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Machine cannot "see" hardware device!


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#1
gildav

gildav

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(I realize now that this probably should have been posted in "Hardware" but here it is.)

Gateway laptop W4605/XP Home

Hello,

Thanks in advance to anyone who responds to this post.

A friend brought me a laptop that wouldn't boot. It is an older one (7-8 years) branded as an eMachine but is really a Gateway W4605. He thought he got a virus. Things started going haywire and, after a couple of days, would not boot at all.

Boot screen said "media failure- no operating system found". First thought is hard drive failure. But... Bios/boot menu did not see either the hard drive or the optical drive. Big co-incidence if both failed at the same time. Was hard to diagnose and boot without hard drive or optical but got a mini OS on a USB stick and eventually got the thing booted. Hard drive and optical were both good and I used the system recovery disk to format/re-install the OS.

Now, every device on the machine is installed and working properly except the wireless (802.11) adapter. The machine definitely has one but I cannot see it anywhere- not listed in device manager in "adapters" or "others", cannot get "add new hardware" to see it, doesn't show up in "system info/components". This thing is a ghost.

The model number doesn't have a wireless network adapter driver on the driver download page.The machine is old enough that Gateway doesn't have the specific user manual for this machine, just a generic laptop user manual applicable to all similar series laptops. When I look at similar machines, I see wireless network adapters from 3 or 4 manufacturers installed. (I'm hoping to not download all these different drivers and install them willy-nilly until, hopefully, one works.)

Now, a wireless network adapter was optional on this machine when purchased, but... my friend swears he used this machine regularly in wi-fi hotspots. And, the generic user manual says that the wireless radio LED indicator will not function in machines that do not have a wireless network card installed. The LED indicator light does turn on and off, implying the board is at least trying to turn an installed device on or off.

I have checked for conflicts- none. I have used third-party software (Belarc Advisor and SiSoft to inventory resources on the machine and neither sees a wireless network adapter. (I'm guessing that's because it is not powered up so nothing can see it. No other devices or apps have dependencies that would go looking for it.)

So.. any help would be appreciated. I could tell my friend to just go out and buy a USB wireless network adapter but he brought it to me because he doesn't have a lot of money to spend in the first place. Also, I do this stuff for a living and am fairly good at it. This is really bugging me.

Maybe there is something I have missed. Or maybe someone out there knows of an application that will burrow deeply and discover devices that are not installed and/or powered up.

Thanks for reading this far.

Edited by gildav, 14 March 2010 - 02:58 PM.

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#2
Troy

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Hi mate,

First things first - a lot of computers will have a hardware switch for the WLAN card. If this is turned off, then the card is turned off and won't be able to be seen or installed. Make sure this is on.

Next, have you installed the proper chipset drivers for this computer? I've had similar issues to this where everything is installed according to Device Manager, however installing the latest chipset drivers reveals more "Found New Hardware" boxes after a reboot - particularly WLAN and bluetooth!

Last point, the WLAN card may be stuffed?

Cheers
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#3
gildav

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Thanks for the reply.

The machine does not have a switch for the wireless card/radio/adapter. I checked meticulously. In most machines with a a switch, when the switch is turned off, the device still shows up in device manager. It shows as disabled.

And, it is possible that the card is bad, but, it would be a long co-incidence if the card died just as I was doing this format/re-install.

The chipset though is another story. I did not re-install the chipset drivers. I usually don't have to on an OS re-install. I will try that and post on the results.

This is truly bugging me because I have never had a device that I couldn't "see" somehow.

Thanks for posting your reply.
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#4
Troy

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The machine does not have a switch for the wireless card/radio/adapter. I checked meticulously. In most machines with a a switch, when the switch is turned off, the device still shows up in device manager. It shows as disabled.

Yes, it does show as disabled if it is installed correctly in the first place. Otherwise it may report an unknown device, may report a networking device with no drivers, or it may be hidden due to chipset drivers not being installed yet. I've seen all of these happen. :)
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