Author Topic: Problems with internet connection - any help please?  (Read 1147 times)

Offline Peter B

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Problems with internet connection - any help please?
« on: July 28, 2019, 02:09:01 AM »
Hi everyone

We're having annoying problems with intermittent internet dropouts, and I was wondering if anyone had any suggestions for possible causes, please.

I mostly use a laptop in a room at the other end of the house from our (wireless) router, although my wife often uses a device within a few metres of the router but still has problems. So proximity to the device doesn't seem to be an issue.

The router is located on a low plastic table. It's near a heating vent in the floor, although the heated air is directed away from the device. The router is also near a charger for an electric mobility scooter battery. And it's also not far from a dishwasher, as well as a stash of metal containers (old baby formula tins). I understand that heat and humidity can be issues, but connection issues sometimes occur at times when neither the heater or dishwasher are operating.

The router is fairly new (less than a year old), the laptop is a few years old, while the tablets are a bit younger than the laptop.

Are these sorts of problems to do with the router or the receiving devices? Or the distance between the devices and the routers? Our internet provider? Static electricity? Unexorcised spirits? Any suggestions for solving or reducing the problem would be gratefully accepted. Thank you!

Offline LunarOrbit

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Re: Problems with internet connection - any help please?
« Reply #1 on: July 28, 2019, 02:51:37 AM »
How many devices are connected to the router? The more devices you have the more likely you'll have connection problems. If it's just 2 or 3 you shouldn't have problems.

The distance and the number (and types) of walls between you and the router will also affect signal strength.

The charger for the scooter might be causing radio interference. Do you have wifi issues when the scooter is not charging? Cordless phones might cause issues with some routers.

Do you have nearby neighbours that have their own wifi? It could be interfering with yours.

You can try getting a wifi range extender. It's just a little box that you can put in another room farther from the router to repeat its signal.

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Offline smartcooky

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Re: Problems with internet connection - any help please?
« Reply #2 on: July 28, 2019, 06:50:09 AM »
A couple of questions

1. What is the maximum number of devices allowed on your router (it is usually 8 or 16 across the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands)
2. How many devices do you have in the house that can connect to the router
3. Have you logged into the router and checked that there are no unauthorized users (neighbors) connected.
4. What is your connection lease time set to on your router, and do you have devices that regularly disconnect and reconnect.

The reason I ask is that we had a problem some time ago which sounded very much like yours. We had a crappy Vodafone router (the one issued when we signed up) that could only take 8 connections. The problem, as it turned out, was the router not releasing devices when they went out out of range, and then reconnecting as a new device when they came back into range. The lease time was 24 hours and could not be changed. At the time, we had two laptops, three phones and a tablet all on the WiFi - that's six connections. If I went out, say, to the shop, when I came back, the router would not allow me to connect on my original connection and connected me to a new one, so we now have 7 of the 8 connections taken. A couple of phone reboots, and bang, all the connections are full, and we had to reboot the router.

My solution was to ditch the free router and buy a Ubiquiti Edge router with a separate WiFi access point mounted high up on the ceiling, centrally in the house (it just looks like a smoke detector). No problems since then.
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Offline grmcdorman

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Re: Problems with internet connection - any help please?
« Reply #3 on: July 28, 2019, 08:54:04 AM »
It's really hard to say; what sort of wireless devices do you have? If you happen to have an Android phone or tablet, then Wif Analyzer will really help, as you can see exactly what's happening with your WiFi signal. You can also use ping on Windows and Ping & Net to ping your router repeatedly to see how your traffic behaves. There are probably similar free apps for iOS (Apple) devices.

Does the router have Ethernet ports? If it does, try plugging into one of those to see if the problem persists; if so, it's not your WiFi, it's your internet connection.

However, the best choice - as smartcooky said - is to replace the router (or disable its WiFi and plug a better WiFi router into one of its Ethernet ports). The routers supplied by ISP are often very basic. This would also allow you to get a dual band (2.4GHz/5GHz) router; 5GHz is shorter range but far less prone to interference.

I wouldn't recommend a range extender, they are extremely hit-and-miss. Mesh routers, conversely, work well but you should only invest in that if you can verify with something like WiFi Analyzer that signal strength is an issue.

Offline Obviousman

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Re: Problems with internet connection - any help please?
« Reply #4 on: July 28, 2019, 05:08:24 PM »
Who is the ISP? Telstra?

