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Help! The Damn Thing Just Won't Work - Part 3


This part is purely for users of Windows 95/98 - I don't know enough about other operating systems to be able to assist. It assumes that:
  • The phone-line connection has been successfully tested in section 1
  • The modem installation has been successfully tested in section 2
  • The modem connected successfully with an ISP using a Terminal program in section 3
  • it will not access your ISP through Windows, or
  • Dial-Up Networking will connect, but Internet Explorer will not (go here)

Troubleshooting - Step 4: Windows Connection Services

This leaves the Windows connection facilities as the problem on the machine, rather than the modem. The one caveat to this statement must be for owners of V.90 modems, which will sometimes connect in section 3 & then immediately drop the line. If there is any suspicion that this is the case, then use the table here to prevent the modem from making a V.90 connection, and try with Windows again.

Immediately below are the known problems with Windows Connections. Next is a short piece on each of the Windows connection components:

If you want to get straight onto fixing the Windows Connection facilities, go here.
Known problems with Windows connections:

These are the ones I know of (do send me more):

Known Problems with Windows Dial-in Connections

More information is available in Q174579 on the Microsoft knowledge base. One sequence of events that can cause this is removing the Compuserve software provided with Windows 95.

It is due to either a wrong or corrupted file handling the Session Management Module aspects of DUN. Compuserve enters the picture because its WOW! service [software supplied with Windows 95, but the service discontinued January 1998] used one of its own files rather than a Windows file. Unfortunately, reinstalling DUN does not fix the problem, & we will need to go hacking into the Registry:

Error 745 - An essential file is missing
    open System
    open CurrentControlSet
    open Services
    open RemoteAccess
    open Authentication
    open SMM_Files
    click on PPP in the left-hand pane
Look now in the right-hand pane to see the value of either Default or, if empty, Path. There is one of two legal values for this key:
    rasapi32.dll - the default value, or
    smmscrpt.dll - which means that Dial-Up Scripting is installed
Any other value means that the Compuserve (or other) software has changed this key, & it will need changing back:
    click on Default or Path [whichever is not empty]
    go Edit then Modify
    change the value to "rasapi32.dll" [no quotes]
    press the OK button

    as long as rasapi32.dll is on disc that will have fixed the problem - close down the Registry Editor.

If the value is correct, then the file on disc is either missing or corrupted, & will need replacing from the Windows' Cabinet files:
    make a note of the name of the file, then close down the Registry Editor.
Editing the Registry
    press the Windows Start key
    choose Run
    enter "regedit" [no quotes]
    press the OK button
The hives can be opened by clicking on the "+'s" inside of the little square boxes.

Take Care! Mistakes made with the Registry Editor can, at best, stop a program from working, or at worst, can stop Windows from working. There is no 'undo' or 'save' options. Once a change is made, it is made permanently.

There is a menu option under 'Registry' to export/import all or part of the Registry. Highly cautious/error-prone people may wish to use this.

Replacing missing/corrupted files: use Windows Find (see box at right) to find the file & make a note of the location of the file if it exists.

The files should be in:

    Win95: the Windows folder
    Win98: the Windows\System folder

rasapi32.dll is 194 KB & smmscrpt.dll is 60 KB in Win98.
Windows Find
    press the Windows Start key
    choose Find
    choose Files or Folders...
A quick way to bring this dialog up is to press & hold the Windows key on the keyboard and press 'F' (both keys at the same time).
Rename any existing files to have an ".old" filetype & extract new files from the Windows cabinet files.
Windows Cabinet files
Cabinet files are compressed collections of files - a little like ZIP files, though these have CAB filetypes.

All the Microsoft support articles that list the file contents of the Cabinet files within the various versions of win95/8 are listed below.

Extracting from Cabinet files
There are a number of ways of extracting a file, depending both on your version of Windows & on the programs that you have available. In order of increasing difficulty:
  1. System File Checker (sfc.exe) [Win98 & later only]
  2. Windows explorer [Win98 only]
  3. WinZip v7 & above [all Windows versions]
  4. manual extraction (extract.exe) [all Windows versions]

1 System File Checker (sfc.exe) [Win98 & later only]
    Press the Windows Start key
    choose Run
    enter sfc & press OK
    choose extract one file...
    enter the name of the file (or browse)
    choose Start
    check the Restore from [location of Cabinet files] & Save in locations
    press OK
The default is to back up the original file - the Settings.. button gives access to check or change this.

2 Windows explorer [Win98 & later only]
3 WinZip v7 & above [all Windows versions]

    Windows Explorer in Win98 & later allows Cabinet files to be treated just like folders, whilst version 7 of WinZip will open a Cabinet file just like a zip-file. It is probably best with each of these methods to rename the old file (if it exists) to .old.
4 Manual Extraction (extract.exe) [all Windows versions]

See alsoQ129505

    press the Windows Start key
    choose Programs
    choose MS-DOS Prompt
    type cd <DRIVE>:\<FOLDER><ENTER>
      <DRIVE> is the drive letter
      <FOLDER> is the location of the cab-files
      <ENTER> is the Enter-key
      e.g. cd C:\Options\Cabs
    this moves to the location of the cabinet files

    type extract /a win95_02.cab rasapi32.dll /l <WINDOWS>

      <WINDOWS> is the location of the original file - usually C:\Windows
    this extracts the file
Windows System CAB files
These are the files from which the Windows operating system was originally built.

