Okay, I've been dealing with a problem that has been a thorn in my side for aeons. Using every ounce of my geek mana, I have not been able to solve the problem. Neither have numerous PC Tech buddies. I'm resorting to forum posts as a last resort, because I've pretty much given up hope of ever solving this problem. I'm beginning to suspect gremlins in my electrical outlets, but I'll let you guys be the judges.
I have two PCs in my house. The first is mine. The second is my family's. Since we got broadband in '00, they've been networked. File and print sharing worked perfectly fine, for a while. At the time, they were running to a 5 port switch, which jacked into our cable modem. My machine was running ME, and eventually XP, and theirs was running ME.
And it was good.
Until something went wrong.
At some point, many smoothly operating months later, the network just stopped functioning. Mind you, the cable access to both machines was fine, and I can ping the each machine by IP. But file and print sharing, though installed, though no reconfigurations had occured, just up and died.
After a month of swapping cable, trying multiple other switches, and swapping NICs, I resolved to get a 2nd XP license. I reformatted the family computer (We'll call it B from now on), set everything up, workgroup, etc.
And nothing. Same problem. Perfect net access, can ping via IP, can't file or printer share.
It's been about 2 years since then, and this problem drives me nuts because, due to space restraints, I can't hook the printer up to my computer, it needs to be at B's desk.
So every time I need to print something off the web, I need to run over to the machine, launch AIM, send the URL, and print from there. Hank forbid I have to print a document, in which case I either have to either upload it to my FTP, burn it to CD, copy it to my thumbdrive, or transfer the file via AIM (which, interestingly enough, happens at the speed of light. An 8 meg image flies across at the threshold of my 10/100 connection).
About 6 months ago, hoping the problem may have been every switch, cable, and NIC I tried, I scrapped a lot of stuff, got a mainboard with on-board NIC for my machine, got B a new NIC, bought a wireless router, and replaced every inch of cable. Which, let me tell you, was a bitch. I'd forgotten what a chore it was to run 50 feet of CAT-5 through a bunch of ceiling tiles.
And yet, the problem persisted. I reformatted and reinstalled both machines. And the problem persisted.
And then about 2 months ago, it mutated.
Suddenly, without warning, without any reconfiguration on my part, I can see the shares of directories that existed on my computer while on B. BUT - I cannot see shares that exist on B from my computer. Hence, I still cannot PRINT from my computer.
I would love it if the situation were reversed, because the users of B have no need to see my shares; I could merely drag and drop files into THEIR shares when necessary. But alas, no. My computer is essentially blind to B's existence.
So I ask you - What the fuck could possibly be the root of these problems? I've pretty much ruled out any possibility of hardware being the factor, but I've also gone over every network setting a billion and a half times and tried hundreds of permutations of their configuations to no avail whatsoever.
In short - HELP.