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I have a simple network with a router, a desktop wired to the router and a laptop accessing the router wirelessly. The router is connected to the Internet. For the past three years, my laptop has seen the desktop without a problem, but the desktop cannot see the laptop. During these three years, I have changed laptops, I have changed routers, and I have changed desktops. The problem continues. The laptop can see the desktop, but not vice versa. Originally the laptop had XP Pro, but now it has XP Home. The first desktop had XP Pro, and the new one has Vista. In all cases, I just try to use the network "out of the box." The only tweaks I make are basic ones. The Vista desktop is new and I have only made changes suggested by the Vista help software. Since the laptop sees the desktop without a problem, I have always used the laptop to do all my file moving back and forth, but I would really like to be able to work from my desktop.

The mystery deepened last week with my new Vista desktop. For one day, the desktop suddenly began seeing the laptop! It could even see my old laptop which I gave to my children to use. I was not making any change when this happened, so it is a mystery why this should be. I have not touched the settings since then, but the next day the network connection was gone again (or rather, back to being only one-way), though the desktop can still see the old laptop. But I feel I must be close now, since it did work for one day.

Some things I have tried:

The two computers can ping each other. No problem. But if I type in the laptop's name in the computer search box on the desktop, the laptop is not found.

The laptop works flawlessly in all other wireless environments.

It does not appear to be a firewall problem. I have tried disabling all firewalls on both computers (with Internet off), but this did not make a difference.

I tried installing the LLTD protocols on the XP laptop, but XP refused, saying the protocol was already installed.

The desktop can see the laptop fine if I connect the laptop via a wired connection to the router. But this is not convenient.

I have carefully gone through every suggestion in the Vista help and support. All settings appear to be correct. Please don't suggest simple things like putting both computers in the same workgroup (They are) or setting up folders to share. Remember, the connection works if the laptop has a wired connection.

It cannot be a hardware problem since all hardware, including both computers and the router, have been changed. Dell support will not help since all hardware is working fine.

The laptop is usually only a few feet from the router and has an excellent connection. No trouble pinging.

I have tried many other things over the past three years, but can't think what right now.

And finally, a few details:
The laptop is a ThinkPadT60 using XP Home and the desktop is a Dell Studio 540 using Vista Home Premium. The old laptop (which at this writing the desktop still claims to see, though I have not tested that I can actually use that connection) is a ThinkPadT30 which uses (I believe) XP Pro. The current router is a Netgear 54 Mbps wireless router supplied by Time Warner. The old router was from AT&T (I forget the details, but changing routers did not help). The old desktop was a Dell XPS 400 with XP Pro.
 
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