Windows keeps a record of the location of the drive and folder of these files (see end of this section) so that, if any part of the system files are installed or re-installed, it knows where to find them. Experience suggests that this record can often be wrong, however, & extracting a fresh file can sometimes be a touch difficult.

The operating system was originally loaded either:

  • direct from Windows floppy discs (rare)
  • direct from a Windows CD
  • from CAB files stored on a hard-disc
  • across a network connection
These days the CAB's are often on the hard disc. These is convenient, as the Windows system CD does not need to be put in the CDROM every time a portion of Windows is re-installed. The downside is that it leaves these files open to software corruption.

To discover where they are:

    use Windows Find & enter "*.cab" [no quotes] in the Named: box
    choose the Find Now button
If the Cabinet files are on disc there should be 20 or more files with Windows-like names all in the same directory (often Options\Cabs). If not, put the Windows CD in the CDROM & try again.

Registry location:

    within the SourcePath Key at:


Winsock.dll [or Wsock32.dll to name it's newer brother] is a Windows' Sockets file which is intimately involved in all Network & DUN connections. Turnpike comes into the picture because early versions used a non-Microsoft WinSock which is incompatible with Windows DUN, leaving standard Windows connections high-and-dry if Turnpike is then uninstalled while this WinSock is active. I understand Turnpike to be much used by Demon users (see right). Turnpike & WinSock
Copies of winsock.dll, Wsock32.dll & wsock.vxd will need
  • extracting from the Windows cabinet files.
  • Or, look for ".OLD" versions of the files - i.e. Winsock.old or Wsock32.old - different versions have different sizes; see here. It is normal practice to rename the previous files in this way, and using Windows Explorer to rename them back should cure the problem.
  • Or, for Win95 users, download w95ws2setup.exe to upgrade winSock to version 2.2 - a good idea anyway.
I'm indebted to Paul Terry for the following:

"Versions of Turnpike prior to Version 3.05 were supplied with a winSock made by NTS, which was not fully compatible with the Microsoft winSock that is supplied with Dial-Up Networking.

If you use an old version of Turnpike, you can install Dial-Up Networking and configure Turnpike to use the Microsoft winSock. Alternatively, upgrade to a more recent version of Turnpike, which will install and configure DUN 1.3 for you."

Typically, DUN dials out with long, long periods of hand-shaking but no connection with an eventual time-out resulting in the whole process being repeated over again, perhaps many times, until connection is eventually made [or not].

This is usually because of wrong settings within the DUN connectoid, & specifically a tick in the "Log on to network" box. A possible explanation is that the Dial-Up Adapter in Network is missing or corrupt, in which case it will need to be reinstalled, but the usual explanation is that the connectoid has been manually created, as this is the default setting.

The fix & a screen shot are here.

DUN takes a long time to connect

The latest release of Windows98 has versions of DUN & winSock which are both newer and more reliable than poor old Windows95. To be specific, these are These can also be obtained from the Microsoft site, from the front cover CD's of certain magazines or this site. You are strongly urged to obtain these - DUN is flaky enough in the latest Windows98 version. There is also a file available from the Microsoft upgrade site for users of Windows98 offering 40-bit encryption [319 KB] for DUN which may be valuable to some. Both this & the DUN upgrades above are produced & copyright The Microsoft Corporation. DUN & WinSock upgrades

This applies to Windows 98 Second Edition (Win98 SE), with the Internet Connection Sharing (ICS) utility installed, & America Online (AOL) as your Internet Service Provider (ISP), only.

If you have this error message with another version of Windows, or ICS is not installed, or your ISP is not AOL, go here. To quickly display your Windows version, see right.

Microsoft has provided support articles Q241344 & Q238550 concerning this problem.

The problem occurs if ICS is installed when both AOL & Dial-Up Networking are installed, as TCP/IP (shared) will bind by default to the Dial-Up Adapter rather than to the AOL Adapter. This means that you either abandon any other ISP's that you may be using, or abandon AOL, or abandon ICS. One or the other.

The fix is to uninstall ICS, remove the Dial-up Adapter, then reinstall ICS & ensure that TCP/IP (Shared) is now bound to the AOL Adapter. It is not possible to reinstall the Dial-Up Adapter. In the support articles (above) that I've read Microsoft says to do this from Network Neighbourhood. However, I'm sure that this is a mistake, & that it should read Network.

Page cannot be displayed
after installing ICS with AOL as the ISP


Displaying the Windows Version
This is done by bringing up the General page of System Properties.

The quickest way of doing this is to:

    Press and hold down the <Windows> key
    Press the <Pause/Break> key

    (both keys at the same time)

An alternate method is to:
    open My Computer
    open Control Panel
    open System
This shows both the type & version number of Windows, processor & type plus Random Access Memory (RAM) as well as other info.

Windows Connection Components

My first introduction to Microsoft's very wonderful Internet Explorer came when I signed up with the ISP called Freeserve. Internet Explorer
Freeserve has - like many thousands of other ISP's - used the Internet Explorer Administration Kit [IEAK] to produce it's install program. You can see this for yourself by examining various of the installation files, or the Registry following installation - try, as an example, opening C:\Program Files\Internet Explorer\Signup\install.ins & searching for "ieak". This means that:
  • Internet Explorer [IE] is installed from the CD as part of the installation process - or should be. The IEAK seems to have been written in the days of IE4 & not to have been updated for IE5, as the reports are that many people with IE5 already on the system get the message that a "later version is already installed" & the installation stops! A file on the CD called "signup.isp" is very useful here, as it launches the dial sequence to signup.

