Shared file or database stopped working? HOSTS may be the quick fix

Did you ever show up one day and one, two or half the computers in the office won’t connect to a share on another computer, server or NAS? Welcome to the wonderful world of technology.
This seems to go in spasms and through different clients. Sometimes it is on a peer-to-peer network, other times it is on a domain. Rarely if ever does it occur on more than one client at a time.
This can happen when backups are to run on an NAS, or to a shared database that has worked fine for years.
What you ten to get is \\sharename not found. Examples are below.

The first things to check are all computers still on the Private network. If it is not, you need to fix that. To check, look in the lower right hand corner of your screen an look for a little monitor icon.

Right-click on it and select “Open Network & Internet Settings”. You should see the status and part of it will let you know if you are on the correct network. If you are on a ‘Public’ network, you need to change that. Here is a good article on how to do that

Before jumping into the other options provided on the World Wide Web, I suggest that you simply change the HOSTS file. This has saved me many an hour of stress, or I have stressed for hours trying to figure the problem and when I edited the HOST file or the magic word “time” solved the error.
A quick word about “time”. I have had this error come and go (self resolve). It may have occurred for one night of backups, or three days and then magically it was fixed. In each case I investigated, it was NOT a Windows Update that caused the error or fixed it. Most of the time you and I don’t have time for this problem to self-heal, you have work to do.

Let’s be real careful of what we do below! The HOST file acts like the DNS server for a computer. In non-geek terms it translates a computer or other network device name to an IP. For example ‘server’ is a to
Most of the time in a peer-to-peer network the DNS is set in your router and it is exclusively for internet searching, not searching for computers in your network.

The HOST file or DNS server allow you to type into a browser and be directed to this web site, you don’t have to know it’s actual address.
Inside your network the same thing occurs. You click on “Network” you should see a list of the computers on your network, by their UNC that is their name. You don’t see their IP addresses. The DNS and or HOST files translate this. You just click on the computer you need access to.

I prefer that the HOST file be use exclusively for your local devices (in your network).
To get to the HOST file navigate to C:\Windows\System32\drivers\etc in that folder is the one you want.

Double-click on “hosts” and when prompted, select to open with Notepad.
Once opened, at the end of the # list, the area may be blank or have information already entered.

Simply go to the bottom of the list, type in the IP address of where you cannot connect to, such as your server or NAS or other computer, hit the tab button on your keyboard and type in the devices name. In our example above I entered for the IP address and ‘Server’ since that is the servers name.
To get the above information (IP address and device name) you need access to the device you can’t access and it MUST have a static IP address. Normally you will already know or have the device name since it is what is failing when you click on it. You may also see it under “Network”.

If you don’t know or have documented the static IP address of the device you are trying to access here is one possible way to get it.
Open the command prompt as an administrator by clicking on your Windows ‘start’ button and typing in ‘cmd’. You can probable click on ‘Run as administrator” or you may need to Right-click on “CMD.exe” and choose “Run as administrator”.

Once the black text box opens, you want to ping the device. Type in ‘ping -a devicename’ and you should get the IP address.

With the needed information, enter it in the HOST file like mentioned above.
When you are finished adding any addresses to the HOST file, you need to properly save it. You MUST do a ‘File / Save As’. Otherwise, you just create a HOST.txt file.
Under the ‘Save as type’ section you must select “All Files *.*

you will get a pop-up warning, select “Yes”

And before hitting “Save” make 100% sure ‘.txt’ is NOT part if the file name. If it is, simply remove it before saving

Now you need to rename the old HOSTS file to HOST_OLD by right-clicking on it and selecting ‘Rename’. Once complete, move the new HOSTS file to its proper location (C:\Windows\System32\drivers\etc). You probably should restart your computer.

That is all there is to it.

If for some strange reason this does not work, there are other options that may work. These steps add to the article so I am going to skip the screenshots and just get to it. If you need screenshots and a deeper how-to, comment below and I will create a separate blog on it.
The primary fix is to ‘flush’ the DNS in your systems memory. To do this open the command prompt in administrator mode, type in “ipconfig /flushdns” then press ‘Enter’. Next type in “ipconfig /registerdns” followed by ‘Enter’ then “ipconfig /release” and “ipconfig /renew”.

If that does not work, check on NIC in “computer management”. Make sure it is seen, has no issues et al. If you need help with that, comment below and I will create a how-to with screenshots.

Until we meet again, have a virus free week.

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