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Windows 7: Random PC's cannot see random other PC's on network

22 May 2017   #1

Windows 7 Pro x64
Random PC's cannot see random other PC's on network


First try at posting a question.
Let me begin by saying that I am not an IT professional even though I have found myself being exactly that for the small company I work for. Iím just a computer geek that knew how to build custom PCís (originally just for myself) and knew more about the functioning of computers than anybody else in the office. Now I find myself responsible for a network of 8 computers (soon to be 10), which on a whole I seem to be able to manage fairly well. Having said that, there is one stubborn, on-going issue that I just cannot figure out, and hopefully someone can enlighten me on the cause.

First let me describe briefly the setup:
- 8 custom built PCís (various brand components)
- 6 Windows 7 Pro x64
- 1 Windows 7 Home x64
- 1 Windows 10 Pro x64
- Netgear ProSafe 24-Port Gigabit Switch (JGS524E)
- ASUS Dual-Band Wireless-AC1900 Gigabit Router (RT-AC68U)
- Fairpoint (local phone co.) Fiber Internet
- All 8 PC's on work network with same name
- All 8 PCís wired to Netgear switch with fixed IPís (192.168.1.XX)
- All 8 PCís running basic version of AVG or Avast
- All 8 PCís running Windows Firewall

The basic issue I am having with the network is that random computers cannot see random other PCís on the network. There is seemingly no decipherable pattern to this, but it is constantly occurring in some configuration. The funny thing is that if I try viewing the network PC's by clicking on "Network" in the start menu, this problem occurs. However, if I try viewing the network through right clicking on network icon on bottom right of taskbar, open Network & Sharing Center, & click on "See Full Map", I can see all of computers. But, the PC's I could not see through the "Network" start menu link, I cannot access by clicking on them.

I have tried countless tweaks I have researched on the web, but no success. Regretfully, since I am not a trained IT pro, the depth of my understanding of the inner workings of a network limits my ability to problem-solve.

I have done many of the basic checks such as:
- Reboot all PCís
- Restart switch & router
- Ensure all PCís have same workgroup name
- Ensure all PCís have unique fixed IP address
- Ensure all PCís have same default gateway & subnet mask
- Ensure all PCís have network discovery turned on
- Ensure all PCís have file and print sharing turned on
- Ensure all PCís have password protected sharing turned off
- tried unchecking IPv6 in adapter properties
- Too many more to list

The latest idea Iíve been working on is the DNS settings. Our internet provider gave me specific DNS servers to reference which I entered in each computer, but I read that perhaps Iím supposed to point to the router on each PC and only enter that info in the router admin. As I said, Iím way beyond my pay grade at this point, so Iím sort of poking in the dark for solutions.

Any ideas?

More than happy to provide any further info as neededÖjust didnít want to get too long winded on original post.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
23 May 2017   #2

win 8 32 bit

Welcome to the forum. Local network doesn't use DNS it uses NetBIOS which should be running on all PC's. What it does when you look for PC's Windows doesn't look it asks the Master browser for a list of that is out of date you won't get a full list major upgrades can throw it off. Stopping and starting browser service can often bring it back. You need to know which is Master browser
My System SpecsSystem Spec
23 May 2017   #3

Windows 7 Pro x64

Thank you so much for your reply samuria.

I remember playing around with the Master Browser at some point, but it did not fix issue. However, I will try again to stop & start the browser service and report back.

My System SpecsSystem Spec

23 May 2017   #4

win 8 32 bit

Try running on all PC's htp:// it show mb
My System SpecsSystem Spec
27 May 2017   #5

Windows 7 Pro x64

Hi Samuria,

Sorry for the delay in getting back to you. I used the nirsoft utitlity to find the master browser & restarted the browser service. I wasn't sure if I had to restart the browser service just on the master browser machine or all PC's on network, so I did all. For future reference, do I need to restart the service on all machines or just the master browser PC?

