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Old 21st October 2020, 08:40 AM   #1
The Don
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Trying to debug Wi-fi issues

Our setup is as follows. We have fibre to the cabinet which means that there is a fibre connection to a box in the village and then our signal goes over copper and aluminium wires for the last 2 miles or so to our house.

We have a wireless router which was provided by our ISP, one of these:

https://accessories.talktalk.co.uk/p...description/41

On a good day, with a following wind, the router will synch at 10-12 Mbps

Two devices are connected to the router by cable
- my work PC
- a device which provides a 4G signal for the house

There are two wireless networks, with the same name and password. One is 5GHz, the other is 2.4GHz. We have a range of devices, phones, tablets, Firesticks, PCs, TVs, Lightbulbs and so on which connect to the wireless network, maybe 20 in total, maximum 10-12 at any time.

The symptom we have is that several times a day, the broadband slows to a near stop, sometimes for seconds, sometimes for hours. The router does not lose its connection and Citrix sessions do not drop but no device in the house can get any useful bandwidth and we also cannot make phone calls on our mobiles (which are reliant on that signal provider).

This is true for both the devices connected to the WiFi network and my work PC which is directly connected to the router.

In the past, if the problem did not resolve in 10-20 minutes I would reboot the router which almost always meant that we had acceptable (for us) service for a while. Recently the times between reboots have been getting shorter and the frequency and length of issues have been getting worse.

I recently found that by switching off the WiFi when the problem arose, within a couple of seconds my work PC (connected by wire) had a perfectly good broadband connection and then once the WiFi was turned back on, things are fine for a few hours.

This leads me to suspect that *something* is wrong with the WiFi but I'm at a loss to be able to tell what it is. I can see the devices connected to the WiFi network but I cannot see the traffic levels.

As far as I know none of the devices are doing anything much unless we're using them but could there be some contention which is causing the router to get overwhelmed to the extent that wired connections are also blocked.

We're sufficiently remote, and the timing of the problems are such that there's no interference from neighbours' WiFi or attempts from external devices to connect.

Any suggestions for troubleshooting would be most helpful .
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Old 21st October 2020, 09:28 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by The Don View Post
This is true for both the devices connected to the WiFi network and my work PC which is directly connected to the router.
In this case, the most likely explanation is that it is NOT related to the WiFi network as such. But rather that one of your WiFi-connected devices is consuming too much bandwidth from the router. If it were an issue with the WiFi network, your direct-connected devices would not be affected. What you describe is an issue with the router network, most likely caused by one of your WiFi-connected devices.

I recommend the following steps:

1. Change the passwords on both wifi networks. This rules out neighbors getting on your network.

2. Disconnect *all* your devices from WiFi.

3. Add low-bandwidth devices like lightbulbs and stuff onto the low-speed WiFi, and see if the problem returns.

4. Add high-bandwidth devices like streaming devices and cell phones to the high-speed WiFi, one at a time, and see if the problem returns.

If one at a time is too slow a process of elimination, do a binary search: Add half your devices back, see if the problem returns. If it does, remove half the devices and see if the problem returns again. If it doesn't, add the remaining devices, then remove half of them when the problem returns. Use this add/remove half of the devices process to narrow it down to the culprit(s).
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Old 21st October 2020, 09:46 AM   #3
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That sounds like it could be bufferbloat. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bufferbloat . Long story short, if sonething is trying to upload a large file (one of the lightbulbs reporting back to base, for instance), your whole network goes slow.

If you can decrease the size of the buffer in your router and the problem goes away, then this is the cause. Further solutions might be found on this site https://www.bufferbloat.net/projects...t_Bufferbloat/ , but this might involve programs like WireShark and a bit of in-depth analysis.
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Old 21st October 2020, 09:59 AM   #4
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I doubt a wifi-connected lightbulb is moving large files around.
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Old 21st October 2020, 10:05 AM   #5
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Do the neighbors have similar problems? Or is it just you?
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Old 21st October 2020, 10:45 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
I doubt a wifi-connected lightbulb is moving large files around.
Maybe they've been hacked?
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Old 21st October 2020, 10:56 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Trebuchet View Post
Do the neighbors have similar problems? Or is it just you?
No, but for context, our nearest neighbours are several hundred metres away so Thier topology may be significantly different.
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Old 21st October 2020, 10:58 AM   #8
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A few things to suggest : if you're on talktalk try to move to Zen.

