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Network connectivity delayed after login

Dell / Mxc051
July 8, 2010 at 20:11:09
Specs: Microsoft Windows XP Professional, 1.7GHz P-M 740 / 2GB DDR2-667
The problem:

After logging in to my user account, the network connection icons in the tray (both wifi and wired ethernet) do not appear for quite some time (between 1 and 4 minutes, it varies). The connections are not usable until the icons show up.

Opening the Network Connections folder sort of kick-starts the icons to show up. The folder won't open until the icons show up, but attempting to open the folder causes the icons to show up more quickly than just waiting doing nothing.

This is a clean Windows install and it has happened twice in a row (two Windows installs).

After I installed all drivers, but before installing any Windows updates, the problem did not exist. Install media is a Dell XP SP3 disk.

After all updates were installed, the problem began. Again, this is identical behaviour from two clean installs. I'm inclined to believe this is caused by an update but I don't know which.

Anyone have any ideas? Ignoring the likely correlation to updates, what other potential causes are there?

During the delay before the icons show up, CPU usage is low or none, and the hard drive indicator light is not showing activity. Opening My Computer or Windows Media Player or whatever happens instantly so the system isn't tied up doing something.

Any help would be appreciated.

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July 8, 2010 at 20:36:36
Try disabling the wifi and then start the computer to see if just using the ethernet speeds things up. Have you done a Winows update using the custom setting to see if there are any newer hardware drivers for the wifi and ethernet for your Dell? Also for wifi are you using XP or the wifi card's software to control it?

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July 8, 2010 at 20:48:14
There is no physical switch for my wifi, it is software controlled (gotta be running to disable it). That said, disabling then rebooting sees no difference.

I'm using the newest drivers for all hardware (and Windows update makes no suggestions).

Using the Windows connection manager, the connection is not usable until the icon shows up. Using Intel's software, however, it will connect and is usable within seconds of log in. The Windows icon is still not visible until after a delay however. I'm content to use the Intel software seeing as it offers a couple performance benefits, but the problem still bugs me knowing that something "isn't quite right".

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