I recently bought a couple a HomePlug adapters to see if they would get me a more stable network connection over wifi. However, as soon as I connected them and fired up my PC I started getting all sorts of network trouble. DHCP would work, but DNS wouldn’t, leaving me unable to surf the web. I now turns out that all this was due to driver issues with the onboard network adapter on my Asus motherboard. This ‘Attansic’ or ‘Atheros’ adapter has apparently been causing issues for many people.
The DNS trouble happened with the driver that was supplied on the CD that came with my motherboard. This could be an error specific to the combination of this NIC and the HomePlug adapters, but I was unable to connect properly without updating the driver. Once I did this (through Windows Update), Vista would boot very very slowly. I would take half an hour or more to boot, if at all. This turns out to be a common problem. Many people have reported similar behavior in forums.
Undoing the driver update by going back to a previous ‘restore point’ would allow me to boot properly, but without a working network connection. This is when I came across a very simple solution that worked for me. First you install the new driver. Then you shut down the computer. Once it’s off you either switch off the power supply or disconnect it from the mains for a few seconds. That’s all. After that my PC booted OK with the new driver and HomePlug turned out to be pretty cool. Stable and noticably faster than 802.11g.
EDIT: It appears I’ll have to repeat these steps every time I ‘cold boot’ my PC… grrr…