Smokey's Security Weblog

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How to recover a really dead Windows XP (SP2/SP3) TCP/IP stack

About this article

Author/source: Hublerb – Tech Support Guy

– Complete destruction and restoration of dead TCP/IP stack
– Recovery from fatal failure or partial or complete corruption of TCP/IP

Related error messages / occurances

– IP Driver Error Code 2.
– TCP/IP network transport is not installed error message from active sync.
– TCP/IP driver missing from devmgmt.msc showing hidden devices.
– Ipconfig produces immediate failure message.
– An Internal error occured: The request is not supported.
– Unable to query host name.
– The specified device instance handle does not correspond to a present device message regarding DHCP service in services.msc
– Net start tcpip >>> fails with system error 2, The system cannot find the file specified.
– Ping error: Unable to contact IP driver, error code 2.
– Repair Local Area Connection: Failed to query TCP/IP settings of the connection. Cannot proceed.
-TCP/IP Protocol Driver Service Failed To Start, system cannot find the file specified.
– The TCP/IP Protocol Driver service failed to start due to the following error:The system cannot find the file specified.

Failed repair methods

– Netsh int ip reset resetlog.txt >>> no effect
– Non-full reinstall of TCP/IP using only the have disk method. >>> no effect
– Netsh Winsock reset >>> no effect
– Winsockxpfix >>> no effect
– Reinstalling network card >>> no effect


Repair install

1. Insert and boot from your WindowsXP CD
2. At the second R=Repair option, press the R key
3. This will start the repair
4. Press F8 for I Agree at the Licensing Agreement
5. Press R when the directory where WindowsXP is installed is shown. Typically this is C:\WINDOWS
6. It will then check the C: drive and start copying files
7. It will automatically reboot when needed. Keep the CD in the drive.
8. You will then see the graphic part of the repair that is like during a normal install of XP (Collecting Information, Dynamic Update, Preparing Installation, Installing Windows, Finalizing Installation)
9. When prompted, click on the Next button
10. When prompted, enter your XP key
11. Normally you will want to keep the same Workgroup or Domain name
12. The computer will reboot
13. Then you will have the same screens as a normal XP Install
14. Activate if you want (usually a good idea)
15. Register if you want (but not necessary)
16. Finish

Hardcore method when nothing else is working

Step #1

1. Locate the Nettcpip.inf file in %winroot%\inf, and then open the file in Notepad.
2. Locate the [MS_TCPIP.PrimaryInstall] section.
3. Edit the Characteristics = 0xa0 entry and replace 0xa0 with 0x80.
4. Save the file, and then exit Notepad.
5. In Control Panel, double-click Network Connections, right-click Local Area Connection, and then select Properties.
6. On the General tab, click Install, select Protocol, and then click Add.
7. In the Select Network Protocols window, click Have Disk.
8. In the Copy manufacturer’s files from: text box, type c:\windows\inf, and then click OK.
9. Select Internet Protocol (TCP/IP), and then click OK.
Note This step will return you to the Local Area Connection Properties screen, but now the Uninstall button is available.
10. Select Internet Protocol (TCP/IP), click Uninstall, and then click Yes.
11. Restart

Succesfull uninstallation of TCP/IP will remove numerous keys from the registry including:


These represent various interconnected and interdependant services.

For good measure you should delete the following keys before reinstalling TCP/IP in step #2:


Step #2

Reinstall of TCP/IP

Following the above substep #3, replace the 0x80 back to 0xa0, this will eliminate the related “unsigned driver” error that was encountered during the uninstallation phase.

Return to “local area connection”> properties > general tab > install > Protocol > TCP/IP

You may receive an “Extended Error” failure upon trying to reinstall the TCP/IP, this is related to the installer sub-system conflicting with the security database status.

To check the integrity of the security database
esentutl /g c:\windows\security\Database\secedit.sdb

There may be a message saying database is out of date
First try the recovery option
esentutl /r c:\windows\security\Database\secedit.sdb

If this don’t work for you, you needthe repair option
esentutl /p c:\windows\security\Database\secedit.sdb

Rerun the /g option to ensure that integrity is good and database is up to date.