Install a wifi analyzer to see if any neighbours are on the same channel. Routers differ in their ability to switch channels. One office I was in the nearby school, split across both sides of the road, had at least 8 BYOD hotspots that drowned the office signals.
My wife and I have both had problems with OneDrive deciding it needed all the bandwidth.

Logon to your router and see if it shows what's using it. I found sleeping iPads could be greedy.
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Old 21st October 2020, 11:03 AM   #9
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My apologies, this humorous analogy has clearly failed to be correctly interpreted. The point is slightly paradoxical. If your upload speed is crappy and something uploads a large file, this can manifest itself as a download bottleneck if there is a large upload buffer.

TheDon - do the periods of instability correspond with known large file uploads? Or are any of your 'smart' devices known for communicating back to their base for any reason?
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Old 21st October 2020, 11:03 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Gord_in_Toronto View Post
Maybe they've been hacked? : eye-poppi
I doubt it.
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Old 21st October 2020, 11:57 AM   #11
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I had a problem some years ago where one of my access ports would become intermittent and transfer rates would slow way down. Very frustrating trying to find it. Eventually I got a spectrum analyzer and it turned out the problem was interference from a motion alarm sensor on my home security system. It also used the public 2.4 gHz spectrum but not WiFi encoding. It created a fairly intense but intermittent beam and killed WiFi when the times synced up with a large transfer. It was their own proprietary system, not using WiFi protocols.

I got the system running smoothly by putting forcing the WiFi channels to settings outside the interference.
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Old 21st October 2020, 11:59 AM   #12
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Re: buffer bloat. I have had this problem. One manifestation of this will be extremely long latency on piges (~2 Seconds for me). This was on an ADSL connection, so upload speeds are somewhere between a glaciers pace and a snails pace. I eventually traced it to cloud backup program on my Dad's computer doing large uploads. I managed pretty well by configuring the backup program to do its uploads only in the wee hours of the morning.
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Old 21st October 2020, 02:44 PM   #13
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This buffer bloat isn't something I've heard about before, it may be the cause of some issues I've had recently. I've been having to upload huge amounts of assets (dozens of files multiple gigabytes in size) all day long.
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Old 21st October 2020, 05:58 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
I doubt it.
Doubt away.

"Many a true word is said in jest."

https://www.trendmicro.com/vinfo/us/...trate-networks
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Old 22nd October 2020, 01:47 AM   #15
The Don
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Originally Posted by cow_cat View Post
My apologies, this humorous analogy has clearly failed to be correctly interpreted. The point is slightly paradoxical. If your upload speed is crappy and something uploads a large file, this can manifest itself as a download bottleneck if there is a large upload buffer.

TheDon - do the periods of instability correspond with known large file uploads? Or are any of your 'smart' devices known for communicating back to their base for any reason?
Good point.

I have noticed this before and so our first point of call when this happens is to make sure that no-one is uploading a large picture, that dropbox isn't synching and so on.

Regarding the smart devices. At the moment they are in a little-used room so they are rarely switched on and hence rarely connected to the network. The slow speed happens regardless of whether they are connected.
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Old 22nd October 2020, 01:58 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by Wudang View Post
A few things to suggest : if you're on talktalk try to move to Zen.
I'll investigate this at the end of my current contract. Last time I talked about moving, no ISP would agree to provide FTTC (despite already having it) so we stayed put.

Originally Posted by Wudang View Post
Install a wifi analyzer to see if any neighbours are on the same channel. Routers differ in their ability to switch channels. One office I was in the nearby school, split across both sides of the road, had at least 8 BYOD hotspots that drowned the office signals.
Unlikely. Our nearest neighbour is several hundred metres away and none of our devices can detect another WiFi network.

Originally Posted by Wudang View Post
My wife and I have both had problems with OneDrive deciding it needed all the bandwidth.
Yes, good point.

Originally Posted by Wudang View Post
Logon to your router and see if it shows what's using it. I found sleeping iPads could be greedy.
As far as I can tell, I can see which devices are connected to the router but there doesn't seem to be a page where I can see the current activity for each one
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Old 22nd October 2020, 02:17 AM   #17
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Nobody has an old TV in the area?

Internet: Old TV caused village broadband outages for 18 months https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-54239180
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Old 22nd October 2020, 05:48 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by Darat View Post
Nobody has an old TV in the area?