    If IE is already on the system it will either be left alone or updated with a newer version - in either case it retains current settings. This is important for the signup process, which uses a secure form of the HyperText Transfer Protocol [HTTPS], and cookies to track your progress through the Signup pages. If security is set too high in IE this can cause problems.

... is a British Internet Service Provider (ISP) that started operations in the Autumn of 1998, & which I signed up with a couple of months later. It has been responsible for literally millions of people becoming new Internet users, and these words were originally written to help these new users help themselves with their modem problems.

In fact, only 20% of visitors to this site are from UK domains, meaning that the greatest majority of visitors are not Freeserve users, so in later updates I've tried to reflect this fact.

So, what is written in these sections is specifically true for Freeserve, but much of it may reflect your own ISP's practice.

  • Dial-Up Networking [DUN] & the Network components, if not already on the system, are installed from the Windows' Cabinet files. The checking procedure seems a little short here, as either:
    • a Client can not be installed at all [leading to "Logon to Windows" dialogs at connection, & easily confused with DUN]
    • illegal names within the Identification page of Network [screen shot] [giving the harmless but annoying WNetGetUser message]
    • TCP/IP not installed at all, leading to no connection
  • the Internet Connection Wizard [ICW - part of the IE installation] is used during the signup process. isignup.exe is one of it's executable files, and files with a filetype of "ISP" & "INS" are linked through the Registry with the ICW. This seems to be a problem with some OEM installations of Windows 98 which are either missing this segment of ie4/5 or have registry corruptions where the ICW is concerned. The IE installation file has a quiet-mode switch which may allow re-installation, fixing the errors: either:
      "IE4SETUP /N:V" or
      "IE5SETUP /Q"
    Use at your own risk, & do not install ie4 over the top of ie5.
  • only Windows files are used during connections - both during and after signing up to the ISP. This means that, if you have Windows 98, you cannot uninstall the ISP, since IE is part of the Windows' operating system. This is particularly galling since...
  • ...the ISP's logo & name is now plastered all over your computer! The logo's are easy to remove - they are simple BMP files, stored in Freeserve's case within C:\Program Files\Internet Explorer\Signup & can be removed without harm. The name is a little more difficult, as it is stored within the Registry, & means changing Registry key values. Which nicely leads on to...
  • ...extensive use is made of the Registry - Microsoft advises that 4 MB of free registry space is required on NT4 machines upgrading from IE3 to IE5. As DUN also makes extensive use of the Registry - DUN connectoids are not stored on disc as discrete files - it means that messages such as "Cannot Detect Modem" during/after signup may be due to either a corrupted modem installation and/or a corrupted DUN installation, & one or both may need re-installation.

DUN is at the heart of all Windows 95/98 connection services. I'm biased, but it is possibly the most flaky piece of Windows software in existence. A corrupt DUN on my own Windows95 system cost me about 4 continuous hours of frustration before discovery. The typical sign of corruption in DUN is mysteriously-disappearing entries, or 'phantom' entries (connectoids not showing in DUN yet being accessed by other communications software). Dial-Up Networking [DUN]
Once an Internet account has been established with an ISP & a connectoid exists in DUN, then strictly Internet Explorer is not needed. The DUN connectoid can be used on it's own to connect, then any Browser can be used to browse the web, any Mail Client used to send/receive e-mail, any FTP Client used to transmit/receive files, and so on.

It seems pretty clear that early versions of the Windows connection facilities left much to be desired, and Microsoft has had to work hard to produce stable & reliable remote access facilities:

  • later versions of Win95 were supplied with DUN v1.1
  • the first release of Win98 was supplied with DUN v1.2
  • later releases of Win98 use DUN v1.3
  • WinMe uses DUN v1.4
  • early ISP's avoided Windows connections totally - AOL still supplies it's own Dial-up Adaptor [see below]
  • alternatives for DUN were extremely popular, such as the Demon favourite Turnpike; early versions of this program bypassed the Windows Sockets file winSock entirely in favour of it's own non-compatible version
  • Microsoft has provided a comprehensive upgrade for Windows 95 users - DUN v1.3 - a meaty 2.3 MB.
  • DUN v1.4 is available as an upgrade for Windows 98
  • Microsoft has provided a comprehensive upgrade for winSock.dll/wsock32.dll - WinSock2 - a 964 KB download. Win98 & later already has this file.

DUN is most easily accessed:
    open My Computer
    open Dial-Up Networking
  • 'Connectoids' is the name for entries in the DUN window They are stored in the Registry and do not exist as files on disc. They are found in
      location: RemoteAccess

      hive: HKEY_USERS
      location: DEFAULT\RemoteAccess

    Entries on your own system can be different according to the Users registered. Cross-references possibly exist under the reference 'Connectoid' in the same hives under:
      location: Software\Microsoft\Internet Account Manager\Accounts
      location: Software\Microsoft\Office\8.0\Outlook\Internet Account Manager\Accounts
    and possibly many other places under other references too - it's one of those kind of items.

