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I've been bothered by this for a little while now.  I reboot my laptop, it connects to my router (WLAN), gets its address (as well as the DNS server's address) via DHCP.  But the machine cannot resolve any names.  Vista reports my LAN is "local only".  Diagnostics say the DNS is not working.  I used Wireshark, and discovered that when I try to resolve a name, such as when I type "ping www.google.com" at the command prompt, it sends all resolution requests to my WINS server, which of course says it has no address for it, but does not, when that fails, attempt to resolve through the DNS.  Wireshark showed no traffic on port 53 at all. 

I ran NSLookup, which reports my router IP Address as the DNS.  IPCONFIG /all shows my wireless connection has my router's IP as the DNS server.  But Wireshark shows NO traffic on port 53 going to/from the router.  What's up with that?

Eventually, many long minutes later, I don't know exactly how long I waited, it starts working...  I have no idea why.

That is, I had no idea until today.  I think I have figured this out.  I have a gigabit ethernet port on my laptop as well, which IPConfig correctly reports as "Media disconnected".  But, now I notice in Wireshark, when you list all the interfaces, my gigabit ethernet port is listed, with an IP Address defined!  I had recently plugged my computer into my router with a cable, to move some large files I wanted to move faster.  So this IP Address I see assigned to my "media disconnected" port is, of course, on the same subnet as my wireless connection.   Hmmmmm.   If Wireshark thinks there is a gigabit port with an address on my subnet, maybe Vista does too?  Maybe it's trying to reach the DNS on this faster, all but disconnected, interface? 

So I went to Control Panel/Network Connections, and disabled my gigabit port.  Interesting, the DNS issue was immediately resolved.  I rebooted, and as soon as I got an address on my wireless WLAN, it immediately says it is enabled for local and internet.  Now I'm blogging about it.  So if the problem is not permanently resolved, I'll have to update this post.

So I think I've solved the problem.  And perhaps I've discovered a bad bug in Vista (I have all current service packs and updates installed). It appears to me, anecdotally at least, that that when the ethernet port gets an address assigned, but then gets disconnected (but is still enabled), it may have some effect on your networking.

Note that I do have a WINS server hardcoded for my WLAN connection.  And it is NOT on my local subnet at home.  But it is routable (my home router has a site-to-site VPN with the office) so the WINS server was responding to the requests.  I only mention this because in other posts I found while researching this, at least one had posted an IPCONFIG /ALL result which showed something similar - the DNS was defined (as the router's address) and there was a WINS server defined as well, but on another subnet, but the DNS was not being accessed properly.  Relevant?  I have no idea.

I hope someone finds this information useful...

Posted on Thursday, February 26, 2009 6:27 PM | Back to top


Comments on this post: Vista fails to use DNS, reports network as "Local Only" - problem resolved!

# re: Vista fails to use DNS, reports network as "Local Only" - problem resolved!
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We had this problem at our company as well. A bit annoying having to disable the hardline connection as I switch between wireless and hardline several times a day depending on what customer I need to work with and what route I need out of the office.

The problem seems to be inconsistent. You do not always need to disable the NIC. You should not need to reboot either... just diagnose and repair should do the trick.
Left by LEV on Feb 27, 2009 10:56 AM

# re: Vista fails to use DNS, reports network as "Local Only" - problem resolved!
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Thanks for the note. Interestingly, a couple times I clicked diagnose and repair, and it said it found nothing wrong, perhaps because it fixed it... But yesterday, diagnose and repair just kept saying there was a problem with my DNS service, the DNS server was not reachable. And it was not fixing it. So I had to figure out how to fix it myself. Don't know why it didn't work this time... But at least I now know how to work around it!
Left by Brian Biales on Feb 27, 2009 12:43 PM

# re: Vista fails to use DNS, reports network as "Local Only" - problem resolved!
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after days and daze of messng with loco only this fricken worked
Left by holycrap on Sep 25, 2009 2:46 PM

# re: Vista fails to use DNS, reports network as "Local Only" - problem resolved!
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Very useful.... someone tell DELL.
Left by Kev on Nov 05, 2009 1:18 PM

# re: Vista fails to use DNS, reports network as "Local Only" - problem resolved!
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'I hope someone finds this information useful...'

As that person I thank you
Left by RD on May 29, 2012 2:41 PM

# re: Vista fails to use DNS, reports network as "Local Only" - problem resolved!
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Very helpful still, spent a morning on vista box where it failed on 3 different hot spots with a dns error. TBF, the previous day I let windows install a printer the HP software wouldn't find. There was a lan bridge running that may have seen a router despite the install defaulting wireless. DNS may have been acquired through that inadvertently, creating a new subnet breaking the printer's link to other users.
Left by Elmer Dodson on Mar 19, 2015 3:11 AM

# re: Vista fails to use DNS, reports network as "Local Only" - problem resolved!
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Not IT, but follow up on above. It was the aftermath of the secretary ending the T1 lease and getting 3 hot spots/ USB wlan receivers for each PC. (Her idea, I was installing the phones.) No forethought on sharing printers, using a bridge to existing wires or identical router IPs when they jacked in printers. I had 3 PCs (Vista & 7 home/ pro) going local on wireless if the lan adapter was enabled. On one I witnessed 'ipconfig' lie on the true IP setting, it no longer matched the ipv4 settings. Ipconfig showed the static/ gateway I'd selected but the settings showed a revert to dhcp and old gateway IP. I re-applied and now seems OK. This imeediately ended the adapter clash. A router clash simply confused them that restarts don't clear?
Left by Elmer Dodson on Mar 21, 2015 1:21 AM

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