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Cross-platform networking

Best practice advice needed

     

Chris Beeching

11:43 am on Feb 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

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People will probably shudder at the 'home network' that we have, but here goes. We run the following: G4/OSX, iMac/9.2, PC/W98Me, PC/W98 (three of) and PC/W2000. These are all wirelessly connected to a base station which is wired to an ADSL modem/router, and two print servers running 4 printers. With a large family, and two daughters doing graphic design and graphics the printers (different types and formats) are a necessity.

From time to time (like just at the moment) parts of the network go awol, and not always the same part! The signal strength on the wlan cards is good, but unpredictably and inconsistently, something occasionally goes awry. All are running static IP adresses (it was just simpler that way), with the same subnet mask, and all the other parameters are common. A couple of days ago my son's PC evaporated off the ether(net), only to reappear yesterday, but my wife's PC has now 'gone walkies'. Sometimes print functions (which require a wireless connection) still work, other times they don't. Last night one daughter could get e-mails but not print, and the other daughter was the other way round. Neither could see the other on the network.

I know it's a horribly mixed-bag query, but does anyone have any suggestions on making this network arrangement more reliable? It seems to be OS-independent as far as the fault is concerned, and I have no reason to suspect the hardware (mostly netear and belkin). In hope, Chris Beeching

2:52 pm on Feb 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

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First off, welcome to WebmasterWorld.

That's quite a home network you've got there. I'm assuming you are not a networking pro, so forgive me if any of this advice is too basic:

My first guess would be that you're having IP conflicts -- two machines think they have the same IP address. That may be because a machine is grabbing a dynamic address when it shouldn't be, or two machines are set up with the wrong static IP.

I'd suggest labeling each machine with its IP address, plus keeping a spreadsheet with the IPs of each machine. Also, set up your OS X machine as a web server and have a page that reports the IP address, to be sure the machine is using the IP address you intend.