  • It may be a surprise for some people with stand-alone computers that they have Networking on the machine. The thinking is that of Inter-net, or Inter-networks [a network of networks]. It may only be one computer, but when you surf the net then, as far as your ISP's computer is concerned, it's connecting one network to another network, & this is why you get an entire IP address allocated all to yourself. The fact that when you disconnect it's taken back & allocated to someone else is by-the-by.

    The prime instruction with the Network components is - in most cases - DON'T TOUCH! Property values here will over-ride DUN values, & any one value changed can prevent connection.

    There are 3 network components required for IEAK-installed ISP's such as Freeserve (see right); these all work fine with the default values they are given when first installed

    Network Components


    the Client
    Either Microsoft Family Logon or Microsoft Client for Microsoft Networks. These introduce an Identification page into Network [screen shot] and, in the case of MS Client, a Network Neighborhood icon onto the Desktop. This latter has a similar function to the My Computer icon, but for the Network.

    the Adapter
    This is a Dial-Up Adapter, a software-only adapter.

    the Protocol
    TCP/IP - the Internet protocol - and, if more than one Adaptor is present, it needs to be bound to the Dial-Up Adapter.

    This is actually quite easy with IEAK-installed ISP's such as Freeserve. What follows may require the Windows CD & about 20 minutes. Some computer suppliers put the Windows cabinet files on the hard disc, in which case the Windows CD will not be needed. The principle of what follows is to strip DUN and Networking facilities out of the computer, then re-install.

    I am not going to consider fixing any problems with Internet Explorer [IE] here (though see below), because:

      1 It can not be uninstalled with Win98 & later
      2 The "Recovery" procedure at the end will reset IE4/5 back into a workable situation with the ISP

    Certain groups of people need to give a bit of pre-thought to the situation on their machine [you are about to strip all Networking & Dial-Up Networking facilities out of your machine, then re-install them]. If your computer
    • is on a Network, then consult with your Network Administrator
    • makes secure connections to a Local Area Network over a dial-up line, then consult with your Network Administrator, as the procedure below will strip out such support
    • is used by other people who use the communication facilities on the computer, consult with them
    • has other connectoids in DUN - other ISP's, from Banking Software, or whatever - these connectoids should be recreated when dun is reinstalled. That's the theory, & it usually works - if not, they will need to be re-created manually:
        open My Computer
        open DUN
        highlight the connectoid
        go File
        choose Properties [screen shot here]
      now, write down every setting on every page & under every button, but particularly TCP/IP. Later, when DUN is re-installed, a new connectoid with the same name will need making & all these settings copied into it.

    Fixing the Problem


    Reinstalling Connection Components:

    If your OS is Win95 & either DUN or WinSock has been upgraded, it will first be necessary to uninstall the upgrade.

    The program used to remove/reinstall the Windows connection facilities is Add/Remove Programs, either directly from the Windows CD or in Control Panel:

    Removing DUN & Network
      open My Computer
      open Control Panel
      open Add/Remove Programs
      click on the Windows Setup page
      Take the tick out of Communications & press 'OK' - they're gone.

      This will remove DUN and, because Dial-Up Networking is no longer in the system, it will also remove all or some of the Networking components.

      Depending on your version of Windows you will either:

      • Be back at Control Panel
      • Receive a confirmation dialog with an 'OK' button (press it)
      • Receive a confirmation dialog warning you of the need to restart the machine, with a 'Yes' & 'No' button (in which case press 'No' - we need to check the Network components).
    Add/Remove Programs

    Network is also found in Control Panel:
      open Network
    Checking Network Components
    An owner of a "simple" non-networked computer will find the window as right to be empty, in which case you can click 'Cancel' & continue here.

    The Client (WNetGetUser)
    Microsoft Family Logon [or Microsoft Client for Networks if Win95] provides the means of storing a password and also provides the 'Identification' page seen right. This latter is the means of removing the infamous WNetGetUser message (due to illegal characters - such as spaces - in the computer name).

    The entries as right are the minimum needed for a stand-alone computer to connect to the net (before DUN was removed, that is). In fact, if yours is a stand-alone computer and your ISP is not AOL, these are also the maximum entries that are needed. Remember, our purpose here is to remove software corruption on the system by removing all Windows connection facilities & then reinstalling them. This means that we want to ensure that the 3 components at right are now gone from the system, but it is not always possible.

    This part of Windows used to be a very quiet bywater in the Home Computer district but, with the rise of the Internet, Home Networking & other developments, is becoming quite over-populated. Thus, many people will find that there are still entries in the window. Some of these it is important to get rid of, others you must not touch, and others it doesn't matter one way or the other - unless you are tidy-minded like me!

    Removing DUN always removes the Dial-Up Adapter, and also removes the other two Network components that DUN needs to connect, unless Windows thinks that your computer will still need them. It's not possible to anticipate every item that may be here, so cannot advise on every situation, but here are the main ones:

    Network Adapter Don't Touch!
    If your machine is on a Local Area Network [LAN] you either shouldn't be doing this or should already know what to do!. An adapter card is the actual physical hardware used to interface your computer with the LAN, & this is the driver to allow it to talk with the computer. Don't remove this driver.

    Ideally we want to remove every Client from Network so that it can be re-installed with default values, which then will work fine with DUN. However, those values may not work fine with your network, & I cannot advise you on this. Don't remove any clients.

    Ideally we want to remove every Protocol from Network so that it can be re-installed with default values, which then will work fine with DUN. However, those values may not work fine with your network, & I cannot advise you on this. Don't remove any protocols.

