Installing Vista (AKA More Netgear WG311 Misery)

I managed to get a copy of the 32-bit Windows Vista Business from the MSDN Academic Alliance program through university and, after a RAM and graphics card upgrade, and a lot of moving of files to clear a partition for it, I was ready to install Vista. The installation itself went reasonably quickly. After about half an hour I was choosing desktops and playing with the control panel.

I was disappointed to notice that my initial Windows Experience Index (Microsoft’s measure of how pimped your PC is) was disappointing at 2.2, let down by poor graphics performance, considering I’d just spent about £40 on a new 256MB card from Dabs. Maybe it’s because I’m only running AGP4x, I don’t know. Anyway, Vista told me my system was rated as follows:

Processor (AMD Athlon 2800+): 3.4
RAM (1.5GB @ 266MHz): 3.7
Graphics (256MB eForce 6200): 2.2 4.1* – yay!
Gaming Graphics: 3.0
Primary Hard Disk (Seagate 120GB 7200rpm): 4.4

The first spot of trouble came as I tried to get my wireless connection going. The device manager was reporting my Netgear WG311 v3 present and correct, but it wasn’t picking up my network. Oh dear. Anyone familiar with my previous exploits with this card will probably guess I wasn’t very surprised by this.

I was tempted to see if a restart solved the problem, but instead I downloaded the Vista drivers from Netgear and installed them from my USB stick. No joy. THEN I restarted and it worked fine. The only thing is for some reason I chose to use the Netgear utility instead of Vista’s built-in wireless configuration. Probably not the wisest move ever but I can always redo that later.

Sight & Sound Issues

Anyway the next problem came with the graphics and sound. The system was reporting no audio device installed and my monitor wouldn’t display above 1024×768 without getting stuck in an uncomfortably flickery 60Hz.

Now that I was connected to the internet though, I noticed Vista was downloading updates – including one for my graphics driver. As I’d asked Vista to only download essential updates, it wasn’t downloading the recommended one for my motherboard’s built-in audio, but I ticked a box and it added that to the download.

One restart more and we have lift-off: sound!! But wait.. I increase the resolution back to 1152×864, apply and go into advanced to increase the refresh rate. To my horror, once again only 60Hz is selectable at this higher resolution. I know from XP that my monitor can do better than that, so I tentatively untick the “hide modes that this monitor cannot display” box and crank it up to 75Hz. It works fine. I’m not comfortable with the idea that Vista thinks the monitor can’t handle it for some reason, but I’ll leave it as it is for now.

Fucking Netgear Again!

Now there seem to be problems with the wireless card again, the signal’s dropped and it can’t find any networks! The Netgear config program doesn’t even seem to want to start. Netgear’s PCI Chocolate Teapot strikes again. Let me make this clear; the WG311 v3 is possibly the worst piece of hardware I’ve eve had the misfortune of owning and those responsible for its development at Netgear should be rounded up, publicly flogged, hung, drawn, quartered and fed to ravenous wolves.

Anyway, as I go in to the control panel hunting for the Add/Remove Programs control to remove the Netgear tool, I decide to re-run the “Windows Experience Index” test and it actually comes out worse! Great! The graphics have dropped from 2.2 to 2.1 and the gaming graphics from 3.0 to 2.6. Fuck.

I restart, figuring that when Vista picks up the card again it will re-install the drivers it used when it first recognised the card during the initial install. Sure enough when Vista reboots a message appears saying it’s installing drivers. Then it tells me it failed. Double fuck.

Into device manager and uninstall the card. Restart Vista (again). Back into device manager.

While I’m doing this Vista tries again (and fails again) to install drivers for the card. Now I’m beyond caring. In device manager I view the cards properties and see a message saying “This device cannot start”. What’s one more reboot?

Back into device manager and “This device is working properly”. Oh really? So Mr. Device Manager, explain to me why “Windows Cannot Find Any Networks.”

It’s nearly 4AM and I’m getting pretty hacked off. Back to reinstalling the Netgear drivers.

It’s scant consolation, but it appears I’m not the only one having problems. At least one chap reckons the Marvell drivers (also available zipped) that got my card just about working with XP should do the trick. I try these to no avail. Now Vista refuses to even search for networks! Device manager jumps between “This device is working properly” and “This device cannot start” (code 10?!) from restart to restart. I even tried ‘repairing’ the connection through the by right-clicking the Wi-Fi button in the system tray. This tried to do something (which, I think, involved restarting the driver) but failed whatever it was. Fuck, fuck, FUCK!

