WARNING: Technical content ahead! (My apologies for not including this statement in other recent posts!)
As you have probably figured out by now, I get asked to work on people's computers pretty often. I had one yesterday that was giving me fits. It was a Vista-based machine that would not connect to the network - any network. So, I did some troubleshooting, eventually giving the machine a static IP address because it would not pick one up through DHCP.
Even an assigned address did not work. During a PING test, the machine kept reporting "General Failure." That has got to be one of the most useless messages I've seen in a while. Naturally, I fire up Google on a working machine and poke around for a bit.
One suggestion had to do with repairing Norton Internet Security on a machine. Well, this computer did not have that, but did have references to something called "Norton 360." I tired uninstalling it, repairing it, you name it. More errors. I did a System Restore to about a week ago and while that didn't fix the network problem, it did let me re-install Norton 360. Once that was done, everything ran smoothly again.
There is obviously something happening between Symantec (Norton) products and Vista's networking! I just got lucky in that the Norton 360 installation file was still available to me on the mahcine. Otherwise, I would have had to back up data and reformat the hard drive back to factory specs.
So, if you encounter a "General Failure" when you try to run a PING test, or you have trouble getting connected at all, you may want to check to see if you have a Symantec product on your machine. If you do, try re-installing it (or even better UNinstalling!).