Saturday, February 18, 2012

Windows 7 Incorrectly Asks for a Network Password


After upgrading all three of my home computers, I went in to set up networking. I don't use Windows 7 homegroup because of limitations and security issues, so I set up standard networking. Now, this isn't my first rodeo setting up my home network, so I was surprised to find that I had a problem that even the mighty Google didn't seem to have an answer for.

As I mentioned, I have three computers, now all with identical hardware, Gravitar, SockMonkey and Chowder, all running Windows 7 professional. Gravitar and SockMonkey are both on a wireless router while Chowder has a CAT5 to the router.

After I set up networking, everything worked except that you could not get to Chowder. Every time you tried, it would come up with a dialog wanting a network password. Of course, there was no network password as I had the password protected sharing turned off. Further, you could go to Chowder and get to the other two computers on the network.

After double checking all the settings and verifying they were correct, I turned to Google. There were numerous entries of people who had the same issue that I was experiencing, so at first I had hope that there was a solution. After looking over the entries, some even on Microsoft's own forum, I found that while a lot of people had the same issue, there were very few, if any solutions.

I am assuming that the reader has experience with setting up home networking, so I am not going to go over how to do it on Windows 7. If you do need to know there are about a thousand entries on Google which tell how to do so. Check them out and make sure you have all your settings correct.

Here is the long list of things that were mentioned and/or tried:

1. Under advanced sharing settings, turn on network discovery, turn on file and printer sharing, and turn off password protected sharing. Further, go into Windows Explorer settings and turn off “use file sharing wizard” and also make sure that all computers are in the same workgroup.

These were mentioned a lot, but these are network settings that you should already have set properly. I did try turning the settings opposite and then changing them back, but to no avail.

2. Disable the guest login

Not sure what this accomplishes because unless you have a very good reason, the guest account should be disabled anyway. Mine was already disabled by default.

3. Create/join the homegroup.

It makes no difference if you are using the homegroup or not because if you have the networking set up correctly, it should work. Homegroup is only a mechanism that sits on top of the normal sharing system that tries to make it easier to use networking. In any case, it made no difference.

4. Each computer needs/must have a username and/or password that are identical on each computer (this has also been suggested as a work around).

Ludicrous. That is exactly what I avoid... having to maintain identical user accounts on each machine. You can do it that way, but it's the same as going to the doctor and saying “My arm hurts when I bend my elbow” and the doc says “Well, don't bend your elbow”.

5. Your anti-virus or firewall is blocking sharing.

This may be true in some cases, but it was easy to check by turning those off temporarily. For me, I still couldn't access Chowder.

6. Changing settings in the security policy.

There are many settings in the security policy dealing with networking. I did try a few of these solutions in desperation, but logically it don't make sense. My other two computers were working fine with the defaults, so why should Chowder be any different? Skip this unless you have mucked with them before and then set them back to the defaults.

7. Windows 7 is corrupt... reload it.

A valid solution, but one I wanted to avoid due to the sheer headache of reloading everything and the applications.

8. Type in the computer name as the computer name and password and various other username and password combinations.

Useless. It shouldn't be asking for a network password anyway.

9. The time is not synchronized on each computer.

This one actually has merit. If the time is off on one of the computers, it seems that the network password dialog will pop up. Most of the posts I found was that it was significantly off, like an hour. Still, my computers were all synchronized, so it wasn't a solution for me.

10. Router issues/settings are wrong or reset router.

I didn't go into depth on this one, because before my upgrades, everything on the network was working fine with the same router and same settings. I suppose that it could be the router in some cases, but if you can see the other computers in the network and as in my case, the other computers are working well on the network, then I doubt that it would be the issue. I did, however, reset the router but it made no difference.

I tried several of the “solutions” which made sense and verified the settings on the others to no avail. I worked on the problem for a couple of weeks. I figured that something in the registry or other deep internal setting was glitched, but could not find any solution. Just when I thought I would have to break down and reload Windows 7 on Chowder, I found the solution: WinASO Registry Cleaner and Optimizer.

No, this is not a disguised advertisement for the product, even though I think highly of it. Since I figured some internal registry or other LAN/networking setting was hosed, I thought of a registry cleaner. As a last ditch, Hail Mary attempt, I ran it on Chowder. I cleaned the registry and ran the optimizer. Low and behold, Chowder stopped asking for the network password and started working normally. I really don't have any idea what the program fixed, but as long as it worked there is really no need to investigate further.

If someone with the same issue is reading this and can't resolve the issue, give WinASO a shot. You can find it easily at http://download.cnet.com. It's quick and may save you a lot of hair pulling and gnashing of teeth.

Good luck!

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