Of course, Netgear Support (that’s an oxymoron if ever I heard one) is as useful as ever. The Netgear forums make you jump through I don’t know how many hoops just to register, so there’s so few users to help that it makes registration pointless and they don’t seem to plan on updating their “Beta” drivers any time soon, despite numerous complaints that they just don’t work! Useless fuckers.

At 5AM, still nothing works. I’m giving up and going back to XP until I can get a new wireless card. I think I’ll enjoy smashing that piece of shit into tiny shards when I finally replace it. As another option, any suggestions for alternative uses for the WG311 v3 would be gratefully received. Sadly, ‘paperweight’ is as good as I could come up with.

* – See my Vista Update

Author: nerd.

An experienced IT professional, I used to run a number of small websites and spend a lot of time tinkering with my sites or my PC - back when I had free time.

38 thoughts on “Installing Vista (AKA More Netgear WG311 Misery)”

  1. A week after I posted this, I received my shiny new Belkin wireless card. When I went on the web on my laptop just after removing the shrinkwrap I discovered that Netgear had made new drivers available for the WG311 v3 for the first time in over a year. Yep, you guessed it, the new drivers were Vista compatible. So thanks to Netgear’s new Vista-compatible drivers my PC’s now working fine with Vista (from what I can tell) but I’ve wasted £15 on a wireless card I don’t need.

  2. Oops, I may have spoke to soon. I tried to load Vista again after that (I’m still dual-booting XP until I finish off my university projects) and the WG311 has resumed it’s former ‘fucked’ status. Looks like that Linksys card wasn’t a waste of money after all.

  3. Having the exact same problem with my wg311v3. Constant code 10’s tried everything under the sun no joy. Now using a belkin card too. Funny thing is though, its the original peice of shit I bought which kept dropping the wireless connection on windows XP and i REPLACED with the netgear! baaaah. Netgear have lost a customer

  4. Grrrr NetGear….. you have just made my list….(Hollow threat)

    I have spent a week trying to connect my wireless. I thought it was the ISP delivered router, but when I brought my work laptop home- internet was great, but it ends up it was NetGear’s Fault…

    I am going to go down and grab the Belkin F5D7000- sounds like they are pretty good with Vista!

    Not happy NetGear!

    Good luck nerd & Bobby- and thanks for confirming my fears…

    J

  5. Using the same Netgear card (WG311v3) and constantly getting “code 10’s” after restarts. Its just a matter of luck- works probably about 10% of the time. This means I have to keep my PC running to ensure I can get net access quickly (like not take 30 mins of restarts). This sucks as I have cathodes in it and now my bedroom glows blue at night.

    Netgears card is losing me sleep!

  6. God…this is the worst piece of shit hardware in history. Same Code 10 problem as everyone else above…
    When something like this happens, you search for another driver or alert the supplier and they release a fix but fuck no…Netgear has managed to totally fuck it all up so they can’t even fix it. I’ve got a new slogan for them:

    NetGear: Never Again…

  7. Its the memory problem raising its head again. You can only have 2G in there, any more and it won’t work. Same thing happened with my x-fi card, it only liked 3G or less, now WG311 only like 2G.

    I’m going backwards here…

  8. Oh dear! Wish I’d read all this stuff before I upped the memory on my box from 1g to 3g on the wekeend and the Netgear refused to work. I dropped memory back to 2g, lo and behold, it’s working (altho weirdly not using netgear’s vista drivers!).
    I can’t believe they have pages of posts on their own site telling them of the problem, and they don’t even respond!
    I have a spare old d-Link dwl-g510 in a box – can anyone tell me whether that will work better?

  9. Ian, I’m surprised it appeared when you upgraded your memory. I wonder if that’s a coincidence or not; my system has 1.5GB for whatit’s worth.

    I’m glad you have wireless working, but to be honest I’d give up on Netgear. Have a quick google on your D-Link’s model number to see if there are issues and if not (or you can’t find out) pop it in and see. Do let us know how you get on.

    Thanks for stopping by.

  10. My WG311v3 worked the first time i installed the drivers, but after a restart didn’t function at all. Have 1.5g of ram, but honestly don’t think that’s the cause of the problem as it worked on XP. Marvell drivers don’t work any better than the netgear’s V2.0 “vista compatibles”
    guess i just need another card. bit annoying though.

  11. I wonder if there is any point in a whole bunch of us emailling netgear and complaining about the problems? My WG311v3 has never worked at all, restarts and weird drivers don’t do jack.

  12. Hi Bobby, Nerd and others,

    I have the same fucken problem even upgrade the v2.0 drivers, I have uncountable sleepless days. can anyone give solutions to fix this fucken netgear to work with vista? thanks a lot

  13. I too have suffered many hours pain with the Netgear WG311. I am willing to form angry, torch laden, mob to go scare Netgear into a public confession of releasing the shitest bit of hardware since Apple last made a destined for landfill after 3 months ipod.