    If the computer is not on a LAN, then leave the adapter, but remove all Clients & all Protocols (you don't need them). The system will give a warning when you press 'OK', but ignore it.

    AOL Dial-Up Adapter Take Care!
    If you wish to retain AOL, then do not touch either the adapter, clients or any protocols.

    If you no longer use AOL it is probably best to use the main page of Add/Remove Programs to remove it, then come back to Network & clear out any detritus (Clients & Protocols) that is left.

    Infra-red devices, etc. etc. Take Care!
    Don't touch if you wish to retain their use. Clients may be removed, & non-Infra-red Protocols may be removed.

    Dial-Up Adapter with VPN support Take Care!
    This is used to make secure connections over a dialup-line with a LAN (a similar-but-different one is NDIS-WAN). You really should know whether your machine uses this or not. If it does, don't touch it or any Clients or Protocols.

    If you don't use them, use the Windows Setup page of Add/Remove Programs to remove it, then come back to Network & clear out any detritus (Clients & Protocols) that is left.

    If no changes have been made to Network press 'Cancel', else press 'OK'. The computer will now need to be shutdown-restarted, & the place to go once Windows has re-appeared is, once again, Add/Remove Programs on the Windows Setup page.

    Reinstalling DUN & Network
    Just as removing Dial-Up Networking removed Network components associated with it, so reinstalling DUN will reinstall the necessary components. Usually. Windows makes the best job of this that it can, but doesn't always get it right (see right), so we will check them out.

    Confirm that the tick-box next to Communications is empty - if not, either you made a mistake & will need to start again here, or your Windows system is seriously compromised & will need to be reinstalled completely. Otherwise...

      highlight Communications
      press Details...
      put a tick in Dial-Up Networking (& perhaps also HyperTerminal)
      Press OK
      Press OK

    Don't restart the computer yet! We now need to return to Network. All necessary components should have been installed, but if not, see right for how to manually add them. If changes have been made press 'OK' else press 'Cancel' then shutdown-restart the computer.

    This is the stage at which, if yours is Win95 & either DUN or WinSock have been upgraded, the upgrade can be re-applied.

    Now go to Dial-Up Networking (via 'My Computer' is the quickest way) & check that the DUN connectoids have been re-established. If not, then they will need to be recreated. This is easy if your's is an IEAK-installed ISP like Freeserve, but wearisome if not.

    • Freeserve users use a file called signup.isp on the installation CD to Retrieve their account (see right).
    • other ISP users will need to manually recreate their DUN entry as detailed above

      A Windows XP new DUN connectoid creation walk-through with screen-shots is here (for NTL World).

    Windows95 DUN Reinstallation
    Win98 & later always gets 'simple' DUN reinstallation correct, but Win95 always gets it wrong:

    TCP/IP is missing - add this protocol (see below).

    There are 2 Clients - Client for Netware Networks in addition to Client for Microsoft Networks. The Netware Networks client can be removed, if not used by other components.

    There are 2 extra protocols - IPX/SPX plus NetBEUI. These can both be removed if not used by other components.

    Manual Network Reinstallation
    press Add
    select Client, Adapter or Protocol
    press Add
    choose Microsoft on the left
    then, on the right:

    if Win98: Client choose Microsoft Family Logon
    if Win95: Client choose Client for Microsoft Networks
    if Adapter choose Dial-Up Adapter
    if Protocol choose TCP/IP

    press OK

    Retrieving an Account
    Freeserve's signup page contains 2 options:
      1 Create a new account
      2 Retrieve an existing account
    This second option requires the e-mail address & password, then leads to a final page with a 'Finish' button. Pressing this button will download a cookie called 'install.ins', and this file works with the ICW to setup the whole internet/e-mail/communication systems on the computer ready to connect. Obviously, this file can also be used at any future time to re-setup this or any other computer.

    The easiest way to get into the signup process is to locate & double-click upon a file called 'signup.isp'. This plain-text file also works with the ICW and automatically connects the computer to the signup page.

    Beware! install.ins is a plain-text file which contains your password. In plain text.

    It is possible that you may have successfully worked through all 3 pages of this trouble-shooter, & are now receiving one of the messages as at right. My commiserations, but do not give up hope yet - help is still at hand.

    If you have Windows 98 Second Edition (Win98 SE), & are receiving this message after installing the Internet Connection Sharing (ICS) utility, & America Online (AOL) is your Internet Service Provider (ISP), go here.

    If you want to hear the sound of a stomach dropping towards the floor, phone up your nearest ISP support technician & tell them that you are receiving this message when you attempt to connect to any web page. The reason for the sinking feeling in our support technician is the sheer range of reasons that can cause this message. We, however, are in a much better situation to fix the problem as long as the following is true:

    • The first 3 sections have been sorted as detailed at the top of this page
    • The Windows connection facilities of DUN & Network have been reinstalled as detailed here
    • DUN now either:
        an Error 650 (see right)
        connects to your ISP
    • Internet Explorer now shows one or more of the errors as at right.
    Broadly, the reasons for these errors fall into one of two camps:
    • One or more incorrect Internet Explorer connection settings
    • Missing, incorrect or corrupted copies of one or more Windows connection files or registry entries

    The Page Cannot Be Displayed

    [ISP connection but no web pages]


    Thanks to...
    This section has been prompted by 2 things: an e-mail from Wayne Kading detailing how reinstalling Windows Sockets v 2.2 fixed this error, plus the release of Q241344 - a genuinely useful Microsoft support article, released on 3 Feb 00.

