cases, it is always advisable to run a diagnostics on the Network cards, especially if you got the cards as used equipment.
And I can tell you from my experience: network card are sensitive !
For example: watch out in office environments with carpets, walking on some carpet can create static electricity, which discharges as small sparks, when you touch a door. Such discharges can damage the electronics on a network card.

How to run diagnostics:

A NIC (Network Interface Card) is usually delivered with a Setup/Driver floppy disk:

Look for EXE-files: SETUP.EXE, SOFTSET.EXE or (like above): PCIDIAG.EXE. Most of these SETUP-programs have also a diagnostics build-in.

all these setup/diagnostic programs are DOS-programs.

Most of them will NOT work properly inside a Windows95/98 "MS-DOS Prompt" Window, you need to select "Shutdown":

to "restart the computer in MS-DOS mode" (or reboot to the MS-DOS mode).

On a Windows NT system, you will require a DOS-BOOT floppy to reboot the system from floppy with DOS, then to run the setup/diagnostic program (because these programs need to address directly (via i/o-addressing) the network card, but this is allowed by Windows NT as a security violation: only the NT operating system via its device drivers is allowed to communicate directly with hardware devices).

Example: 3COM EtherLink III 3C509B: 3C5X9CFG.EXE

Search the menu for : "Test" or "Diagnostics", select it:

Run the tests, if any of them fails, you network board maybe bad and should be replaced.

Example: RealTek 8029: RSET8029..EXE

This program allows to run a diagnostics only on the board, just testing the electronics for proper reply:

But there is on this diagnostic program also the possibility to make a test-transmission between 2 boards over the network:

But for that, you need 2 Systems with the SAME network card, so that one can be defined as the Initiator (creating a signal, sending it out onto the network) and one as the Responder (listening to the network for an incoming test signal).

See Also

The Author — Johannes Helmig

Dr.Johannes Helmig is working as Director, Technical Knowledge Management in the Belgium office of Gerber Technology where he is involved in Customer Service and internal training, with special interest in Networking.


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