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Netgear GA311 driver install weirdness?

Today’s weird tech problem, I had to replace a network card in a client’s machine today. Simple, right? The card was a Netgear GA311, running a Realtek 8169 chipset. The chipset probably wouldn’t matter much, if I didn’t have so many bloody problems.

So I installed the hardware, and booted up into Windows XP. The card detected, I whacked in the CD, and let the Found New Hardware Wizard do it’s thing… Or die trying!

No matter what I tried, I continuously received the “Cannot find the specified file” error message. I did a search around and found numerous people having similar issues.

One such user on the Netgear forums posted that he manually copied the required driver files into the Windows\INF and Windows\System32\Drivers folders, but this had no effect on our install. Another user mentioned the Realtek drivers, which unfortunately, again, resulted in the same error.

I was quite annoyed at this time, ready to put my fist through the client’s touch screen LCD…

Then I found a tiny little registry hack courtesy of someone who had the patience to actually call Microsoft about it.

  1. Backup HKLM\System\CurrentControlSet\Control\Network
  2. Delete the “Config” key
  3. Reboot
  4. Reinstall drivers.

Hurrah! This worked a treat. Well sort of… I still had to install the Realtek drivers, the Netgear ones continued to error out… The Netgear drivers supplied on both the CD and on their website, both have a zero byte security catalogue file, which I suspect has something to do with it… Either way, I think I’ve seen similar issues with Netgear cards – from now on, I’ll be using Realtek drivers where there is one available, I simply don’t trust Netgear’s drivers anymore, especially considering they can’t bundle a working driver with hardware, or make one available on their website.

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