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Internet Connection problems

Posted on 2015-01-27
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Last Modified: 2015-02-15
I have a customer who has had ongoing problems with their ADSL Internet connection. They have had to replace their modem/router at least three times in the last 6 months after storms have hit. The most recent time was yesterday. On two of those occasions, the NIC on the main board of one computer has also been taken out requiring the mainboard being replaced.
Yesterday when I left the site, the connection was up and everything appeared to be working as it should. This morning at some point things started playing up again. The modem (and Windows 7/8) shows as being connected to the Internet, but they can't open any webpage. They can ping a website and the ip address. If they put the IP address into the browser it won't open the page. It appears as though the connection is there, but going so slow that the browser times out before it loads any page.
This problem happened about a day after the modem was replaced three weeks ago, and it persisted for about two weeks. They have contacted Telstra (ISP) numerous times and had varying responses and attempted fixes, but nothing Telstra did seemed to make a difference. A Telstra tech visited the site and ran more tests but couldn't find any problems (but the connection had resumed prior to his arrival).
I'm not sure how to proceed. The ISP is claiming that there is nothing wrong with the connection.
Can anyone suggest some sort of troubleshooting process or set of tests that I can run?
Cheers,
Greg
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Question by:gregmiller4it
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Expert Comment

by:VB ITS
ID: 40574538
Telstra techs are just a lovely bunch aren't they?

I assume the user power cycled both the modem and their machines when they experienced this issue? If they can ping both the website name and the IP address then I don't think it's an issue with DNS resolution. Perhaps get them to try a different browser such as Firefox or Chrome?

You may also want to invest in a UPS to prevent the modem and PC from dying down the track as most UPS's have the ability to protect the equipment from power surges as well as power outages (gives the user a chance to safely shut down the devices).
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Author Comment

by:gregmiller4it
ID: 40574874
Thanks. We've tried an alternative browser...no change. Also, there was a senior Telstra tech on site this afternoon (whom I have known for years) and he brought a laptop with him. Interestingly it did exactly the same thing: he could ping a website by name or IP, but could not bring it up in a browser. He wasn't happy with the adsl filter in use and will return tomorrow afternoon with a central filter and some other diagnostic tools to see if he can work it out. I'll update when I hear the outcome.
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Expert Comment

by:VB ITS
ID: 40574937
Ah OK fair enough. If it's happening on another laptop then I'd guess it's the modem that's at fault. Either way, I'd be interested to know what the issue is.
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Author Comment

by:gregmiller4it
ID: 40583222
Sorry for the delay...the problem is not solved, but it has gone away for the time being: I suspect it will return at the most inopportune time.
I was at the customer site today and it just started working again some time after the Telstra tech left the other day. He was out there on Thursday and was hoping/planning to return on Friday afternoon, but he hasn't made it back to the site yet. In the mean time the connection has started to work, at least for a while. Apparently it was out temporarily again on Saturday morning, but is working again today.
So the issue remains and we are still trying to work it all out.
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LVL 24

Expert Comment

by:VB ITS
ID: 40583231
Do you have a spare ADSL modem to test? Did Telstra give you one of their newer Technicolor TGXXXX models or one of the crappy old Netgear modems?

Again, it could be the modem at fault here (more likely) or a routing issue at Telstra's end (less likely).
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Author Comment

by:gregmiller4it
ID: 40583259
It is a brand new modem. I replaced the modem on Tuesday morning (after the Australia Day long weekend). The new modem worked perfectly for the 2-3 hours that I was on-site. It didn't start to play up until later that day or the following morning. It started to work again a few days later, and is currently working.
Exactly the same thing happened about three weeks ago; a storm took out the modem, the customer went and purchased a new modem and I installed it. It worked fine that day and then they had problems the next day. They appeared to be connected but could not browse. That went on for nearly two weeks before it started working a few hours before Telstra arrived on-site.

I haven't tried a different modem since last Tuesday, but it appears to be bigger than a modem problem. My thoughts are that it has something to do with the Telstra lines, or the distance from the exchange. They had no problems for years until they moved to this location. The old location was much closer to the exchange (only about 100m). The current site is about 2km from the exchange.
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VB ITS earned 500 total points
ID: 40583262
2KM from the exchange should still decent speeds, around 12Mbps or thereabouts. It could very well be an issue with the line, it's hard to say without being there physically to investigate what the issue is.

An idea could be to create a batch file on the desktop to ping -t 8.8.8.8 (Google's DNS servers) when the Internet cuts out. You simply instruct the client to double click this file when they lose Internet access and have them read you the response over the phone. If they can ping 8.8.8.8 then great, basic connectivity is working. You would then look at DNS resolution as the next step, but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

May also be worth getting that UPS as mentioned in one of my previous replies to protect the modem and workstation. It'll be cheaper in the long run if they're going out and replacing the modem every week or two.
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Author Comment

by:gregmiller4it
ID: 40583305
The ping -t is a new one to me; but continuous pings sound like a good idea.
When the connection is out, they can still ping an ip address or a URL, but they can't browse to it. Sometimes a page might partially load. Maybe the continuous ping results might show a delay or something.
I'll probably be back out there tomorrow.
As far as the UPS; yes, its a good idea. They picked up a Belkin single outlet surge-protector, which I installed on last visit. Just put the modem into it and the modem phone line through it as well. Apparently, the Telstra tech uninstalled it when he visited because "they can cause noise on the line". So that leaves them unprotected again. I suggested they might want to pull the plug on the modem at the end of each day. It seems the lightning has come down the phone line and then into the PC via ethernet (blown NIC on mainboard twice).
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Expert Comment

by:VB ITS
ID: 40583312
The ping -t is a new one to me; but continuous pings sound like a good idea.
When the connection is out, they can still ping an ip address or a URL, but they can't browse to it. Sometimes a page might partially load. Maybe the continuous ping results might show a delay or something.
Oh right of course, I forgot about that bit. Yes, the continuous ping may still show some dropouts while they're trying to load sites so it's worth a shot anyway.

They picked up a Belkin single outlet surge-protector, which I installed on last visit. Just put the modem into it and the modem phone line through it as well. Apparently, the Telstra tech uninstalled it when he visited because "they can cause noise on the line".
He's correct, they can cause noise on the line depending on the power quality in the building.

It seems the lightning has come down the phone line and then into the PC via ethernet (blown NIC on mainboard twice).
Yikes! Whereabouts in Australia is this? Sounds like somewhere on the north coast to be honest.

Seems like the best solution here is to shut everything down then unplug it from the power when the client leaves for the day. Won't help if a storm strikes during working hours though...
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Author Comment

by:gregmiller4it
ID: 40592456
So, this site is in Casino, in the Northern Rivers area of NSW. We have had some pretty serious storms over recent times, but I think this customer's building must act like a lightning rod or something.
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