    Error Messages:
    • The Page Cannot Be Displayed (ie5)
    • An internal error occurred in the Windows Internet extensions (ie4)
    • Unable to create a network socket connection
    • Cannot find DNS server
    • Error 650 - no response to network request (DUN win95/8)
    • Error 650 - The Remote Access server is not responding (DUN NT4)

    Fixing the problem:

    The first issue is to make sure that Internet Explorer's connection properties are correct for your ISP. This is one area that has changed a great deal between ie4 & ie5, particularly regarding the Proxy Server settings (see right).

    Retrieving a Freeserve account as detailed above will automatically reset Internet Explorer's connection properties to the correct values. If your ISP does not have a similar procedure you will need to contact them to verify what the correct values are.

    Go to the Connection page of Internet Options (see right).

    Internet Explorer Connection Properties


    Internet Explorer - 4 v's 5
    Internet Explorer 4 shares the same Proxy Server settings amongst all connections, whilst ie5 allows different Proxy Server properties to be associated with specific connections. This makes ie4 difficult to use with multiple ISP's (essentially use of the proxy server needs to be disabled), & ie5 much easier to use with more than one ISP with conflicting settings.

    Accessing the Internet Options:

      from the Tools menu of ie5
      from the View menu of ie4

      from Control Panel - Internet Options (ie5)
      from Control Panel - Internet (ie4)

    At right is a screen shot of the Connections page of ie5.

    Never dial a connection
    This is a normal setting if the computer is on a LAN (Local Area Network). The WinSock DLL will be set to expect a direct connection via the network rather than via a dialer, & entries within the Hosts file will be important here.

    Otherwise, Internet Explorer will always show "Page Cannot Be Displayed" messages, since it can only show pages from the local cache (Temporary Internet Files, containing pages already viewed) if not connected.

    From experience, there is some sequence of actions which people take which switch ie5 to this setting, but I've never yet worked out what that sequence is! Change to one of the other two options if yours is a stand-alone computer.

    Highlight the connection in the Dial-Up Settings box that you wish to investigate & click on the Settings... button alongside:

    Internet Explorer 5 Connections Page
    At right is a screen shot of the settings for a specific connection in ie5.

    Automatic configuration
    Freeserve uses neither setting within this section. You will need to check with your ISP to discover it's settings.

    An example of an automatic script is a .pac file - see Q209266 (use of JavaScript & JScript).

    I think that a tick in Automatically detect settings makes use of the hosts file (found in C:\Windows on my system), but do not have any definite info - can anyone help out?

    Dial-up settings
    These are identical to DUN.

    Click on the Advanced... button alongside the Proxy server section:

    Internet Explorer 5 Connection Settings Page
    At right is a screen shot of the Proxy server settings for a specific Freeserve connection in ie5, & for all connections in ie4 preset by Freeserve.

    Proxy servers
    Freeserve forces all connections through a proxy server on port 8080 whether set in Internet Explorer or not. Thus, Freeserve communications are quicker if the connection is set to use the proxy. The addresses at right are correct for Freeserve. You will need to check with your ISP to discover it's settings.

    You will note that the boxes are too small to show the FQDN for the Freeserve cache-server. Do check that the whole of the FQDN is in the box - programs such as First Aid have been reported to truncate the FQDN to the same size as the box, corrupting them in the process.

    Proxy servers are useful for ISP's from both a security, management & financial point of view, and useful for subscribers in the potential for increased download speeds. As the FQDN name at right suggests, internet accesses can be cached on the server. This allows future requests for the same files to be supplied from the cache rather than having to make another, possibly international, file transfer.

    Internet Explorer 4/5 Proxy Server Settings Page

    Having checked that Internet Explorer's connection properties are OK, and that the Proxy Server settings in particular are correct, we now need to check for possible corruption in the files governing the TCP/IP protocol. This is done by 'pinging' the local host (your machine). Checking for TCP/IP File Corruption


    Transmission Control Protocol / Internet Protocol

    In a sense, TCP/IP is the Internet.

    It is an open (non-proprietory) file-transport protocol, used for communications throughout the Internet, & has become so completely accepted that it is being adopted for all network use.

    As a simple view, all communication information is broken down into smaller packets of data. These packets are "wrapped up" by TCP/IP, which, in the sense of a postal parcel, describes where they have to go & who they are for. They are then delivered to the other end by any means possible. The receiving end unwraps them & puts them back together. Any undelivered packets are re-requested.

    First, open an MS-DOS prompt:
      click on the Start button
      choose Programs
      choose MS-DOS Prompt
    You will see the DOS box as at right
      enter ping
      and press the <Enter> key
    A successful response is as right (go here). 4 x "No Response" replies means that the TCP/IP files are corrupted, & they will need re-installing., by the way, is the universal IP address for the Local Host - your machine, if a stand-alone computer.
    Pinging the Local Host
    Replacing bad files is easy if yours is an IEAK-installed ISP like Freeserve, but could be damn tedious if not.

    The first step is to go to Network. If there is only one copy of TCP/IP here - breathe a sigh of relief. If there are many copies - ah well.