    I like one of the above posts used to think it was my router – this card actually brings down my router!!! Crap crap crap. I own two!

    I’m putting it on freecycle now with a health warning.

    Steve

  14. Same problem with wg311v3. It will work once in a while after a boot. Sometimes it will not work even though I get wireless networks available comment, but the computer does not show the card is anywhere in it. I think that the random nature of working may be related to the hub, or what ever you call it, sending out signals to say it is there. If during booting one of these signals arrives at the right time, the adapter is recognized and the system works. Wrong time—no work–get a ’10’ failure.
    I did a 14meg download from netgear and installed it. This never worked.
    I need more detailed help on how to install the Marvell driver. I downloaded but can’ install.

  15. I have two pieces of Netgear WG311v3 Shit!

    One I use with XP which is one room away from my router and it’s for ever dropping out.
    The other is in my media PC which I recently upgraded thinking my network issues where due to the old M/B not handling IRQ’s correctly (too many PCI card installed). After a new motherboard I still get “code 10’s” errors. One in every 20 reboots it works but I can’t workout how it differs. I tried warm reboot, cold reboot, unplugging the power for 30mins and then boot, tried removing netgear’s wifi management tools from startup and run it manually but nothing seems to fix the problem – it’s random.

    This seems to be a common problem with the company – when they have a product that has issues they refuse to fix it or even admit there are issues.
    I wish I had brought another brand – that’s it for me.
    Last netgear product I’m am ever going to buy!

    (If anyone has any tricks to get this thing to work, please let me know)

  16. Got this to work!
    Had same issues as everybody declared. There is a version of the drivers that DOES work.
    The irony – it’s from 2005… 2/22/05 version 3.1.1.5.
    You’ll need to force Vista to install it since it will think it is out of date, after, reboot and presto!
    Note: the card has crap reception. Any solution to that and let me know…

  17. Thanks for the tip YAG. I’ve had a look at the support page but the earliest drivers (marked initial release) are dated: May 16, 2005. This is for the WG311 v3, perhaps you have an earlier version?

    I also noticed that there was a release of new drivers in October 2007 (after I’d already given up) where one of the “new features” listed is “Update Vista driver to improve stability”. If anyone has tested the v3.0 drivers perhaps they could report back how they got on.

  18. I know… The version listed as added Vista support doesn’t work. The version I have DOES. I am happy to share the drivers if you want. I don’t have a place to host the file, so I can email them and then someone can post them somewhere… like… here?

  19. Installed WG311v3 onto Vista Home premium 2GB RAM and worked fine intitally.
    Customer complained they lost connection, when investigated I could not find wireless network
    Downloaded latest drivers from Netgear and it worked after restart.
    Installed Norton IS 2008 wireless disappeard tried re-installing WG311v3 numerous times could never get it back
    I also Installed Norton 2007 when they first had computer in April 07 customer complained of blue screens and found Norton to be partly the culprit. Tried to re-install it and told me Vista does not support this version.
    Had to charge customer for new copy of Norton IS 2008 and will be returning to charge for replacement wireless card.
    I feel stupid for recommending Vista for home multimedia and gaming use going to avoid it like the plague in future.

    YAG, I will host that file on my site if you could send it to damestickel@yahoo.co.uk

  20. Hi Guys,

    I have WinXP, but same problems with the driver, always a code 10 and never made the card getting started.

    What about this v3.1.15 driver. Does it work for XP too. Otherwise I will change to a different card next days.

    If anyone has a running solution or could provide a driver for XP, please send to jansimonsuess@web.de

    thanks
    janst0r

  21. Fucking shit! standing in line thinking Netgear or Linkys, Netgear or Linkys, ahh fuck it Netgear it is. GOD DAMNIT!!! PISSS!!!
    this fucker just wont work.ever.period.
    I ended up smashing the piece of shit with a sledge hammer. my dog enjoyed that. great item to piss on it was.

  22. Having the same problems as everyone else. Netgear support just suggested I try the card in a different machine – really helpful when you’re trying to work at home. Never mind that a quick google turns up loads of people having the same problem, so they must be aware of it. I’m just going to return it to the store and get my money back as it wastes so much time having to go to Device Manager, uninstall drivers, reboot and hope Vista installs it correctly.