Now return to the “local area network setup”
Choose install > protocol > TCP/IP and try again


Author / Source: Hublerb – Tech Support Guy

July 20, 2008 - Posted by | Advisories, Friends, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. awesome.. had one that was pesky and would not fix no matter what.. did as you stated and it worked..

    Comment by mstbone67a | September 15, 2008 | Reply

  2. Method #2 doesn’t work for me, when I select Protocol and click Add I get a “The system cannot find the file specified.” error.

    Comment by Dan | September 30, 2008 | Reply

  3. I want to say: Thank you very very much. Been struggeling for 2 days with my broken internet connection. Figured out pretty fast that it had something to do with the TCP/IP but couldn’t find a solution. On the windows support page they offer the same solution as you, but for Windows 2000 (not XP) and not with your explanation about “Extended Error” failure and everything following that. Basically, you saved my day. Thanks again.

    Comment by lazylama | October 22, 2008 | Reply

  4. You are welcome, satisfied customers are the best customers (;

    Comment by Smokey | October 22, 2008 | Reply

  5. Thank you so much! This fix (#2) was EXACTLY what I needed to get a friend’s computer back from the dead! They had spy/malware and viruses all over the place (probably should have reloaded, but oh well).

    Thanks again! Great info!

    Comment by Todd | October 27, 2008 | Reply

  6. Thank you, but I tried both fix and everything went ok, but the problem still here, I still can’t get the internet online, is there any other way?

    Comment by Chrys | November 2, 2008 | Reply

  7. Tried the original solution and it did allow me to uninstall TCP/IP – Pretty cool.

    netsh int ip reset resetlog.txt

    netsh winsock reset

    But overall this didn’t fix the problem.

    I knew that the problem was related to one of the Security Updates for Windows XP.

    I identified Security Update for Windows XP (KB917953) as the culprit.

    Use Windows Explorer to navigate to the C:Windows “$NtUninstallKB917953$” folder and use the uninstall utility in the folder.

    Note: I noticed two other folders related:

    “$NtUninstallKB917953$(2)” and


    I did not have to do anything using those in order to fix the problem.

    Comment by Chrys | November 2, 2008 | Reply

  8. Hello Smokey,

    First of all i would like to thank you to find your advice on the internet, which tool me three whole days to comb the net. But i have a problem still. I can’t even see my network adapter.I tried your advice, but it won’t work for me. I can ping the localhost and get reply back from it. But no success either but repairing the window or using the steps u showed above. Is there anything that you can help me pls….i can’t see my local area connection….i am waiting pls drop a line or two…thx a lot

    Comment by Joni | November 4, 2008 | Reply

  9. Nothing works for me
    After updating to SP3, my connection status is cable unplug
    I’ve try several method, nothing works
    fnally, I reinstall XP SP2
    but the problem still there ,,

    Anyone could help ??

    Comment by James | January 3, 2009 | Reply

  10. Thank you very much for sharing this invaluable troubleshooting tip. I was stressing over this error for a few days on and off. I almost gave up hope, but then I came to this page and found the solution. Keep up the good work, it is really appreciated, trust me. I am a tech and I can’t count how many times someone like you make my job a bit easier.

    Comment by Frederick | January 10, 2009 | Reply

  11. Looked promising, but I was disappointed not to see any Network Connections present, so I couldn’t proceed past #1/5.


    Please see the following thread on the big problem I am having:


    Comment by RadAct | February 24, 2009 | Reply

  12. Did everything as mentioned here, which was a great help, but the problem still persisted.

    Guess what? MAC address filtering was enabled on the router and the MAC address was blocked from internet access.

    So double check before going mental. :p

    Comment by MasterOfMessengers | March 13, 2009 | Reply

  13. This described my situation perfectly, and fixed it when no other solution would.

    I went with the Hardcore Method, since I did not want to do a Windows Repair. In my case, I had to perform some of the steps listed more manually since when I first uninstalled TCP/IP, my system crashed with a Blue Screen of Death.

    After rebooting, I checked to see how many of the listed items had actually been removed from HKLM/system/CurrentControlSet/services/ and manually removed those that were still present using regedit.exe, then rebooted before continuing with Step #2.