The restarting seemed to do the trick, but I know I went through this process once before. At this point, all PC's can see each other, so I won't worry too much. However, in preparation for the future, what causes the browser service to get all messed-up? Is there a way to prevent from happening again?

I did find that the retail store portion of our business used our office network to hook-up their point-of-sale system to the internet. They are not in our workgroup, but that machine does show-up on the master browser scan & is listed as a master browser as well. Could that be a problem?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
19 Dec 2017   #6

windows 7 home x32 x64

hi there. Just came across this thread. have you figured out the problem? I'm in the same boat and same situation for years at my work: pc hobbyist having to become network IT guru for small business.

I've seen the computers disappear and reappear on our network and think it pertains to a master browser list. The computer that is always on in our small net and holds the browser list will just spontaneously lose the list and all the other computers start disappearing from network view. Once I go and hard reboot another computer that causes a "re-election" of the master browser list and another computer will hold it for several days but then lose it again.

Just wondering what your solution was. I have networking
My System SpecsSystem Spec
19 Dec 2017   #7

Windows 7 Pro x64

Hi Westwood339,

Right at this moment, it seems that I have solved the issue, but as soon as those words come out of my mouth, the network starts acting-up again. I've tried a myriad of supposed solutions with no avail. However, in the last couple months, I've started honing down the problem and trying to simplify the variables in order to find the solution. Since I'm not technically a true IT professional, some of my steps may be silly or unwarranted, but it was my way to get to the bottom of this problem. Unfortunately, I'm not sure which step did the trick since I've tried so many (again, I'm not even sure if my problem is solved for good.....still waiting).

Here are the last three steps I took:
1) Using the nirsoft netbios scanner listed earlier by samuria, I began to turn off the Computer Browser service on all the PC's who were Master Browser during a time of missing computers. I wanted to remove any possibilities of computer specific issues.
2) Since I've assigned static IP's to all the network PCs, I enabled NetBios Over TCP on all computers.
See this link:
3) Lastly, on the computer I manually chose to be the Master Browser, I set the IsDomainMaster parameter in the registry to 'true'. You may have to create it altogether.

For the last two weeks, I've had no drops of computers from the Network. Still too soon to jump up and cheer, but I'm starting to be hopeful....which may jinx me. I will update this post in a couple months if I'm still error free.

Hope that helps.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
23 May 2018   #8

Windows 7 Pro x64
Still Having Issue

After all that, the problem still persists. Arghhh!
My System SpecsSystem Spec
25 May 2018   #9

Linux Mint 18.2 xfce 64-bit (VMWare host) / Windows 8.1 Pro 32-bit (VMWare guest)

May I suggest that the individual PCs don't need to see each other. It would be better if you had one additional computer which was considered the "server", and put some big hard drives in that machine; then make sure that all machines can access that one computer, and make sure that all computers can access the hard drives of that computer. This keeps things a whole lot simpler than having data spread all around. Same thing for printers. The best option is straight-up networked printers (either wifi or Ethernet), none connected to any machine, but rather all connected directly to the network. But if you have a non-networkable printer, you could connect it to the "server" and share it off of there.

So far, this is a good, basic setup. But if you want to get a little more control over the situation, you could create a set of user folders on the server, and make each one of them shareable. Then on each machine, map a drive to the folder that that person uses. You could pick a drive letter, say U:, and then on each computer map U: to the user folder for the user of that computer. This wouldn't be a "secure" system, but it would at least organize everything, keeping everyone's data separate from everyone else's data. You could also have "content" folders, in which all of the documents related to different things are stored in those folders. For example, tax-related documents might be kept in a folder, and everyone needing access to that folder could have T: mapped to it on their computer. Purchases might be the P: drive. You would have to decide how to organize everything.

When it's time to do backups, you simply backup the server's hard drives, and all critical data would be backed up.

You yourself could access each computer's hard drive, if you want to be able to back up an individual hard drive or do remote maintenance of some sort.

If you want to make things more secure than that, it could get complicated. But the system I have described above is pretty simple to set up and maintain.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 Random PC's cannot see random other PC's on network

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