  23. I installed the 8335 drivers (without uninstalling the existing netgear software) yesterday. So far, the card has worked each time I switched on or re-booted. It might be too early to say for sure, but I’d have normally had to mess around in device manager by now. The card is now listed as a Marvell Libertas … 8335 but the netgear manager continues to load. Weird combination, but seems to work on Vista Home Premium – if you don’t hear from me again you can assume it’s continued working!
    Ian

  24. Hi – just to update everyone – the card is still working fine since I installed the 8335 drivers.

  25. Finally, Netgear seem to have produced drivers that work for their WG311v3 with (a) vista 32-bit and (b) more than 2gb RAM. Installed new drivers, and extra 1gb of memory today and after a mere six months of waiting, everything seems to be fine. Fantastic customer service Netgear – and thanks for the emails and phone calls you never returned, or for telling me the new drivers were available.

  26. I run XP and Vista on my computer, the Netgear WG311v3 works well on XP but when I switch to Vista you guessed it no network. Like many of you I kept on trying and I found a way of getting the stupid thing to work, this is not a fix, it’s only a bandage solution. I installed the netgear software and drivers, re booted then uninstalled the smart wizard, rebooted again but this time I left the CD in the drive, After Vista started I used vista network and sharing wizard in the control panel to connect. This has worked every time, the only hassel is you have to insert the netgear disk in your driver when starting windows every time.

    Let me know how you all go.

  27. Brand new Dell Optiplex 330s – one running Vista Business and the other XP. All Vista and XP patches current and installed.

    Picked up two nice little Netgear WG311v3. Followed the instructions and installed one on my the XP box first. Perfect, except I don’t really like the Netgear wifi interface program.

    Next I did exactly the same install on the Vista box. Nope. No way. Sorry. Thanks for playing. Drive home safely now.

    Grrr. WTFO? Searched the net.

    I uninstalled all the Netgear items. Pulled the card. Restarted and reinstalled the software only as described in the instructions. Shutdown. Restart. I then ran Windows Update and it found a new Netgear driver from Marvel with release date May, 2007 – V1.0.0.52. Installed the update.

    Shutdown. Install the Netgear card. Restart.

    Same result: Nope. No way. Sorry. Thanks for playing. Drive home safely now.

    The Netgear box clearly says “Works with Windows Vista”. Must be some other version because the card clearly does not work with my version.

    ‘Nuff said.

  28. IT DOENS”T FUCKING WORK. I swear this I hate this stup;id netgear piece of crap and I want to go and kill those netgear fuckers now. where are thehy hiding from.

  29. A little outdated but…

    I’ve been using this card for 3 months now and I don’t understand it when one night, it just stopped working. Did the whole she-bang. Uninstalled, re-installed, rebooted EVERYTHING. It works, sees my router but cant get a connection. Stuck at “scanning…” This is weird since two laptops are working now. But my goddamn pc isnt.

    This sucks. I’m no nerd (aspiring to be one though :P) but this is just fucked up…

    Would appreciate any help other than “buy a new wireless card…”

    🙁

  30. As I learned the hard way, for 4GB+ 32bit machines, you need PAE (Physical Address Extension) enabled for Netgear WG311 drivers to work (and the Code 10 to go away).

    Here’s how:

    *Got IT !!! Working On 4GB Happily !!!*

    I got it working on my machine which has 4GB of ram and 32-bit Windows
    Vista.

    The idea is to use PAE (Physical Address Extension) so that 32 Bit
    Windows can address addresses above 4Gigs of RAM.

    To do it on Windows Vista 32

    1) Open Command Prompt As Administrator

    2) Type this line and hit Enter

    BCDEdit /set PAE forceenable

    To do it on Windows Xp 32

    1) Open “boot.ini” file from your c: (Its Hidden By Default, So, You
    Need To “Show OS Files” In Folder Options.

    2) Add “/PAE” At The End.

    Eg.

    [boot loader]
    timeout=30
    default=multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(2)\WINDOW S
    [operating systems]
    multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(2)\WINDOWS=”Windo ws Xp Professional”
    /fastdetect /PAE

    Thats All, And I Hope Yours Can Work Just As Mine Did.

    ***********************************************

    If You Happen To Screw Up Something You Can Restore Things By:

    Vista 32:

    1) Open Command Prompt As Administrator

    2) Type this line and hit Enter

    BCDEdit /deletevalue PAE

    Windows Xp 32:

    1) Open “boot.ini” file from your c: (Its Hidden By Default, So, You
    Need To “Show OS Files” In Folder Options.

    2) Remove “/PAE” At The End.

    ***********************************************

    (via http://www.vistax64.com/vista-hardware-devices/82317-netgear-wg311v3-dell-system-device-cannot-start-code.html)

  31. Well it might seem I have the only working WG311v3 card, never had a problem ever since I got it.
    Picks up just about every signal on my block and never drops connections.

    I have it in an old Dell Optiplex GX260 running XP.
    Maybe it only works with legacy hardware lol

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