    Thanks for sharing your insights!

    Comment by Yogi | March 26, 2009 | Reply

  14. The hard core method worked for me, when nothing else in the world could help. Thanks!

    Comment by Gary Boberry | May 20, 2009 | Reply

  15. A BIIIIIG “THANK Y O U” dear man You save my life!!
    🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂
    After spending a day with almost trying all the possible
    soft and repair options You save my life with Yours
    HARDCORE method, couse only this works after cleaning
    all the registry keys affected by ADOBE silently installs
    theirs whole SHITTY bonjour SHIT to my computer,
    making a “bonjour proxy” and no matter what I try the
    TCP/IP does not work and also an Internet connection!
    After carefully cleaning all registry entries with a
    registry editor and Yours truly great help I solve my PC and
    my time to reinstall all once again a week of work!

    Thank You Man,

    With my best warm wishes to You,


    Comment by Cknubb | June 12, 2009 | Reply

  16. I am having trouble with my desktop which has XP installed.It was working ok but after doing a Checkdisc it kept trying to load but never got to the final screen just kept trying to load over and over again,so I rebooted and same thing kept hapening.I am nots able to remember what I done next but I got a message on the screen do not power off I waited for about five minutes or more and as there isplaywas no responce I rebooted and since then the computer will not switch on although I can see by removing the side panel that power is geting to the mother board and the small display on the board is showing 00.Please can you

    Comment by Mr Peter Penfold | June 26, 2009 | Reply

  17. I really appriciated your great help. It completely solved my problem. Thanks very much

    Comment by zed | July 10, 2009 | Reply

  18. May the author of this help-info come in heaven!
    THX a LOT!!

    Comment by Flydawg | July 13, 2009 | Reply

  19. Thank you SOOOOO much for this information. The Hardcore recovery was the only thing that worked to get my work laptop running again. I was pushed some software from my company’s PC Health division, and it completely hosed my TCP/IP stack. I would have had to re-image for certain without your tip. THANKS AGAIN!! A+++

    Comment by Bill Fox | July 20, 2009 | Reply

  20. Thank you for the “Hardcore method” – had this really stubborn XP install, swapped the HD and saved it for some fun.

    To get the XP install going again, I had to copy backup files tcpip.sys and nettcpip.inf from servicepacks on the XP install, using the method exactly as described, did not work.

    Now I can finally format the drive, and put it in use again!


    Network engineer

    Comment by JRH | October 13, 2009 | Reply

  21. THANK YOU for the hardcore method. I spent several hours with AT&T Support to no avail and then found your article. I am using XP Pro SP3 and did not have to do the integrity check. Everything is working fine.

    Comment by NHB | October 23, 2009 | Reply

    • Glad you could solve the problem with our help. 🙂

      Comment by Smokey | October 24, 2009 | Reply

  22. I was backing up data to do the inevitable reinstall on my WinXp SP3 system, when I found this site. I was unable to access the internet on the host OS but the VMs installed were able to connect, without a hitch through the same connection. I suspected a DNS issue but it was down to TCP/IP stack. The reset method did not work. Tried the hardcore method. After the final reboot, a torrent program on the host OS was able to connect for about 10 seconds. No connectivity after that. I get a svchost error when I log in and cannot open any programs. Any help will be appreciated. Thanks!

    Comment by Zakir | January 6, 2010 | Reply

  23. I tried all of the steps you suggested and I still could not get out to the internet. I could ping local servers and access SharePoint but could not get pass the router. I removed all updates from the last auto update and it worked.

    Comment by ASL | January 14, 2010 | Reply

  24. Thanks so much!!!!!!!!!
    Hardcore method #1 and #2 did the trick.
    Thanks again 🙂

    Comment by RPC | January 29, 2010 | Reply

  25. as per above: Hardcore method when nothing else is working step 1 and step 2 did it!!!!!

    You also might want to remind people to make sure their HOSTS file is not stuffed with hacker IP’s/URLS as was the case with my box.