Internet: Old TV caused village broadband outages for 18 months https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-54239180


This thread has confirmed what I already suspected, that one or more devices is likely hogging bandwidth. The trouble with an intermittent issue like this is that it may take a while to identify the culprit(s).
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Old 22nd October 2020, 07:58 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by The Don View Post
As far as I can tell, I can see which devices are connected to the router but there doesn't seem to be a page where I can see the current activity for each one

Yeah talktalk and sky provide pretty basic routers.



What you could do is (if possible) set up a whitelist - i.e. specify which devices are allowed to connect, then add devices one by one until the problem appears.

Alternatively change the wifi password and then update 1 device a day (in case it's some scheduled synch or update process).

One ISP (sky I think) we had a problem whenever they decided to refresh my router config which they did a lot. I only found out from the router logs.
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Old 22nd October 2020, 10:26 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by The Don View Post


This thread has confirmed what I already suspected, that one or more devices is likely hogging bandwidth. The trouble with an intermittent issue like this is that it may take a while to identify the culprit(s).
Your router may support logging to see how much data each device is sending or receiving. Might have to be enabled in a management menu in the gui.
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Old 22nd October 2020, 02:05 PM   #21
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I'd second buffer bloat. We ran into this problem a while back.

IN our case, the culprit was Microsoft OneDrive. It was re-enabled on my son's computer during a Windows upgrade. By default, it synchronizes "My Documents" with OneDrive. In our case, my son was playing "Fallout 4" with autosave on. That meant it would create an autosave game file every few minutes. In the \MyDocuments\MyGames\Fallout4\ path.

So OneDrive was trying to upload Fallout 4 saved games constantly, to the point that it couldn't keep up. Killed ALL our bandwidth.

Any sort of synchronization service could be a culprit: Check your smartphones for iCloud or similar services, computers for OneDrive or Dropbox, check for any cloud back-up solutions that are running scheduled uploads, etc.

You should also be able to pull some information from the router itself; most should have some sort of screen to show activity, usually with a "bytes uploaded" and "bytes download" stat for each connected device. Worth checking on there, as well.

If it stops when you turn off the WiFi, then it's definitely a wireless device. You could also try turning off wireless on computers and smart phones one at a time, to identify the device causing the problem at least.
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Old 22nd October 2020, 02:33 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by Hellbound View Post
If it stops when you turn off the WiFi, then it's definitely a wireless device. You could also try turning off wireless on computers and smart phones one at a time, to identify the device causing the problem at least.
You could turn off either the 2.4GHz or 5GHz wifi to quickly narrow it down to half of the devices.
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Old 22nd October 2020, 08:13 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by Jack by the hedge View Post
You could turn off either the 2.4GHz or 5GHz wifi to quickly narrow it down to half of the devices.
Well, assuming it's split 50/50 Still, not a bad idea to narrow the field
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Old 23rd October 2020, 01:09 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by Jack by the hedge View Post
You could turn off either the 2.4GHz or 5GHz wifi to quickly narrow it down to half of the devices.
Originally Posted by Hellbound View Post
Well, assuming it's split 50/50 Still, not a bad idea to narrow the field
I'll need to do a little configuration. At the moment they both have the same name and password so devices can connect to both.
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Old 23rd October 2020, 01:46 AM   #25
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We just had our router replaced (lightning killed the old one) and something's not quite right but I haven't put my finger on what yet. (Stuff like failing to fully load web pages) anyway it had the same name on both wifi frequencies so you couldn't tell what a device was connecting to, so that was about the first thing I changed.
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Old 23rd October 2020, 02:43 AM   #26
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Sample page from the Fritz! router Zen supplied me
https://cdn2.techadvisor.co.uk/cmsda..._interface.png
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Old 23rd October 2020, 03:04 AM   #27
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Looks like I am bloated, been running some of the suggested tests. Have to see what I can do. Probably need to hunt through settings and the like to see if I can schedule the likes of my cloud back-ups to make sure they only run in the middle of the night.

And by the way the TalkTalk router modem “WiFi Hub” as they call it is a very good router, good range, features such as beamforming, dual frequency, channel hopping and so on. I’m back with TalkTalk - I nearly always change when my contract is up - and of all the supplied routers their router performs best in my house (old small Victorian cottage) - with all the other ISPs routers I’ve had to use another router to get the same coverage.
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Old 23rd October 2020, 06:05 AM   #28
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Well it's all moot at the moment. Our broadband is down with a line fault (still have our phone so someone probably disconnected something in the cabinet) and it'll be 3 working days until an engineer can see it.

