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cpfullerFlag for United States of America

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Network connection dropping intermittently

We have two stores in the same strip mall. In our main store we have our server, firewall/router, and we run cat5 to the other store outside about two doors down. This setup has worked for years until recently. The second store keeps losing its network connection.

SonicWall Firewall (also our router)
Windows SBS 2003
Default Gateway = firewall's IP address
DNS server = firewall's IP address
DHCP server = our win sbs server' IP

Its not the internet itself, because we have internet in our main store. I know its the network connection because the computers in our second store are not getting IP addresses, and cannot ping our main server.

I'm thinking this is either some configuration not working properly, or a physical connection problem (ie, the cable). It happened first monday, came back and happened again tuesday, came back and is still down today. Here's what I've tried so far...

* using a different router in the second store
* manually assigning an IP address
* after manually assigning IP, pinging our server gets "Request timed out."
* the connection has come back on its own (it seemed to go out when it stormed, which is why I thought maybe the cable is cut somewhere outside.. ?)
* another guy fixed it by resetting the server, and then the computers in store 2 got IP addresses automatically and it worked.

We have a pinch pad with the cables coming into.  So I can't use a cable tester to test the cable running from our main store to the other store, correct?  Also, on router in the second store, all of the lights are solid.

Any opinions? thanks much
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Rob Williams
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A "pinch pad" ? Perhaps a patch panel ?

Sounds like network cable to me. 80% of all network issues are related to cabling.
You should see if you can have a professional cabling company come in ad do a proper certification test, not a simple continuity test. Network cables, unlike phone cables, can have a basic connection, but a pinched, stretched, or kinked cable can have excessive crosstalk between the pairs causing lost packets, and as a result lost connections or reduced performance. Also noise sources such as a florescent light next to the cable run can cause lost packets.
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Oops, yeah I mean a patch panel.  I can never remember the name.  Or I get it confused with a punchdown block.
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Rob Williams
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I third the nomination for checking, testing, certifying the cable.  It sounds like it's the most likely candidate for "what changed".  As mentioned, the cable could be fine but there could be some new environmental variable (such as florescent lighting) causing Electro Magnetic Interference (EMI) on the cable.

If the cable is plugged into a managed switch, are you seeing any errors on the ports on either end?