Diagnosing intermittent network problems with a script or a utility

I work for a small non-profit organization with about 90 employees.  We have a Windows network, and we use a fiber-optic connection to the Internet.  The fiber has been very reliable until recently.  For the past three weeks, we've had short, intermittent problems with our Internet connection.  These episodes only last for a minute or less, and they happen on average once or twice a day.  The way I notice it is that I get kicked-out of Google Apps, and other users complain that they can't process credit-cards or use other cloud services.  The ISP insists that there is nothing wrong with the fiber.  The only thing they did is send a technician to replace the modem, but that didn't have any effect.

It's possible that the problem resides somewhere inside our network.  I'd like to run some kind of script or utility that will help me troubleshoot the problem.  I don't think a simple "ping -t mail.google.com" will be helpful, because it won't tell me where the problem originates.

I'm not really a networking guy.  What do people suggest?  A PowerShell script, maybe?  Or some kind of utility (preferably freeware)?

Thanks in advance.
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Will SzymkowskiSenior Solution ArchitectCommented:
This is more of a networking question but would i would recommend is starting at the router that your fiber is connected to. When you login to this device it should have some sort of logging which should show when you have dropped connections.

Does this happen frequently? You said that they replaced the modem did they check the fiber line itself as it is glass in side and can damage easily.

Also, when you experience this timeout/disconnect issue, is it only internet traffic that is affected? Can you still access network shares etc?

If it is only internet affected and modem/router and fiber lines are good, what DNS servers are you pointing to?



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chernavskyAuthor Commented:
Will, the technicians from the ISP said that they did remote-testing on the fiber and didn't find any problems with it (which is not surprising, given the intermittent nature of the outages).  I don't know if they inspected it physically when they were on-site.  I doubt it.  I think they just installed a new modem, and that was it.

The disconnects are so brief that I usually only find out about them afterwards.  I don't know if I can still access network shares.  I guess that's something that the script/utility would test.

I'm pretty sure that the DNS servers are the ones maintained by our ISP.  I don't know the specific addresses.  I'm not sure if they're encoded on the domain server or the router, or the firewall.  I'm not really a networking guy.  I can try to investigate, though.

Not sure about logging on the router.  I'm not really familiar with how the router works.  I can log in and take a look.  

Will SzymkowskiSenior Solution ArchitectCommented:
Main point here IMO is when this happens does everything internally work accordingly. If that is the case you exempt the Access Layer and internal servers from the equation. This would then indicate that it has something to do with either the hardware (router) or the physical fiber lines or packet loss/drops from the ISP.

Might need to do more investigating and make sure that you are notified or tell your user to test a few things and get them to relay that info back to you.

Probably better if you could experience it yourself because users can exaggerate sometimes.

chernavskyAuthor Commented:
Will, I was hoping for some sort of automated system (script or utility) that would keep a log, so I can get more information about the frequency, duration -- and, most importantly, the cause of the outages.  My users are not tech-savvy at all, and I'm reluctant to ask them to do troubleshooting.
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