International Internet compatibility...??
December 3, 2006 10:56 AM   Subscribe

Cannot get either wireless or DSL internet connection to work in the USA on a Windows XP Dell Inspiron 6000 bought in Virginia but "changed" by an ISP in Bulgaria.

My cousin's wife bought a computer in Virginia and logged on there with DSL or cable. Then she went to Bulgaria for a year, and her Internet Service Provider there, Interbild, "changed" the computer. They installed a program in person, and it took them hours, and it involved using a command-line interface. (Those are all the clues I have about what they might've done.) They said it would still work back in the US. But since returning to the country dial-up, wireless, and DSL have not worked. She can't get either wired or wireless computer access at our house.

As far as I can tell, the computer doesn't see that a LAN line is plugged in. For wireless, our house is configured to only allow certain MAC addresses. We've supposedly added hers, but the wireless connection stalls out on "acquiring network address" (this is where it would stall if we hadn't added her address, but it may be a more fundamental problem, too). For dial-up, as best as I can determine, the program would dial, make screeching noises, no error message would come up, but "[they] still wouldn't have Internet."

Any ideas where we should start?
posted by salvia to Computers & Internet (13 answers total)
Personally, if I had unknown software on my computer affecting the network connection I'd wipe everything and reinstall the OS. The 'nuke from orbit' option is the only one that can give you peace of mind when doing important stuff like ecommerce, online banking, logging into MeFi, etc.

Yeah, that might seem paranoid, and you can probably change a few settings and get it working, but why take the risk and possibly spend longer trying to solve the problem?
posted by malevolent at 11:11 AM on December 3, 2006

Response by poster: Ah, I learned we cannot do that (easily) because we have no Windows XP backup / reinstallation CDs.
posted by salvia at 11:21 AM on December 3, 2006

Response by poster: Also, she just said that they changed her IP address. (I have no idea what I'm doing and whether this means anything, if that isn't already clear.)
posted by salvia at 11:24 AM on December 3, 2006

I don't know your cousin's financial circumstances, but you can buy a copy of XP Home OEM for around $100 from New Egg et al. all day long. Given that malevolent is absolutely right, that's how I'd go.
posted by mojohand at 11:34 AM on December 3, 2006

You should reinstall. I think Dell should be able to send you a repair/reinstall CD. Dell will have the information about your PC by using the Service Tag number that's on a sticker. Call their 800 number and find out.
posted by jjj606 at 11:49 AM on December 3, 2006

If all they changed was her IP address, you should start with your current ISP's support department. They're probably very experienced at fixing people's b0rked internet settings. If that fails, try uninstalling all your network adaptors from the Device Manager. They'll be re-detected and reinstalled with the default configs when you reboot.

If you're going to reinstall XP, you'll most likely need the dell-branded version (some of their proprietary hardware won't work without it); I'd imagine you can obtain restore disks from Dell fairly cheaply. Re-install with your same license key, retrieved with the Magical Jellybean Keyfinder.
posted by bizwank at 11:49 AM on December 3, 2006 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Hmm, thank you, I will consider reinstalling, especially if we can get the CD for free /cheap -- would be good to get the CDs anyway. (But they do have another computer they can use for high-security internet stuff, like banking.)

My latest theory was that they assigned her a static IP address which might explain why it freezes on "acquiring network address," and why that settings screen looked familiar to her, but at least right now, it appears TCP/IP is set up to obtain an IP address automatically....
posted by salvia at 12:03 PM on December 3, 2006

Response by poster: Also, I'm not positive they installed software -- the more I ask about what exactly happened, the more it sounds like they were just changing settings.
posted by salvia at 12:04 PM on December 3, 2006

start - control panel - network connections
pick your wired connection, "Local Area Connection"
right click - properties
scroll to the bottom of the list - TCP/IP
properties again
make sure everything is set to automatic
do the same for your wireless connection
posted by defcom1 at 12:36 PM on December 3, 2006

What defcom said!!!!
posted by k8t at 1:31 PM on December 3, 2006

Response by poster: defcom1 & k8t -- tried that, and it already was.
posted by salvia at 3:04 PM on December 3, 2006

Strongly thirding the suggestion to start from scratch. It may be worth even buying a cheap install disk for peace of mind and security.
posted by allterrainbrain at 5:10 PM on December 3, 2006

some more ideas..
1. Make sure all proxies etc. are turned off in firefox / ie.
2. Turn off all security on your wireless, will it still not connect? (Turn security back on if yes.)
3. Make sure security on your wireless relies on a WPA key, not just MAC filtering, as that is very easily bypassed.
4. Is your Wired connection enabled on the laptop?
5. Do you get anything when you plug the wired connection in ? An ip address? (Go to start - run - type cmd.) In the "dos" window that shows up, type "ipconfig". Do you get any ip data at all? Does it say "Media Disconnected"?
Uhh... running out of ideas, please post back.
posted by defcom1 at 6:27 PM on December 3, 2006

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