Offline ka9q

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Re: Problems with internet connection - any help please?
« Reply #5 on: July 31, 2019, 01:12:53 AM »
Your first order of business is to determine of the problem is on the radio link between you and your access point, over the link between your house and your ISP, or somewhere farther away.

I'm very familiar with the tools to do this on Linux and, to a lesser extent, on Mac OSX. One of them appears as the tool "tracert" on Windows. Do you know that one?

My preferred tool is "mtr", which is an enhanced tracert/traceroute, but it is only natively available on UNIX and Linux systems. It's available as part of a larger port of Linux/Unix tools to MacOSX. I don't know about Windows; maybe somebody else knows? What I like about mtr is that you can leave it running and see loss and delay statistics for each individual hop between you and your destination.

Offline Peter B

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Re: Problems with internet connection - any help please?
« Reply #6 on: August 23, 2019, 08:13:10 AM »
Okay, thanks for your suggestions, everyone.

Our ISP is TPG, recommended to me by a friend who knows his IT stuff (he was using TPG at the time, not sure if he still does).

We've replaced the router supplied by TPG with one recommended by the tech we called in to see what was going on (an organisation called Geeks2U).

I've removed the battery charger from where it was, but we still seem to have problems. The problem with our connectivity problem is that it's unpredictable, in that things will be fine for days, and then we'll have a few hours of being unable to connect.

We normally have two laptops connected permanently, and at most one tablet as well, so I don't think the number of devices should be a problem. The distance from the router to the most distant laptop (where I'm typing this now) would be about 15 metres, with perhaps three/four walls between. Neighbours almost certainly have wireless routers, as this laptop can detect several when I'm choosing which one to connect to, but the signal strengths are a lot lower than ours.

That's about all the questions you've asked that I can answer at the moment - the rest of them I'd have to do some research to find out the answers.

But thank you anyway for the information you've provided.

Offline ka9q

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Re: Problems with internet connection - any help please?
« Reply #7 on: August 24, 2019, 02:14:33 AM »
You still need to locate the problem -- in your computer, on the radio link, in the router, on the link to your ISP, or in your ISP itself.

The best way to do this is with the traceroute command. That was its name under UNIX/Linux, but Microsoft adopted it and renamed theirs tracert. It sends packets to some destination (I typically use 8.8.8.8 or 1.1.1.1) and shows you the IP address and the round trip time to each router along the way. It works by sending test packets to the destination with incrementing "time to live" fields (which are really maximum allowable router hops) and then processing the "time exceeded" error messages that come back from the routers when the packets hit those limits.

In either case you run it from the command line.  (E.g., tracert 1.1.1.1) Run it first when everything is working normally (sometimes hops won't identify themselves even when they're working). Then run it when you have an outage and compare the results. It'll usually be obvious where the problem is by where the traceroute runs off into the weeds.

It's an invaluable debugging tool. I wish I had a penny for each time I've run it.

« Last Edit: August 24, 2019, 02:17:22 AM by ka9q »

Offline bknight

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Re: Problems with internet connection - any help please?
« Reply #8 on: August 24, 2019, 11:54:47 AM »
I never knew that command, but you indicated it would be easy to identify where the problem existed.  I have a lap(current one) that frequently drops signal from our Comcast router, but the signal will most of the time recover in seconds a bit of a nuisance but I thought it was the wireless card in the lap not being able to hook up to the router some 30-40 feet away and two walls.  The hardware and pc have up to date drivers/op sys.  When I carry it back to the same room the signal strength is much greater and it rarely drops signal in that room.
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Offline grmcdorman

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Re: Problems with internet connection - any help please?
« Reply #9 on: August 24, 2019, 04:19:49 PM »
traceroute/tracert isn't going to give much more if you are actually getting WiFi signal drops, as opposed to a generic "can't reach the intarwebs".

Given that in that case it rarely drops, it's more likely that for that it is indeed the wireless signal.