    This took days to fix. Thanks to Hublerb!!!!! VERY VERY KEWL FIX

    Comment by HR | February 15, 2010 | Reply

  26. THANKS!! Tried on 3-31-2010 on pc that would not load internet and would not launch firewall, worked perfect.

    Comment by Bt | April 1, 2010 | Reply

  27. Hardcore Method:On this Easter Sunday 2010–

    Thank you, thank you, thank you.


    The error message this corrected is not in your list:

    It is not possible to disable the connection at this time ….

    Comment by Richard | April 5, 2010 | Reply

  28. You are a hero! Following your clear instructions, 5 minutes was all it took to get tcp-ip back up and running. Many thanks.

    Comment by Jon | April 24, 2010 | Reply

  29. Ii lost all TCP/IP on WinXP after virus scan and removal using AVIRA. I tried your method and it worked perfectly. I am now back on line and everything is working well. Many thanks for your technical savvy and advie for this fix.

    Comment by Rob | May 17, 2010 | Reply

  30. Finally, a solution that worked! I was pulling my hair out!

    Comment by Dave | June 10, 2010 | Reply

  31. Thank you. The “Hardcore Method” worked for me. I had a drive-by “Security” type malware installed, removed w/ malwarebytes then promptly lost internet connectivity w/ IE, FF and Chrome. Ran IE Reset Settings and then had intermittent connectivity–70% of the time I’d have to “refresh” the page ‘cuz of “Cannot Display” page errors or the Stylesheet wouldn’t load.

    Spent 10 minutes using your “Hardcore Method” and now I’m back in the game! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    Comment by Ted | July 31, 2010 | Reply

  32. I couldnt get past the R for repair part as I forgot my Admin password, however, I found the Hardcore simpler and faster.
    Thanks a ton.

    Comment by Kalyan | July 31, 2010 | Reply

  33. Awesome! Thank you very much! It works for me (hardcore + step2).

    Comment by Roncey | August 7, 2010 | Reply

  34. Thank you very much as well!

    After playing with various IP-Configuration my WinXP IP-Stack was completely broken. After reinstalling the Network cards, using “netsh” for ip-reset and winsock-reset and trying out the Winsockxpfix, the DHCP and IP-basics (ping) were working again!

    But host query functions (and DNS-lookup) were still dead at all.

    I tried the hardcore method with the result that the whole IP-Stack was broken again!

    I tried the hardcore methode again, and did additionally uninstall all other network services and network adapters after doing Step #1. After reinstalling, everything was working perfectly!

    Comment by Peter | August 17, 2010 | Reply

  35. Thnx soooooooooo much u saved my life.

    Comment by Abdul Elah Rizan | August 30, 2010 | Reply

  36. Result! Spent whole day looking and trying all sorts. Nothing worked till your Hardcore method – tops, Tops, TOPS!!!

    Comment by WolfWare | September 14, 2010 | Reply

  37. Really great!!

    I already knew a LOT about XP and its bugs .. (used a workaround with manually removing several registry entries and files) but this worked pretty good and simple ! (computer repair center here)

    Comment by Chris | September 22, 2010 | Reply

  38. Thank youuu so muchhh it work like a charmmm..
    this is what i need.. thank you..

    Comment by sapexi | November 14, 2010 | Reply

  39. You sir, are a genius! If I only came across your article earlier.

    Comment by Oliver | December 15, 2010 | Reply

  40. Sir,
    You are perfect at your job. My job is also the same. I Don’t you think you should also start an auto-mailing system? Users will register for your mailing lists and you should e-mail them every new entry in your blog post or a link to that. It will be a more useful idea for increasing the no. of users with you.

    Comment by Abhay Mittal | March 16, 2011 | Reply

    • Thanks for the kind words.

      There are already several ways to subscribe to my weblog so I don’t know what you mean or want.

      Comment by Smokey | March 18, 2011 | Reply

  41. Is formatting and reinstalling C drive or the XP installed drive, will fix Local area connection problem?

    Thanx in advance

    Comment by Mallikkannan | May 16, 2011 | Reply




    Comment by Anit | July 18, 2011 | Reply

  43. Can someone confirm (or deny) that his “hardcore” method it better/worst/different than what Microsoft says *IS* the full uninstall/reinstall/default method:

    > netsh int ip reset resetlog.txt

    Comment by Carol | August 2, 2011 | Reply

  44. Out-freaking-standing. This (the “hardcore” method) has just saved me 5 hours of reinstalling a really big XP installation. I’m sure it will save me and my clients many hours in the future as well.
    Thank you!

