If you are suffering from an issue that causes your network connection to drop out when your computer idles then you have come to the right place.I have been using Dell notebooks for many years, and one little trick that I picked up quite some time back relates to the drivers for network cards on Dell Laptops.
Most commonly I have found this issue with the Intel 82567LM Gigabit Ethernet adapter however it is entirely possible that it affects other models too.
What Causes It:
This behaviour is actually a “feature” of the driver and is designed to drop it from 1 gigabit to 100 megabit mode which in turn saves power (on the assumption that you do not need 1Gbps of throughput while you aren’t physically at the machine). I have only ever experienced this with the Intel Gigabit cards (Intel 82567LM) but it may happen with others as well.
How to stop it from happening:
You will need to get a new driver directly from the manufacturer. As I mentioned I have only ever experienced it with the Intel ethernet interface so if you pop over to the Intel Download Center you can grab the drivers from there (if you are having problems specifically with the Intel 82567LM click here to get the latest drivers).
When you have installed the new driver go into the Device Manager and select the network card. Open up the properties panel and select the Power Management Tab, then uncheck the “Reduce Speed during System Idle” checkbox and you should be sweet.
Why you have to get a new driver:
Dell in their infinite wisdom decided that with all the network interface drivers they put out they will automatically enable the above setting and REMOVE the ability for you to change it. Therefore in order to gain the functionality to change the setting you have to use the manufacturer driver not the Dell OEM version.
I have been using this little workaround for at LEAST the last five odd years and have yet to have an issue with using teh Manufacturer Driver over the Dell Driver.
Hopefully this will help someone else out when they run into this frustration.