The Mystery of the Windows Static IP That Won’t Stick

Update 10/19/2016 – In Windows 10, Microsoft removed the registry value described below. As such, the steps below do not apply to Windows 10 systems.

One of the interesting things about helping customers at Plugable is that we not only see a wide variety of creative uses of our products, but sometimes we also get to find the root of operating system problems.

Now I know that may sound strange. I have always been ‘that guy’ who wants to get at the true root of a problem if possible. I have spent more hours than I care to admit tracking down seemingly minor glitches in the hopes of never having to be bothered by them again.

That opportunity presented itself again recently and I thought I would share the results as they may be useful to everyone.

Some of the customers who had purchased one of our USB docking stations mentioned they were having trouble setting a static IP address in Windows. They would make the change and although everything appeared to work properly at first, the change would not stick.

That shouldn’t happen with our docks. While a driver for the Ethernet adapter does get loaded, there is nothing special about the driver that would preclude setting a static IP.

I grabbed a random test laptop and was able to duplicate this behavior. I would make the change to the network adapter in the Network Connections area of the Network and Sharing center in Windows 8.1 Pro. Although everything seemed to work fine, the change did not stick. If I went back in the settings for the Ethernet adapter, it would still be set to DHCP.

I removed the dock from the test computer and using the laptop’s built-in Ethernet adapter, I got the same results. Nothing seemed relevant in the Windows logs and no error messages were displayed.

When searching for other reports of a problem like this, the challenge is that the search terms are very general and a lot of other results pop up. However, I did find two links that finally helped me zero in on the solution:

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/937056

The Microsoft Knowledge base article referred to Windows 2000! Some steps mentioned no longer applied to Windows 8.1, but the general description seemed to fit what I was seeing.

So I decided to be daring. I made a backup of the registry (by exporting it) before making any changes and then navigated to the registry key located at HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Network. There I deleted the binary value called Config and restarted. This allowed me to set a static IP address and have the setting maintained as it should be.

I tested this on another machine that had exhibited the behavior and it worked there as well. Feeling confident, I emailed the fix to one of our customers who had run into the issue (with the caveat to backup the registry) and it resolved it for him as well.

Not being content with just finding the fix, I Googled the registry key to see what results I would get. It’s something I like to do to see what comes up when I search for an answer I already know. That led me to only one other result from Microsoft here:

http://blogs.technet.com/b/juanand/archive/2010/01/11/the-case-of-windows-7-network-connections-empty-folder.aspx

This blog post touts a similar fix to solve yet another range of maladies, but it doesn’t actually delve into the details of what this value records. Further searching led me to a book called Windows 2000 Server 24seven by Matthew Strebe (ISBN 978-0782126693). On Page 575 there is a reference to the Network key in general, saying it “Contains keys that create the bindings between network adapters, clients, services and transport protocols”.

There are probably more references out there that may explain what is being stored and more importantly why it can become corrupt and cause so many problems (I’ll keep digging in the hopes of find the true root), but meanwhile I hope this relatively simple fix will help people experiencing similar problems setting static IPs.

47 comments on “The Mystery of the Windows Static IP That Won’t Stick”

  1. Simon Reply

    A million thanks! I have been banging my head against the walls for the past couple of days, trying to find a solution to this problem. You sir are a life saver! Thanks again!
    Simon

    • Bob Boerner Bob Boerner Reply

      Hi Kornel, thanks for letting us know the results and glad we could be of help. One important note to anyone following this thread is that the registry key mentioned in the post has been removed in Windows 10.

      Bob

  2. Rubab Syed Reply

    I am still facing the same problem. Default gateway and DNS server settings get saved but IP address and Subnet don’t. I deleted that registry entry but no use.

      • Ted Batyi Reply

        Thank you so much! I have been experiencing this issue for around 2 years, ever since I connected more than 1 USB to Ethernet adapter (in succession, and using windows 8.1). It was driving me crazy, updating drivers for my doc, and hunting around in settings, to no avail. Not only did this explanation fix my issue, but a corrupted identifier in the registry key listed above makes enough sense to satisfy my curiosity, and explains the frustration I have been having! I love it when a fix is definitive! Thank you again for being “‘that guy’ who wants to get at the true root of a problem.” You have made my day, Sir.

  3. djraffaa Reply

    Hey, I have to thank you , i just have to, after all the discussions without any reference to any possible solution, i read yours and was rejoiced to see you helped me !!

    greetings from Belgium and again thanks a million !

    • Bob Boerner Bob Boerner Reply

      Glad we could help! When I first started researching the behavior I had trouble finding results as the behavior is very hard to define without getting unrelated information. Glad you finally found us though.

