NIC Issues after Virtual Hardware Upgrade Server 2003 in VMware

Running the application version of VMware I upgraded from version 1 to version 2 and the overall management features and performance were much better.  The new system reported in the management console that VM hardware for the guest operating system was out of date.  Upgrading seemed like a good idea.  There was a warning that the virtual hardware on the VM guest machines would be upgraded but again I found the performance better so I went for it.

After the upgrade I had new NICs showing up with default settings in all my Windows Server 2003 Guest machines and my previously configured NICs were all gone.  Well, that was not so nice.  But setting up the new virtual hardware wasn’t that bad.  All went well.

Then over time I noticed odd behavior on the network to these servers.  The old cards were somehow still there and occasional address conflicts would result.  Further research brought me to the wonderful world of hidden devices in Windows device manager.  The old cards were still there but helpfully hidden from view.

Procedure to remove no longer needed hidden NIC cards:

  • Open a command prompt on the server.
  • enter: set devmgr_show_nonpresent_devices=1
  • Enter: devmgmt.msc
  • This launches device manager showing hidden drivers enabled.
  • View Menu – Show Hidden Devices
  • Find the old NIC card(s) and delete them

After the old hardware drivers are gone.  All operations returned to normal.

I image this problem might occur in any version of VMware where virtual hardware is upgraded.

Originally Posted June 21, 2009
Last Revised on November 20, 2010