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Old 8th November 2018, 08:00 AM   #1
GlennB
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Flaky internet connection

This has been happening off and on for the last few months after years of problem-free running. I'd get our wifi router to the shop but the nearest is a long drive so I'll describe what's happening, more in hope than expectation Win10 on all 3 machines. Unfortunately there's nobody nearby to quiz on whether others have the same problem.

It happens to our desktop and laptop PCs equally, so I presume it's the line or the router, maybe the telephone connection or the DSL filter?

The connection has good days and bad. On the good days you wouldn't notice a thing, on the bad days it's a frequent pain in the arse.

Typically it'll stall briefly then revive. No biggie when surfing but a pain if you're streaming something. In this case there's no sign of anything wrong on the internet signal on the taskbar.

Sometimes the connection drops long enough for that icon to indicate 'no internet connection'.

Sometimes a power reset of the router brings it back to life, sometimes not.

Very occasionally all the modem lights will go off, apart from the power light, then we're into the power off/on routine.

Any advice much appreciated
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Old 8th November 2018, 08:21 AM   #2
Hellbound
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We've run into that, but interestingly it only seems to happen to WiFi; the wired connections will stay. Which leans me towards something interfering with our WiFi signal, rather than the actual line connection itself.

Last week I adjusted our WiFi router to turn off the Channel Adjustment feature; I suspect that there may have been temporary drops when the WiFi changed channels. Most modern WiFi routers have this enabled by default. I specifically set ours to the least used channels I could find in our area, and my wife hasn't complained about losing her WoW connection since...so it seems to be working. Only time will tell.

IN any case, do you have an option to connect one system wired and another on wireless? Would be worthwhile to see if it's the connection itself or just the WiFi part that's broken.
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Old 8th November 2018, 08:32 AM   #3
GlennB
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Originally Posted by Hellbound View Post
We've run into that, but interestingly it only seems to happen to WiFi; the wired connections will stay. Which leans me towards something interfering with our WiFi signal, rather than the actual line connection itself.

Last week I adjusted our WiFi router to turn off the Channel Adjustment feature; I suspect that there may have been temporary drops when the WiFi changed channels. Most modern WiFi routers have this enabled by default. I specifically set ours to the least used channels I could find in our area, and my wife hasn't complained about losing her WoW connection since...so it seems to be working. Only time will tell.

IN any case, do you have an option to connect one system wired and another on wireless? Would be worthwhile to see if it's the connection itself or just the WiFi part that's broken.
Sorry, I forgot to mention that the desktop uses the ethernet wired connection
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Old 8th November 2018, 08:59 AM   #4
Hellbound
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Originally Posted by GlennB View Post
Sorry, I forgot to mention that the desktop uses the ethernet wired connection
Ah, and same issue with it? Not a wireless thing, then.

If you're on DSL, it could be the line setting. When you buy a DSL package with a certain speed, there's usually a +/- 20% range that your actual speed can be. For example, when we had a "12MB DSL", the actual transmission speed could be set anywhere between 10Mbps and 16Mbps. The tradeoff is that higher speeds reduce reliability.

Have you checked your DSL modem? Most will have some sort of statistics page that will show your error rates of different error types, and usually your SNR (signal-to-noise ratio). I can't recall the exact names of all the error types right now, but that info can give you a clue if you're running close to the edge of your line or not. It might be worth stepping down your speed a notch or two if it improves reliability, but that's something your provider has to do on their end.
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Old 8th November 2018, 03:40 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Hellbound View Post
Ah, and same issue with it? Not a wireless thing, then.

If you're on DSL, it could be the line setting. When you buy a DSL package with a certain speed, there's usually a +/- 20% range that your actual speed can be. For example, when we had a "12MB DSL", the actual transmission speed could be set anywhere between 10Mbps and 16Mbps. The tradeoff is that higher speeds reduce reliability.

Have you checked your DSL modem? Most will have some sort of statistics page that will show your error rates of different error types, and usually your SNR (signal-to-noise ratio). I can't recall the exact names of all the error types right now, but that info can give you a clue if you're running close to the edge of your line or not. It might be worth stepping down your speed a notch or two if it improves reliability, but that's something your provider has to do on their end.
This. One other way to check this is to see if local devices - your desktop, your phones - can communicate when you have problems. Easiest way of doing this is to copy a large file from, say, the desktop to a laptop. (Standard network admin's tool is called 'ping'; if you need details on using that just ask, you'll get about a dozen people telling you six ways to do it )
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Old 8th November 2018, 04:02 PM   #6
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I had a similar problem with DSL a while ago, and it was simply a bad overhead wire, deteriorated with age. My phone company is pretty good, but it can be a little difficult to pin this kind of thing down.