  4. Noufal Reply

    Hi, I am facing similar issue with multiple virtual servers (VMWare). There are Win2k3, 2k8 servers. They were actually working with static IP. From today morning they went unreachable and when checked I found all of them are on DHCP and getting APIPA address (Since no free IP in that IP segment). I had to assign static IP addresses to all of them to get back to working state. I have checked the group policy set on the OU, there is nothing wrong. Could not find anything in the servers’ event logs. Could you please tell me what could be the root cause here ? and how can we make sure that it will not happen again?

    Thanks

    • Bob Boerner Bob Boerner Reply

      Given that the static IPs stayed in place after you re-assigned them, it doesn’t seem like the issue you encountered is related to the behavior I describe in my post (as they would never take effect in my scenario) and you are running a very different setup in terms of the virtualized environment and server operating systems.

      Sorry we couldn’t be of more help!

  5. Jp A Reply

    I came here for the network problem, unrelated to Plugable and the fix worked, thanks so much 🙂 (I will have a look at your product while I’m here!)

  6. Sri Vatsa Reply

    You, dear sir are a life saver. I have been banging my head over this for over a week. Im in a hotel and not able to connect to the WIFI here as I was not getting an IP from the DHCP and I was not even able to set a static IP.
    I have tried all the other suggestions out there to reset the tcp stack with netsh , reinstall the drivers etc…
    None of them worked. This one does and now I’m connected. You have saved me a lot of headache. My sincerest of thanks.

    • Bob Boerner Bob Boerner Reply

      Thank you very much for the kind word. You are of course very welcome, and glad we were able to help!

  7. Jack Reply

    Hey Bob, thanks for the fix. Unfortunately, I don’t see a binary value called Config in that directory in the registry. I’m on Windows 10 and my main issue is that my static IP won’t stick and gets replaced with another (unknown) Ip address. Any thoughts on this? Thanks.

    • Bob Boerner Bob Boerner Reply

      Hi Jack,

      Thanks for posting! Microsoft removed that value in Windows 10, so what you are seeing is expected. We haven’t seen the original behavior occur on a Windows 10 system internally, so I’m afraid we don’t have a solution to offer.

      Sorry we couldn’t be of more help!

      Bob

    • Bob Boerner Bob Boerner Reply

      You are very welcome Bernard, and thanks for sharing and letting us know this fix also applies to Windows Server 2012 R2!

  8. Steve Fiore Reply

    Thank you Bob – this fix just worked for me as well! I am running Windows Server 2012R2 :-).

  9. Don MacMurray Reply

    This happens to me in Windows 10:

    Alert me | Edit | Delete | Change type
    Question
    You cannot vote on your own post
    0
    In assigning a static IP address, I use the following:

    10.20.0.72 – ip

    255.255.254.0 – subnet

    10.20.0.9 – gateway

    10.20.0.3 – Primary DNS

    10.20.0.6 – Secondary DNS

    Except for the ip address, these are all the same settings we use for every other computer that uses a static IP address on our network. (Note: if I use the same settings for the wireless adapter, it works.)

    After I save the settings to the NIC adapter and open a command prompt, I type ‘ipconfig’ and get the following:

    169.254.64.80 – ip

    255.255.0.0 – subnet

    10.20.0.9 – gateway

    If I open the properties of IPv4 again, they are still set to what I wanted them to be.

    I have restarted the computer after setting the static IP. All windows updates have been applied. I have updated the NIC drivers to the latest version from the manufacturer’s web site.

    Computer – HP Envy 700-074 upgraded from Windows 7 to Windows 10 but rebuilt after a HDD failure.

    Processor – i5

    Memory – 12gb

    We have set up at least 5 other computers of this brand, model and configuration with static IP addresses and they work fine. This is the only one that has been rebuilt from scratch using a Windows 10 installation disk. The others were upgraded from Windows 7 and have been perfect.

    Any help is appreciated. Thanks.

    • Bob Boerner Bob Boerner Reply

      Hi Don,

      Thanks for posting. The fix I mention in my blog post is not applicable to Windows 10, so while we won’t be able to help directly we can try and point you in the right direction. Given your description of the behavior, I would take one of the working systems you mention and try it in the same physical location as the problem system. If it works, that will help rule out any physical infrastructure issues contributing to the problem.

      The next thing to check would be that another device on the network is not using the same statically assigned IP address. While I wouldn’t typically expect a duplicate on the network to result in a self-assigned address like you are seeing, it doesn’t hurt to double-check.

      Once the infrastructure and a duplicate IP are ruled out, the next step would be to try using a USB to Ethernet adapter with the problem system to see if the behavior changes, as this will help remove the internal Ethernet adapter or it’s associated driver from the equation and let you isolate things further.

      Bob

    • Adam Rohde Reply

      Hi Don,
      Were you ever able to find a solution for this? I’m having the exact same issue. For me it’s strange because for a quite a while it was working great. Not sure what changed, but all of a sudden it exhibits the exact same behavior as you are describing. I imagine there is a similar reg hack to the one Bob described that would fix the problem. Anyways, if you found a solution and don’t mind sharing that would be wonderful! If I find a solution I’ll do that same!

