A Tale of two computers

  Sir Radfordin™ 12:16 13 Jun 2003

Thought I'd share some of the experience of setting up two new computers for a charity.

Looked around and decided the best option was Mesh. Rang them up, placed the order (for less than the list price) and confirmed. Delivered as told yesterday.

Mesh provide a sheet that looks like a build list, unhelpfully the two PC's were showing they had only half the purchased RAM fitted. Quickly checked inside to find the correct amount fitted. POST also showed correct amount.

Started to set them up (both XP Pro) which was nice and easy. Had to ring M$ to activate as they didn't have modems which was time consuming but not a problem.

First problem - needed a select agreement licence code, rang the number given to be told by M$ that their systems had been down all day and they couldn't help. Not a good start.

Second problem - the business has BT Openworld ADSL Business 500. Unfortunatly the person who had made a note of the username/password had got it wrong. Quick call to the Support line (answered very quickly) to be told they couldn't help unless I could give the security information. Remember this is a business, its a business BT line, its Business ADSL. The security information was the mothers maiden name of the person who had set the account up. Without this piece of information BT couldn't help. Thankfully we were able to find it out, but to me it doesn't seem the best piece of information from a business aspect.

Third Problem - the network.

You would have thought with XP Pro setting up a network would be simple. In theory it is, but for some reason I couldn't get it to work. One of the PC's had ZoneAlarm running so I shut that down, but it still didn't cure the network problem. Spent 3 hours (ish) trying everything I know from DHCP to Fixed IP, to network wizard to different workgroups. Eventually decided to uninstall ZoneAlarm - it hadn't been running anyway. Once uninstalled, surprise surprise the network was fine.

7 hours late, two new PC's were up and running, all the correct software installed and tested. Old hardware (printers/scanners) not a problem. Never has one bit of software (ZA) caused so many problems.

So for those of you who don't think you know very much struggle, just remember even those of us who should know what we are doing can get things wrong!

Least stressful part was buying the PC's from Mesh. Ah well, some of us just get lucky!

  MichelleC 14:42 13 Jun 2003

Nice one, Sir Radfordin?. Building, installing and networking 2 pc's in 7 hours is good work.

  Murray 15:07 13 Jun 2003

And I thought buying direct from big name like that would make things easy... such is the nature of computers I suppose.

Good point about ZA causing problems, will make a mental note.

  spuds 21:17 13 Jun 2003

Great bit of information about ZoneAlarm Sir Rad. I have had problems this week with BT/Freeserve, and a major breakdown in communications.We all thought that there might have been a firewall problem, but no certain facts that ZoneAlarm was the culprit. Your post as lead to other thoughts now. What firewall have the machines now!.

  soy 21:39 13 Jun 2003

The free version of Zonealarm doesn't support networks. You have to upgrade to the pro version.

  rochester 22:12 13 Jun 2003

I also had problems networking PCs with Zonealarm installed. Its a great bit of free software for a single PC, but not if you want to share your Net connection. My 'main' machine now runs Windows XP Home, and the built in Firewall does a super job, and the other four PCs in our house all share without problems. I run the Windows update wizard regularly to make sure that all security patches are installed.

  Sir Radfordin? 23:00 13 Jun 2003

soy: it was the pro version, but I'll admit I didn't actually sit there and try and configure the thing. Had thought that shutting it down would be enough to stop it doing anything.

spuds: dare I say it..."they have no firewall" doh! Not an ideal situation, but real life is like that.

  Forum Editor 23:13 13 Jun 2003

taken by BT are very necessary, and you should be reassured to know that they're safeguarding private information in this way. Business or home, it doesn't matter - the need for BT to be very certain that they're talking to the right person is extremely important.

As was pointed out by soy, the free version of ZoneAlarm doesn't support networking, but the Pro version certainly does. It works well, but obviously needs to be configured properly before you start.

  Sir Radfordin? 10:36 14 Jun 2003

I fully accept that BT need to take security steps, but an employees mothers maiden name? What happens if that employee leaves (or gets run over by a bus?) what would BT do then.

ZoneAlarm should not stop network activity when it isn't running...should it? This is perhaps another example that few people really understand the changes made to their system by certain software.

  jazzypop 17:34 14 Jun 2003

"ZoneAlarm should not stop network activity when it isn't running...should it?"

I have found out the hard way (as you have) that ZA can and does leave remnants of itself in the system, even when 'properly' uninstalled.

I have seen it so many times, that one of my first questions when trying to sort out someone's non-working network is "Have you ever installed ZoneAlarm?". If the answer is yes, I always do a manual uninstall of ZA - in fact, I carry a printed copy of the instructions from click here in my PC repair toolcase.

  Joe McG 21:12 14 Jun 2003

Sir Radfordin,

You are certainly not the only user, not to install or run a firewall.

This is a sore point with many users in this forum, both for and against the use of firewalls.

Myself, and a couple of friends, who all have broadband, have been able to access virtually all drives and folders on each others pc's, with Norton, Zone alarm and mcafee firewalls all running.

After this experiment (approx 15 months ago) we all uninstalled our firewalls, and there has been no problems on any machine since.

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