My network looses internet connection periodically... what is the best way to set it up?

I have 3 workstations, 1 server and a couple of printers on a network.  I'm running SBS 2003 on the server and windows xp pro on the workstations.  The internet connection is DSL, the DSL router connects to my switch, and all the workstations and the server are plugged into the switch.  I have DHCP turned two of the workstation while the IP Address is hard coded on the server and one of the other workstations.

The server's IP Address is 192.168.1.101.  The DSL Router's IP Address is 192.168.1.254.  The DSL Router has primary DNS listed as 66.73.20.40.  And a secondary DNS as 206.141.193.55.  I used these two DNS servers when I set up TCP/IP on the server.  

The workstations will automatically use 192.168.1.101 (the server's IP Address) as the primary DNS if DHCP is turned on.  Either way, for the most part, the Internet works just fine.  When I got the call this morning, the internet was not working.  The server was locked (for security), and all I did was login to the server and the Internet came back up.

So, after this long explination, I have a couple questions...
Should I use the Server as the DNS?
Should I use the DSL Router as the DNS on all computers?
If the server is set up as the DNS, does it disconnect when the server is logged off?
Any suggestions on to what I should change to keep the network connected to the internet all the time?

Thanks for your help!!!
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steverguyAsked:
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budchawlaCommented:
My suggestions:
- Use DHCP internally, and use your SBS as your DHCP server.
- For DHCP clients, they should only point to your server 192.168.1.101 for DNS.
- Your SBS server should also (in the TCP/IP properties of the NIC) only have itself as the DNS Server.
- Windows servers come with root hint servers pre-configured - verify that these are present, and you should not need anything else to resolve hostnames on the internet
- you will need to run a couple of tests to figure out what exactly happens when the internet is "down" - first off I would look at the servers logs just to see if there's anything useful there.
- Failing that, the next time the internet is down, try and isolate the problem... is it down for all 3 clients? Can they ping your SBS server (1.101)? Ping the gateway (1.254)? ping an IP on the internet? Ping a hostname internally? Ping a hostname on the internet? use nslookup to see if DNS works? Can the DSL router ping a website?

See if you can narrow down the problem to a particular device or service - DSL router? Server? DNS?
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vishal_impactCommented:
1)The server should be on the primary dns list and your router on secondary dns list.
2)well dns router can be at secondary dns but not on primary as it needs to be server .
3)yes if it has dns setup it will shut off whole network.
In this scenarios
keep your ip address and all automatically defined while your dns details as mentioned above primary and secondary.
never switch off the server if its a dns server  
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steverguyAuthor Commented:
So is logging off the Server the same as switching off? We never turn off the router...
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budchawlaCommented:
Nope, logging off is not switching off - in general you *should* leave a server logged off. Never shut down. And also never turn off your router.

Also, I would NOT recommend using your router as a DNS server...
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CCIE8122Commented:
There is not really any single right way to configure this.  The way you have it configured is fine.  Alternatively, you could have the SBS act as DNS and/or DHCP server (assuming that the server is always powered on).  If you use the SBS as DHCP server, you can specify in the DHCP scope what DNS servers you want to use (option 6).  You can specify the two SBC DNS server address you reference above, or the SBS, or a combination of the two.

To answer your next question, no, the server does not disconnect when it is logged off.  You do, however, want to verify power settings on the server and make sure it isnt going into some power save mode which is cutting it off from the network.

I am not too familiar with SBC DSL, but it doesnt sound like a DSL issue -- it is too coincidental that the internet connection appeared to restore when you logged into the SBS.  I would check the server for power settings first off and then go from there.

kr
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budchawlaCommented:
@ CCIE8122

>> There is not really any single right way to configure this.

Everything I've ever come across about best practice on a network like this (including my own experience) would suggest to me that actually there is a *right* way to do this - this is the one that I recommended. Maybe you have come across situations where this kind of setup has caused problems? Because I certainly have seen setups where making other choices has caused problems...

>> (assuming that the server is always powered on)

Isn't that the whole point of having a server? I can't imagine why you'd be regularly turning a server off?

>> You can specify the two SBC DNS server address you reference above,

That would also go against best practice - it is not a good idea to have your workstations trying to contact public DNS servers directly to resolve names that may or may not be public.

