Communities

Writing
Writing
Codidact Meta
Codidact Meta
The Great Outdoors
The Great Outdoors
Photography & Video
Photography & Video
Scientific Speculation
Scientific Speculation
Cooking
Cooking
Electrical Engineering
Electrical Engineering
Judaism
Judaism
Languages & Linguistics
Languages & Linguistics
Software Development
Software Development
Mathematics
Mathematics
Christianity
Christianity
Code Golf
Code Golf
Music
Music
Physics
Physics
Linux Systems
Linux Systems
Power Users
Power Users

Dashboard
Notifications
Mark all as read
Q&A

How do I debug this problem with a laptop sometimes not seeing some dock connections?

+1
−0

I have an HP ZBook laptop running Windows 10. This is a work machine with a corporate-controlled OS image, but I have some admin rights on the machine.[1] The machine was issued to me about 20 months ago and the Windows specific version is 1703.

I use this laptop with an HP docking station (also corporate-issued). The docking station has an attached monitor which in turn has USB keyboard and mouse attached to it, and also has an Ethernet cable. The laptop itself does not have an Ethernet jack, so I have to either use the dock or use WiFi. (Or, I suppose, get an adapter that I don't currently have.)

I used this setup without issues in the office pre-pandemic, and borrowed another dock (exact same model) to take home last year. For the first several months I used it at home with WiFi, but eventually rearranged things so I could use it with a wired connection.

The problem: Every morning when I boot the laptop (it stays plugged in to the dock all the time), on the first boot the laptop does not see the Ethernet and there's about a 50/50 chance it sees the keyboard and mouse. (It reports the network problem in the form of a red X; it just doesn't respond to the input devices.) However, it sees the monitor just fine -- the image comes up on the external monitor, not the laptop screen, as expected. The only thing that seems to fix it when this happens is to hard-reboot (disconnecting/reconnecting the dock doesn't work). Almost always, on the second boot everything works fine. Occasionally (once every couple weeks, maybe), the second boot is like the first and I have to go to a third. It's never taken more than three. The problem with not seeing the keyboard and mouse predates my switch to Ethernet.

The frequency of this problem has increased; it used to happen maybe once a week, but is now a daily occurrence. Since I have (currently) one dock and one laptop, I can't easily swap something out to narrow down the problem. I've already swapped in new cables everywhere; no change. I've also tried plugging the keyboard and mouse directly into the dock. None of that produced a noticeable change.

My vision is poor and I find it very challenging to use the laptop without the external monitor. If there are specific things I should check for sans dock I can, but I haven't spent much time poking around in that configuration on my own.

What might be causing the problem? How should I approach further debugging? This smells like a problem with the laptop rather than the dock, but that's just a guess and either way I don't know what to try next.


  1. I don't know how exactly to characterize this. I have admin rights in general; for example I can run shells as admin. However, I'm blocked from making networking-related changes. ↩︎

Why does this post require moderator attention?
You might want to add some details to your flag.
Why should this post be closed?

4 comments

It's very hard to tell what could be the cause. Windows update silently replacing working drivers with broken drivers is one of the most common computer problems nowadays. I'd poke around the net to see if anyone using the same docking station are having similar issues since when the problems started to appear. Lundin‭ about 1 month ago

I had a similar when working in the office, but my laptop had an Ethernet port and I could directly plug in the cable in the laptop (bypass the docking station). If I remember correctly, another option is to install newer drivers (issued by the docker producer), since Windows ones seemed to be the problem. Btw - is there any reason not to use WiFi until you manage to solve the Ethernet issue? Alexei‭ about 1 month ago

@Alexei the wifi is (for reasons I don't yet understand) slow and spotty, despite not being far from the router. Mostly it's fine, but I got tired of video freezing during calls so I eventually ran ethernet. Monica Cellio‭ about 1 month ago

@MonicaCellio‭ I had the same issue when I switched to remote work (had to use the remote desktop). For me, the router was the issue and I had it replaced with a 5G one. Alexei‭ 26 days ago

0 answers

Sign up to answer this question »