Q

How do I resolve a conflict between TCP/IP and IPX?

I have a difficult problem I have been trying to solve for a long time. I have tried searching the Microsoft site, Microsoft Technet, the entire Web and every other source I could think of, all to no avail. On Windows 9x and NT 4 systems I have a problem connecting to the network with TCP/IP. When using IPX everything works fine. When I remove IPX and only have TCP/IP, I cannot connect to any of the hundreds of other computers on the...

network. To further complicate the problem, it is not consistent across all machines at all times. Some systems install TCP/IP services and connect with no problem, but others don't. It's the same hardware (NIC, MB, etc.), connected to the same network switches, the same IP domain and the same NT domain.

Interestingly enough, this problem may show up after a system has been working fine for a period of time. Other machines may not work initially but sometimes start working at a later date.

Even though the computer does not "see" any other computers on the network, it will still be able to browse the Web, so this appears to be a problem with local connectivity only. I have tried various tricks with WINS and DNS, LMHOST(S), etc., all to no avail.

Another interesting behavior that may provide a clue is that with Win98se, if I have both IPX and TCP/IP installed, and the TCP/IP stack is not working properly, when I try to connect to certain servers using Network Neighborhood or a DOS Net Use command, the system still hangs, waiting for a connection that never takes place. The only option is to use a three-fingered salute (CTRL-ALT-DEL) to bring up the Close Program window where I can then end the non-responding program. Removing TCP/IP from the protocol list eliminates that problem from Win98.

This has been an ongoing problem for years, but since we have both IPX and TCP/IP protocols, it has been possible to work around the problem most of the time. However, when I have an IP only application is this a major problem, and that is happening more frequently now. From talking to others in the field I understand that this is not an isolated problem, but no one has come up with a good solution. I certainly hope that you expert is willing to tackle this and find the answer, or at the very least point me in the right direction for solving it on my own.


The minute I heard "IPX", I sensed that the very presence of the protocol may be causing a lot of problems. There has been a big push to phase out IPX completely over time and replace with TCP/IP -- partly because Microsoft does not support it any more and partly because its presence creates complications like the ones you are describing.

I would start by making a concerted effort to completely remove IPX from all your machines. I know this is probably not the answer you were hoping to hear, but I cannot foresee these problems being cleared up until this first step is taken. I know that a lot of people prefer IPX for local network routing, but the advantages that IPX had over TCP/IP in the past are no longer as significant. The presence of IPX is such a complication in situations like this that it is next to impossible to know what to fix without first removing it.
This was first published in May 2002
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