Good news: I have a 4G hub as backup for this kind of situation
Bad news: The 4G signal here is marginal so there's 1 room where I quite often get 1 bar of signal

Darat, please let me know if you find what you're looking for, we have the same router I'd expect.
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Old 23rd October 2020, 06:19 AM   #29
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Originally Posted by The Don View Post


This thread has confirmed what I already suspected, that one or more devices is likely hogging bandwidth. The trouble with an intermittent issue like this is that it may take a while to identify the culprit(s).
You'll probably need proper diagnostics to check it, monitoring on a per-device basis.
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Old 23rd October 2020, 07:20 AM   #30
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Originally Posted by Gord_in_Toronto View Post
Doubt away.

"Many a true word is said in jest."

https://www.trendmicro.com/vinfo/us/...trate-networks
Researchers. I doubt it's happening to The Don. In fact, I doubt it's happening much at all. Besides, the process described in the article requires only one large file transfer. The Don is describing a repeated event. I agree it's possible some hacker keeps driving out to The Don's place and trying - unsuccessfully - to exploit one of his light bulbs... But I doubt it.

My bet is one of the more powerful computers on the WiFi network - one of the phones or tablets - is doing legitimate but unexpected high-bandwidth stuff at semi-regular intervals. But if The Don is able to rule out all of that, then I think we should probably return to your hackers in the light bulbs idea.
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Old 23rd October 2020, 08:29 AM   #31
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
Researchers. I doubt it's happening to The Don. In fact, I doubt it's happening much at all. Besides, the process described in the article requires only one large file transfer. The Don is describing a repeated event. I agree it's possible some hacker keeps driving out to The Don's place and trying - unsuccessfully - to exploit one of his light bulbs... But I doubt it.

My bet is one of the more powerful computers on the WiFi network - one of the phones or tablets - is doing legitimate but unexpected high-bandwidth stuff at semi-regular intervals. But if The Don is able to rule out all of that, then I think we should probably return to your hackers in the light bulbs idea.
I'm attending a "Cyber Tech & Risk Virtual Event - IoT Security" next Wednesday. I'll let you know what the experts think.
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Old 23rd October 2020, 10:55 PM   #32
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Could be the "free" router provided is cheap and useless.

For years I have bypassed the supplied one and provided my own, higher quality one.

They can provide traffic monitoring, QOS priority, better antenna and MIMO.
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Old 24th October 2020, 01:37 AM   #33
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Doesn't matter how good or bad the router is if there's no broadband service. Seems like it was a Talktalk issue because the village Facebook group was full of people complaining about no Talktalk internet.

We now have broadband back again but although the router synched at 11Mbps, at the moment with all Wi-Fi off and my laptop connected by cable, I'm getting around 1Mbps after an initial quick period.

I suspect that there's some kind of traffic management in play.

A Talktalk engineer is due on Monday morning.
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Old 24th October 2020, 05:16 AM   #34
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So far, The Don, all you're giving me is talktalk.
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Old 24th October 2020, 08:46 AM   #35
William Parcher
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Break it down can't you see she's
Dum the dum dum girl
The dum dum girl
The dum dum girl.
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Old 26th October 2020, 05:13 AM   #36
The Don
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Engineer visit was cancelled without informing me

Apparently everything is fine, so no need for a visit BUT they cannot book another visit from a Talktalk engineer because there is a problem with the exchange that OpenReach are working on.

Both of these things cannot be true at the same time.

My neighbours, who aren't Talktalk customers are fine.

Talktalk customers in the village are reporting similar issues so it seems to be Talktalk specific.
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Old 11th November 2020, 08:04 AM   #37
Darat
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Took my time to get back about this as I’ve spent sometime to objectively measure stuff. I was suffering from being bloated. I’ve rearranged when certain services can run, so now I only have Google Drive and One Drive that can do back-ups and syncs during the day. And whilst I’ll get some periods of shonky service during the day it’s hugely improved. As a household we do still have some issues as the system used by my partner to work from home (VPN and virtual desktop sessions) will apparently randomly send out gigabytes of data and no one from their IT department knows why but have confirmed it happens.

I think the only way to solve that would be to get a different router but with my rearranging my stuff it’s not really a major problem now.
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