    The idea is to delete all copies of TCP/IP (press "OK" & restart the computer after file copying), then reinstall (see Manual Network Reinstallation) (with a slight difference from normal practice - see right).

    Now, Freeserve works fine with the default values that the TCP/IP protocol has when first installed - hopefully your ISP will be the same, but ask if unsure. The problem comes if you have other adapters within Network... the only way to be sure is to write down all the properties under the TCP/IP bound to the adapter before removing (at least 10, maybe more), then re-configure after reinstalling. Perhaps you should have a word with the Network Administrator? You are the Network Administrator? Ah dear.

    Replacing Corrupted TCP/IP Files


    Multiple Adapters
    With more than one adapter in Network, each protocol will be shown bound to a specific adapter, like this:
      TCP/IP->Dial-Up Adapter
    (this does not occur if there is only one adapter).

    If there are two or more instances of TCP/IP bound to the same adapter you have found a potential problem. Make sure after reinstallation that there is only one instance of TCP/IP bound to each Adapter.

    A slight difference from normal practice:
    When installing Windows' system files, it is typical for a message to appear warning that the file about to be copied is older than the one on disc, & asking if you want to skip this file.

    The standard advice is to answer "Yes" & skip the file. In this case, however, we actively want all TCP/IP files to be replaced, so answer "No" and replace the file.

    If you have worked through everything written above, & have reached this point and still cannot get any pages to show in Internet Explorer I would think that you are beginning to be a touch tetchy! Well, welcome to the wonderful world of Windows.

    In this short section we shall find whether it is actually your ISP's fault/problem with their DNS (Domain Name Service) Server (see right). In order to check for this it will be necessary for those using a Proxy Server to either disable the proxy, or to substitute the FQDN proxy name with it's IP address.

    Connect to your ISP & start Internet Explorer. Now try to connect to a site by using:

    First, the Fully Qualified Domain Name [FQDN]
    Second, the Internet Protocol [IP] address

    Two examples to try (Freeserve & Microsoft - don't try the proxy server or pop server) are given near the bottom of the box at right.

    If Internet Explorer will connect using the IP address, but not using the FQDN, this suggests a possible ISP DNS Server problem. A double-check is to use Windows Find to search for a file called Hosts on the drive containing the Windows system files. If this only contains an entry for the local host (e.g. " Localhost") then contact your ISP.

    Hosts file: please note that, AFAIK, this file is only used in circumstances where Internet Explorer is set to "Never Dial a Connection".

    DNS Server Problems


    Domain Name Service (DNS) Servers
    DNS servers have appeared because of two facts:

    1 Each Host on the Internet is allotted a unique 32-bit number, known as its Internet Protocol (IP) address.

    2 Most humans remember names better than they do numbers, whereas computers talk in numbers. For web addresses these names are known as the Fully Qualified Domain Name (FQDN).

    Thus, a DNS server is a vast database, consisting of pairs of twinned names & numbers, and allow a FQDN to be entered and a lookup-function performed which returns the IP address. As a further service to number-challenged humans, who for some reason are unable to deal with 32-digit binary numbers, the numbers are expressed as a quartet of 8-bit numbers in decimal format (0 to 255). Four examples follow:

    Freeserve: (ping disabled)
    Microsoft: (ping disabled)
    Freeserve Proxy Server: (ping enabled)
    Freeserve POP Server: (ping enabled)

    This is the one that fixed it for Wayne Kading Missing/Multiple/Corrupted WinSock Files


    To review the situation now, in the midst of this marathon, review the box at right:

    Now, whilst still connected, ping both a FQDN & IP address (see bottom of box at right above).

    If the IP address gives a positive result then go here as this result suggests a corrupted WinSock2 registry key, else negative results suggest a problem with the winSock files on the hard disc.

    The situation to date...
    Search within My Computer using Windows Find for the files as at right. What is particularly being looked for is:
    • multiple files
    • files in the wrong folder
    • files with the wrong size or date
    WinSock Files - Folders
    winsock.dll - Windows
    wsock.vxd - Windows\System
    wsock32.dll - Windows\System
    The simplest way is to rename all existing files (see right) then extract new files into the correct folders from the Windows Cabinet files. A listing of file sizes, dates, cab file locations & the relevant Microsoft support site article listing disk file contents follows below.

    Windows 95 The sheer variety of file sizes in the listing below will indicate the efforts that Microsoft has made to improve communications in Windows95. This is complicated by two sets of upgrades - DUN 1.3 & WinSock 2.2 - the second of which (maybe both) backs up the previous winSock files. Wayne Kading fixed his problem by reinstalling WinSock 2.2, but cautious individuals & support professionals (like me!) will need to go here and restore the previous file from the backup, then reinstall.