But in my case, the lights in the DSL modem did not all go off. My system has a DSL modem feeding a separate wireless router, and the network stayed up - only the internet connection failed. Only the internet connection light went off, and I would suspect the modem itself if other lights are going off as well.
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Old 9th November 2018, 12:41 AM   #7
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It died totally last evening, but this morning I had an idea that is working so far (which isn't long), so fingers crossed - we have a little UPS with phone in/out (to protect against lightning strokes on the phone line?) and I routed the main phone line straight to the modem. The internet connection returned straight away, so we're hoping it was a dodgy UPS phone thing.
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Old 9th November 2018, 06:34 AM   #8
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Had a similar-ish problem at my office. I loaded this wifi analyzer and could see lots of interference from various "BYOD" SSIDs which turned out to be from the school buildings near us with BYOD wifis.
That being said, all the lights off would suggest a problem with your DSL connection or the router. Have a look at the router log.
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Old 10th November 2018, 05:37 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by GlennB View Post
It died totally last evening, but this morning I had an idea that is working so far (which isn't long), so fingers crossed - we have a little UPS with phone in/out (to protect against lightning strokes on the phone line?) and I routed the main phone line straight to the modem. The internet connection returned straight away, so we're hoping it was a dodgy UPS phone thing.
From designing and analyzing failures in low voltage surge protection circuits that tells me the metal oxide varistors have almost no life left to give after years of absorbing surges, often surges so small you'd never know they happened. For those technically interested, after absorbing a lot of surges and before they go short circuited, the capacitance of the MOVs increases which will cause high frequency signal loss.

Assuming the UPS still provides good battery backup, I recommend keeping the UPS and adding a separate telephone line (POTS) surge protector to jeep protecting the DSL modem. When I had to do this recently I found that from my preferred suppliers POTS line only surge protectors cost more than combo power strip POTS line protectors so I bought a power strip.
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Old 10th November 2018, 06:58 AM   #10
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Thanks for all the replies, folks. The PC shop tells me that my phone/broadband supplier replaces these modems for free, so now all I have to do is get through the endless muzak on their customer service line
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Old 13th November 2018, 06:12 AM   #11
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Despairing of getting through to a person on the support line I wandered into a shop, aiming just to buy a replacement wifi modem. But they were authorised to hand them out for free and that's exactly what they did. Took about a minute.

Problems all gone away
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Old 13th November 2018, 07:59 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by GlennB View Post
Despairing of getting through to a person on the support line I wandered into a shop, aiming just to buy a replacement wifi modem. But they were authorised to hand them out for free and that's exactly what they did. Took about a minute.

Problems all gone away
Your network seems to fit your needs perfectly well, but if you come up with further issues maybe look into cable. Cable is generally more stable, less affected by EMI, more throughput and better speeds for cheaper.

Might be worth making the leap.
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Old 13th November 2018, 11:03 AM   #13
GlennB
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Originally Posted by plague311 View Post
Your network seems to fit your needs perfectly well, but if you come up with further issues maybe look into cable. Cable is generally more stable, less affected by EMI, more throughput and better speeds for cheaper.

Might be worth making the leap.
Well, we live in an obscure corner of a small Greek hillside village They laid fibre optic down on the main road* and even up to a larger village nearby, but I fear we're stuck with copper for a fair while at least. A goodly car can barely scrape through our lane.

*Which was quite funny. The crew just swanned around with their great groove-cutting machine to take the cable and I happened to drive by a small line of shops just after, to find 3 healthy fountains spurting up by the side of the road. The butcher was out there on the street scrubbing down his chopping blocks
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Old 13th November 2018, 03:42 PM   #14
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That's basically how the phone company here in rural Vermont does it. It's basically a little single-bottom deep plow with a hollow, and a roll of plastic pipe that feeds through the hole. Works pretty well unless you hit something.

We'll never get cable here. Too little population density. It's land line phone or satellite for us.
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