SBS Server 2003 network connection NIC unresponsive. Solved!

After several restarts/reboots, a Small Business Server 2003 would not respond to pings, and was holding a network hostage by not servicing DNS requests. When trying to repair the Local Area Connection, the following error occurred: “Windows could not finish repairing the problem because the following  action cannot be completed:
Clearing the ARP cache”

After starting/stopping the Routing and Remote services service, and disabling/enabling the NIC in the Device Manager with no luck, we tried manually clearing the arp cache with the following actions:

Check the ARP table from the command line with the command:

arp -g

See if there are entries, and if so, delete them with the command:

arp -d *

This did not help and what did resolve/solve the issue was the following actions:

  1. Shut down the server (Start -> Shutdown)
  2. Once the server has completely shut down, remove the CAT5 Ethernet cable(s) from the Network Interface Card in the back of the server. Make a note which NIC port(s) the cable(s) are plugged into if there is more than one.
  3. Remove the power cable(s) from the back of the server. With both the power and Ethernet cables unplugged, press the power button on server to flush all electricity from the motherboard and interface cards.
  4. Replace the power and Ethernet cables, and power up/start the server normally. In our case the server began responding to pings and started running normally.
  5. After logging in, check to see that all services have started that are set to Automatic. To do this, go to Start -> Administrative Tools -> Services. Sort services by Startup Type. All of the services with the Startup Type: Automatic should be in the “Started” status (except for some that normally stay stopped like Performance Logs and .NET services).

Hopefully this tip will save you some frustration from wrestling with a non-responsive NIC or hunting down Microsoft hotfix updates.

A final note that if the unresponsive server is your primary DNS/DHCP server, and while it’s down clients are unable to get out to the internet or contact other network resources, you may wish to modify your DHCP client lease settings to include some (external) DNS servers other than your primary DNS/DHCP server.