  10. Jim Flood Reply

    Hey Bob,

    I am seeing this on a teamed Intel NIC on a Win Server 2k12 R2 DC. Does this fix apply here?

    • Bob Boerner Bob Boerner Reply

      Hi Jim,

      While we have had one report (see above in the comments) of this fix working on Windows Server 2012, the poster did not mention if the network interface in question was teamed, and we do not test internally on Windows Server platforms so we can’t guarantee it will help or that it won’t make things worse.

      If you elect to try the fix you would do so at your own risk (I would recommend full system state backup first -> https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc770757.aspx ) and you find that it helps we would appreciate the feedback as it will help others in the future.

      Bob

      • Jim Flood Reply

        Bob,

        I do see that Bernard and Steve had success on a Win Server 2k12 R2 box and you can add me to the list. TY!!!! It worked like a charm. An interesting note is that Tier 1 MS engineers had me in a tailspin of Intel drivers and Teaming, certainly not their software. I removed the Team, varied the Team protocol, and installed more drivers than you can shake a stick at. Once again, an extreme note of thanks…..Jim

        • Bob Boerner Bob Boerner Reply

          Hi Jim, Thanks for getting back so quickly with your findings. I am glad the fix helped in your case and appreciate you taking the time to share your results. You are of course very welcome for the help, please have a good day!

      • Didier Reply

        Hello Bob
        Thank you so much for this !
        I though I was getting crazy reading fixed addresses from “ipconfig” while the graphical applet pretending DHCP whichever I went to it.
        My setup is Windows 2012R2, all WinUpdates as of today, with teams made of 10 GbE on fiber from Qlogic (formerly Broadcom) and 1 GbE on copper from Intel. Hardly a hardware bug !
        Unfortunately, the fix you provide did not work in this setup. I though it was, then within seconds all network connections … just vanished. Even “ipconfig” prentended that there was no adapter. A reboot did not have them reappearing.
        Solution I worked was to delete all teaming interfaces from the Server Manager applet and re-create them with different names (added a ‘_’ suffix). Strangely enough, the physical interfaces were listed in the teaming applet but not on the “network and sharing” folder (!).
        This report to thanking you again to reassure me on my mental health any maybe save someone else’s time.

        • Bob Boerner Bob Boerner Reply

          Thanks for posting Didier! While I am sorry the registry fix mentioned in the post did not help in your case, much appreciate you sharing your solution here for the benefit of others. Thanks again!

  11. Juan Reply

    Hi Bob,
    I tried your solution a couple of months ago when I ran into this problem and it worked perfectly. I’m running Windows 8.1 up to date with updates.
    However, it happened again and I’m not having luck this time. The sequence of events is as follows: I ran into a different issue where when trying to access the properties of TCP/IPv4 I was getting the message “In Order To Configure TCP/IP , You Must Install And Enable Network Adapter Error In Windows” . So after googling a solution the popular one seems to be to unistall and reinstall the adapter in device manager. This actually worked and I was able to access the tcp properties but I couldn’t get the static IP to stick anymore. So then is when I applied your solution and here is the puzzling part (that didn’t happened last time). After deleting the entry in the registry and rebooting, now I have 2 identical TCP/IPv4 and v6 entries for the adapter as well as duplicated File and printer sharing and others. I’m able to uninstall all duplicates except of course TCP4 and 6 which windows won’t allow.
    I’ve tried a lot of things even uninstalling completely ALL entries under the network adapters section in the device manager and let PnP reinstall them but the duplicates are still there …. any suggestions on what this might be happening ? Thanks.

    • Bob Boerner Bob Boerner Reply

      Hi Juan,

      Thanks for posting! Given your description of the behavior, it sounds like the Windows installation itself is in some way corrupted. Your approach of trying to uninstall and then reinstall as many of the components as possible would have been my initial recommendation, but given that did not help the only two remaining options would be to ‘refresh’ or ‘reset’ your system using the methods described here:

      https://www.eightforums.com/tutorials/2293-refresh-windows-8-a.html

      https://www.eightforums.com/tutorials/2302-reset-windows-8-a.html

      ** Although it goes without saying, please read all the information provided by above links in terms of what these options will do in terms of removing applications or data from the system, and please be sure to have a verified full system backup before proceeding should things not work as expected **

      Sorry we couldn’t be of more help!

      Bob

      • Juan Reply

        Thanks Bob for your input. What I’ve ended up doing is to reserve the IP in the router instead of locally. I’m not too keen on a refresh since I have a lot of high end applications that would loose the settings and I rather live with this glitch. The IP is now fixed and fits my needs. Thanks again.

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