Workstations should ask the SBS server to resolve the hostname, and the SBS server will forward the request to the internet if it cannot resolve the query. You can set up your ISPs DNS servers as "forwarders" within DNS management so the server knows that they can be contacted to resolve queries for other domains.
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vishal_impactCommented:
I would like to clear one advantage of using router as secondary as if on issue of failure of identifying the main default gateway the secondary listing will take your router in action which is more suitable incase
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CCIE8122Commented:
I agree with all of your statements for an enterprise installation.   In an enterprise (even in a small business like mine) environment, in which you have multiple servers, and high availabity of services such as DNS, DHCP, et. al., such that a single failure will not disrupt those services, I agree that best practices is to proxy all outside DNS queries behind the internal servers, and run DHCP on the server.

For a SOHO network with 3 workstations, however, "best practices" really is a little less defined, in my experience, and the OP's problems are a case in point.  The SBC DNS servers are highly available, while SOHO servers are typically not.  If this were my network, I would probably run DHCP on the server (unless the DSL router were a business grade router, rather than the cheap ISP-provided one, in which case it is a toss-up), and I would have the server reference at least one of the SBC servers in the DNS scope option.  I would only reference the SBS server in the scope option if the SBS server had a local DNS domain configured; if not, I would not even bother with DNS on the server.

But again, that is my preference, and I dont think your recommendation is *wrong,* anymore than I think there is a single right answer in this application.

The reason I recommend to use the SBC servers, especially in this application, is that it seems that the SBS is having some issue (I dont believe the DSL connection or the SBC DNS servers are the problem), and removing local DNS resolution would isolate that issue.

kr
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vishal_impactCommented:
I agree with the information provided but on my experience i would still suggest to have secondary preferance to roture address and primary address to server.
thnx
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steverguyAuthor Commented:
Just a few moments ago, I had the Internet disconnect on me.  I pinged the router, and was successfully able to do so.  When I ran IP Config, this is what the server showed:

Ip Address:  192.168.1.101
SN Mask: 255.255.255.0
Gateway:

I type ipconfig /renew, and I reestablished the connection to the router.  Here's the goofy thing.  If I look at my network connections, the default gateway is type in - it's hard coded in!

So why would it show blank?  The DNS on the server is the server...

If I've read everything above correctly, there isn't anything i'm doing specifically wrong... but there might be better ways to do it.  I might ad, we tried to run two NICs in the server, one for the internet, one for the network... the result was really slow upload speeds across the internet.  We couldn't figure out why.  Cutting the one NIC solved that problem.

So I am only using on NIC at the moment.  

I'm beginning to wonder if this is a hardware issue....  
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budchawlaCommented:
@ CCIE8122,

I agree with your comments above - I do however tend to treat small installations in a similar fashion to larger ones for some issues - I would probably still stick to my way anyway because I just don't like the idea of PCs trying to contact public DNS servers for name resolution when the names may be internal. Your point about availability is well taken though.

@ steverguy: I would spend my energy trying to get the SBS server stable... there's no good reason it should go down (in any respect) often enough for this to be an issue for you... if indeed it is the server and not the connection / router...

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budchawlaCommented:
oops, just read your last post steve -  the 2-NIC configuration is only useful if you are using your SBS server as a gateway for the LAN, and I must admit that it's something I never do...

If you want to check if it's hardware related, you can try disabling the current NIC and using the 2nd one instead... to see if that helps... however, it would seem that you're not the first person to have this problem... which is normally a good thing..... :-)

http://mcpmag.com/forums/forum_posts.asp?tid=2994&pn=1
http://search.techrepublic.com.com/search/Default+Gateway+and+IP+Address+and+Subnet+and+network.html
http://www.tech-archive.net/Archive/Windows/microsoft.public.windows.server.sbs/2004-09/4159.html
http://www.experts-exchange.com/OS/Microsoft_Operating_Systems/Server/SBS_Small_Business_Server/Q_22472603.html

Can you post an ipconfig /all to rule out a configuration issue?
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budchawlaCommented:
Oh, and also, did you check the event logs?
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vishal_impactCommented:
ok let me have a look on your network configuration details
can i have your network details if you dont mind
thnx
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steverguyAuthor Commented:
I've tried to close this question, because the problem went away (although i'm not sure why).  I didn't know who to give the points to, because I appreciate your time and trying to help me out.  I realize this question is over a year old - but It's never been closed.

Anyway - thanks for your help!
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