    Comment by VailComputerGuy | August 18, 2011 | Reply

  45. I can’t do #1 because I’m on a laptop with a preinstalled XP & MS Office config, so I tried the hardcore method and no difference. When I open the wireless connection light that says I;m connected, and go to the Support tab, it’s blank, with no IP address, no Subnet Mask, and no Default Gateway!

    Comment by Mark | August 21, 2011 | Reply

  46. Thank you very very much
    It is working form me

    Comment by koby Peleg Hen | August 25, 2011 | Reply

  47. Thanks alot, it worked for me. I was on it for 3 hours since I saw your comments
    Thanks again

    Comment by Naysan | November 18, 2011 | Reply

  48. Ahhhh…the wonder of google! Hardcore method worked perfectly to restore internet after infection from the rootkit.zeroaccess virus.

    Thanks so much!

    Comment by Ian Kemp | November 20, 2011 | Reply

  49. A virtual Case of Ale for you !

    Save my Bacon, tcpip.sys injected with rootkit; the excellent TDSSKILLER from Kaspersky identified and removed the rootkit, no worries, though leaving tcpip.sys totally corrupted, tried a large number of resolutions ** prior to arriving here, went directly to “Hardcore Method” – issue resolved, heart rate back to normal, client smiling …”psssssft” “Cheers!”
    ** List of resolution that DID NOT RESOLVE !

    * System Restore
    * copy of known good tcpip.sys from C:\ to %systemroot%\drivers via recovery console (with a checkdisk /p at each stage)
    * sfc /scannow

    Comment by Tech Checkers | November 21, 2011 | Reply

  50. In a single word…. awesome! What had me spend hours trying to fix was quickly resolved in under 5 minutes!! Great job!!

    Comment by AAA | December 3, 2011 | Reply

  51. Unbelievable Fixed a problem I have been working on for 8 hours straight. My client will be very happy I didnt have to reinstall XP and install the 50 or so programs they use. Thanks so much. You’re Awesome.

    Comment by Michael | December 15, 2011 | Reply

    This is a perfect solution. :}

    Comment by JFRREPAIRS | January 8, 2012 | Reply

  53. Hmm… That worked surprisingly well

    I realize this was written in 2008, but if you happen to stop by and read the comments section, thanks a million.

    Comment by James | January 20, 2012 | Reply

  54. Ditto #54 — worked like a champ on one of our company PCs that I was about to bin. THANK YOU!

    Comment by Craig V | January 23, 2012 | Reply

  55. THANK YOU! Method #2 worked like a charm as I didnt have access to method #1.
    You saved my moms friends PC.

    Comment by John | January 25, 2012 | Reply

  56. tcp/ip protocol driver failed to start
    PCONFIG returned an error message
    unable to query host name……….

    we tried
    1. tcp reset
    2 with xp tcp/ip repair
    3 with hardcore method of reinstalling tcp
    it was not successfull


    Comment by 3maj-inis | February 6, 2012 | Reply

  57. thanks, but unfortunately in my case – none of the methods above (I’ve tried them all, including the “hardcore”, SP3 reinstall, etc., didn’t work.
    any OTHER ideas, except a new install of windows?

    Comment by mihai | February 15, 2012 | Reply

  58. update:
    seemed I missed an “ipsec.sys” file – details below
    Unfortunately now I’m stuck in a “acquiring network address” which will not end.
    ipconfig /renew says “the RPC server is unavailable”
    any ideas?
    the computer was infected with malware, cleaned with avast, but with some consequences it seems.

    Comment by mihai | February 15, 2012 | Reply

  59. update 2
    seems i have a lot of services, for example DHCP Client, not started and broken.
    I’ll run sfc /scannow, and hopefully this will fix it.