    Renaming Filenames
    As always, there are a number of ways to achieve this:
    • Select the file, go to the File menu & choose Rename
    • Click on the file with the other mouse button, & choose Rename from the context-menu
    • Select the file, then click again on the name (not the icon)
    WinSock Files - Size & Location in Windows 98
    Version File Size Date & Time Location File List
    Windows 98 SE
    winsock.dll 21,504 23 Apr 99 22:22 \Win98\Precopy1.cab Q238664
    wsock32.dll 40,960 23 Apr 99 22:22 \Win98\Precopy1.cab
    winsock.dll 21,504 11 May 98 20:01 \Win98\Precopy1.cab  
    wsock32.dll 40,960 11 May 98 20:01 \Win98\Precopy1.cab
    winsock.dll 21,504 11 May 98 20:01 \Win98\Precopy1.cab Q188428
    wsock32.dll 40,960 11 May 98 20:01 \Win98\Precopy1.cab
    DMF Floppy Discs
    winsock.dll 21,504 01 May 98 20:01 Disk 2\Precopy2.cab Q191054
    wsock32.dll 40,960 01 May 98 20:01 Disk 2\Precopy2.cab

    WinSock Files - Size & Location in Windows 95
    Version File Size Date & Time Location File List
    DUN 1.3 Upgrade winsock.dll 2,368 14 Aug 98 16:12 IPOSR2.cab Q194477
    winsock.dll 42,080 14 Aug 98 16:11 IPWIN95.cab
    winsock.dll 42,480 14 Aug 98 16:12 MSTCPIP.cab
    wsock32.dll 66,560 14 Aug 98 16:12 IPOSR2.cab
    wsock32.dll 66,560 14 Aug 98 16:11 IPWIN95.cab
    wsock32.dll 66,560 14 Aug 98 16:12 MSTCPIP.cab
    wsock.vxd n/a n/a n/a
    WinSock 2.0 Upgrade winsock.dll 19,040 06 Jun 97 14:46 n/a Q177719
    wsock32.dll 35,328 06 Jun 97 14:46 n/a
    wsock.vxd 15,523 06 Jun 97 14:46 n/a
    wsock2.vxd 23,733 06 Jun 97 14:46 n/a
    OEM Service Pack 2
    4.00.950 B
    winsock.dll 42,368 24 Aug 96 11:11 \Win95\Win95_18.cab  
    wsock32.dll 66,560 24 Aug 96 11:11 \Win95\Win95_18.cab
    wsock.vxd 15,523 24 Aug 96 11:11 \Win95\Win95_19.cab
    Service Pack 1
    CD-ROM 10 Sep 96
    4.00.950 A
    winsock.dll n/a n/a n/a Q150440
    wsock32.dll 66,560 31 Dec 95 09:50 \Drivers\Modem\Unimodv
    wsock.vxd 15,522 31 Dec 95 09:50 \Drivers\Modem\Unimodv
    winsock.dll 42,080 11 Jul 95 09:50 \Win95\Win95_11.cab Q135539
    wsock32.dll 66,560 11 Jul 95 09:50 \Win95\Win95_11.cab
    wsock.vxd 15,522 11 Jul 95 09:50 \Win95\Win95_12.cab
    DMF Floppy Discs
    winsock.dll 42,080 11 Jul 95 09:50 Disk 12\Win95_12.cab Q135543
    wsock32.dll 66,560 11 Jul 95 09:50 Disk 12\Win95_12.cab
    wsock.vxd 15,522 11 Jul 95 09:50 Disk 13\Win95_13.cab
    Non-DMF Floppy Discs
    winsock.dll 42,080 11 Jul 95 09:50 Disk 19\Win95_19.cab Q141603
    wsock32.dll 66,560 11 Jul 95 09:50 Disk 19\Win95_19.cab
    wsock.vxd 15,522 11 Jul 95 09:50 Disk 20\Win95_20.cab

    At this final stage, all the steps in the previous section have been carried out & it has been discovered that an IP address can be successfully pinged whereas Internet Explorer still stubbornly refuses to show a page. Now, as long as there is not some extremely-esoteric error with your ISP, this means that the Winsock2 key within the Registry is corrupted (rather than corrupted WinSock files on disc as with an unsuccessful ping result).

    Disconnect from your ISP & close down all open programs. Windows 98 users can go right ahead here, but Windows 95 users may have a further hurdle to jump.

    Corrupted WinSock2 Registry Key
    If you have upgraded DUN or WinSock (see right) you may need to run a batch file from DOS...

    Search within My Computer using Windows Find for ws2bakup.bat . If not found, skip over the next bit, otherwise:

    • Restart the computer
    • bring up the Windows 95 Startup Menu
      (when "Starting Windows 95" appears, press the F8 key)
    • choose Command Prompt Only then type:
        cd windows<ENTER>
        cd ws2backup<ENTER>

        (<ENTER> is the "Enter" key)

    • when everything has finished, press <CTRL>+<ALT>+<DEL> (all 3 keys at the same time) to restart the computer
    Uninstalling Win95 Upgrade Files
    Microsoft has provided two files for win95 users that will upgrade their communications sub-system to the same level as win98 users. These files are:
      DUN 1.3
    (both available for download from this site).

    What follows now is my educated surmise, as I cannot find any specific info on this matter.

    WinSock2 - and possibly DUN 1.3 also - makes a backup of the previous files in a folder called ws2backup with a batch file provided for restoring the previous configuration. This batch file needs running before uninstalling DUN or exporting & deleting the WinSock2 registry key.

    The fix for this is to:
    • 1 Export & delete the WinSock2 registry key (see right)
    • 2 Uninstall & reinstall DUN, making sure that TCP/IP is removed & reinstalled at the same time
    • 3 (if Win95) reinstall the DUN 1.3 and/or the WinSock2 upgrades, if you have them.
    Export/Deleting a Corrupted WinSock2 Registry Key
    Use the Registry Editor to find the WinSock2 registry key. This is located at:
    Export this key, then delete it.

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