    Comment by mihai | February 15, 2012 | Reply

  60. Thank you! I’d forgotten about this fix. I also forgot the steps.
    Thank you again!

    Comment by Bob | March 17, 2012 | Reply

  61. Worked perfectly!

    Comment by Bill | March 30, 2012 | Reply

  62. Thank you, thank you and thank you! Thanks to AVG anti-virus, I lost my internet connection! After days of searching for fixes, I’m happy to find your suggestions because it worked. I’ve uninstalled AVG completely and followed your instructions under hardcore method. My system is back in business and I’m connected to the internet again. The firewall is working too.

    Comment by Miss O | April 5, 2012 | Reply

  63. Tried hardcore method but now my computer hangs after booting on “found new hardware Packet Scheduler Miniport.” ctrl/alt/del doesn’t even work. I now have no computer at all. I’m at my wits end. I would be grateful for any help

    Comment by John Preece | April 25, 2012 | Reply

  64. step #1 and #2 worked perfectly! thank you

    Comment by ciaociao | April 26, 2012 | Reply

  65. i have the same problem,i tried all but still i cant activate the uninstall button.and there is a “this driver is not digitally signed!” warning

    Comment by carolin | May 10, 2012 | Reply

  66. Absolutely amazing! Been banging my head on this issue for days! Finally came across this and the Hardcore method worked like a charm! Thanks so much!

    Comment by curtso | June 3, 2012 | Reply

  67. Thanks, it perfectly worked !

    Comment by Lucio | June 5, 2012 | Reply

  68. Thank you very much! Your instructions are quite clear and worked beautifully.

    Comment by CC | June 13, 2012 | Reply

  69. Many thanks! Worked for my XP MerdiaCenter system.

    Comment by Nathan | June 26, 2012 | Reply

  70. Thank you for the clear instructions. My system works great now.

    Comment by mmhedlund | July 15, 2012 | Reply

  71. you are a god.
    i followed your instructions to the letter and…VOILA!
    sign me up for your fan club.

    Comment by d.r.oldham | July 16, 2012 | Reply

  72. Thanks a lot! “Hardcore method” helped me 🙂

    Comment by WiZarD | November 30, 2012 | Reply

  73. Thank you! “Hardcore method” really work!

    Comment by android | December 12, 2012 | Reply

  74. Amazing, method 2 worked perfectly, thanks man…

    Comment by KJM | December 18, 2012 | Reply

  75. Thank you, you saved me from a complete reinstall of Windows! I’ve lost all my connection icons and tcpip response after uninstalling VM VirtualBox. The “Hardcore method” really work!

    Comment by Zevek | January 2, 2013 | Reply

  76. Maybe quote where you got the article from?

    Comment by Brandon | January 3, 2013 | Reply

    • It’s obvious you haven’t read my post with demanded attention, source is mentioned. FWIW it’s NOT Microsoft so I don’t know how you come to your (wrong) suggestion.

      Comment by Smokey | January 3, 2013 | Reply

  77. I was of course originally attracted to this link by the use of the term “hard core” as a heading on the page but was pleased to find that the content was the “real deal” in helping me fix a PC that simply would not talk to the internet. Your advice has instantly elevated me from “old fart next door who still uses XP” to “local PC guru”. Thanks again for some very concise and accurate advice.

    Comment by noddy | February 5, 2013 | Reply

  78. TANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU. 3 days of stress,tryed everything and solved with this method.

    Comment by Erlis | October 16, 2013 | Reply

  79. really so help full after a long try. a lot of heartly thanks bro

    Comment by vijay | October 29, 2013 | Reply

  80. My question on hardcore method: nettcpip.inf is only in two places on my machine:

    Which should I use for repair?

    Comment by Rick | February 23, 2014 | Reply

  81. Can’t get past Hardcore step-1 #9. Uninstalll button is there, but when TCP/IP is selected, it gets disabled. Anyone have a suggestion?

    Comment by Rick | March 9, 2014 | Reply

  82. I spent 4 hours this morning trying to find answers for this problem – unable to connect to internet, though windows says I am connected to the internet, and IP config gives error message. I was beginning to think I should buy a new network card… I am so glad I didn’t! I tried all the repair methods, and finally the ‘hardcore method’ worked! I am so grateful, tyvm XD

    Comment by Tim | August 16, 2014 | Reply

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