If you can confirm that it is only the WiFi there are a number of possible solutions; unfortunately most cost money:
  • Use one of the WiFi scanner apps to see what the best channel is for your router, and change it. Requires some technical know-how to change router settings.
  • Move the router. A central location is best; I believe higher is better, too. Also, if it has movable antennas, try changing how they point. Finally, make sure it isn't by something that could block the signal (like metal).
  • Try using the 5GHz band, if you're not already. 5GHz is usually far less crowded than the older 2.4GHz, but does have shorter range and is affected more by walls. Most smart phones these days support 5GHz, but your laptop might not. However, for the laptop you can buy a small USB adapter that supports 5GHz.
  • Buy a mesh router setup. Mesh routers (unlike WiFi repeaters) do a good job of covering a larger area, as they have multiple WiFi access points to provide coverage. Significantly more expensive than a simple WiFi router, though.
  • A final option is Ethernet over Powerline. Very dependent on the quality of your wiring and the things you've got plugged in; I also don't know how well it works in the UK (that's where you are, yes?). Also requires you to plug in to the EoP adapter with a cable; a nuisance for the laptop and impossible for smart phones and tablets.

As mentioned above, a WiFi extender is usually not very useful, in my experience.

Offline bknight

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Re: Problems with internet connection - any help please?
« Reply #10 on: August 25, 2019, 07:50:22 AM »
traceroute/tracert isn't going to give much more if you are actually getting WiFi signal drops, as opposed to a generic "can't reach the intarwebs".

Given that in that case it rarely drops, it's more likely that for that it is indeed the wireless signal.

If you can confirm that it is only the WiFi there are a number of possible solutions; unfortunately most cost money:
  • Use one of the WiFi scanner apps to see what the best channel is for your router, and change it. Requires some technical know-how to change router settings.
  • Move the router. A central location is best; I believe higher is better, too. Also, if it has movable antennas, try changing how they point. Finally, make sure it isn't by something that could block the signal (like metal).
  • Try using the 5GHz band, if you're not already. 5GHz is usually far less crowded than the older 2.4GHz, but does have shorter range and is affected more by walls. Most smart phones these days support 5GHz, but your laptop might not. However, for the laptop you can buy a small USB adapter that supports 5GHz.
  • Buy a mesh router setup. Mesh routers (unlike WiFi repeaters) do a good job of covering a larger area, as they have multiple WiFi access points to provide coverage. Significantly more expensive than a simple WiFi router, though.
  • A final option is Ethernet over Powerline. Very dependent on the quality of your wiring and the things you've got plugged in; I also don't know how well it works in the UK (that's where you are, yes?). Also requires you to plug in to the EoP adapter with a cable; a nuisance for the laptop and impossible for smart phones and tablets.

As mentioned above, a WiFi extender is usually not very useful, in my experience.

The router is located at more or less the center of the house.  Using a cable is one option, but that requires drilling some holes in the ceiling/walls something my spouse doesn't want to look at.  I will look into your other options, but I have another older lap setting about one foot away and don't have the issues with it, so I'm still betting on a bade wireless card.
Thanks
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Offline grmcdorman

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Re: Problems with internet connection - any help please?
« Reply #11 on: August 25, 2019, 10:42:27 AM »
Good that you already have the router near the centre of the house. Using the WiFi scanner app can also help you identify weak or dead spots in the house, though, and if you're ambitious you can move the router around and use the app to see how doing so affects things.

Ethernet over Powerline doesn't require drilling holes. Basically, you buy a kit (containing two devices) and plug one in next to the router (not in a powerbar or surge suppressor), connect it to the router with a cable, and then in another room plug in the other device. You can then plug another cable between the second device and your laptop and get a connection to your router.

The data flows from your laptop (for example), through the cable to the second EoP device, and then through your mains wiring inside the house to the first EoP device, which sends the data to the router.

When it works, it can work well; unfortunately it's very much at the mercy of the quality of your house wiring - and what you've got plugged in. A washer, for example, tends to put a lot of noise on the wiring and can interfere with EoP operations. It is less prone to interference (v.s. WiFi) from a neighbour using EoP, especially in detached homes.

We use EoP in our home, and it generally works very well for us. In particular, my son - who plays online games - finds that the WiFi has lag issues that the EoP doesn't, despite the WiFi being strong and (unlike yours) not dropping.

As I said though, I don't know if it's even available in the UK, much less how well it works on typical UK domestic mains wiring.

Offline ka9q

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Re: Problems with internet connection - any help please?
« Reply #12 on: August 26, 2019, 04:41:22 AM »
I'm not a fan of Ethernet over powerline, but that's because I'm a radio ham, and it's yet another source of HF radio noise. Ethernet itself can also generate radio noise, but running over cables designed for the purpose it's much less of a problem (and faster and more reliable).

Even better is fiber optic cable, which generates absolutely no radio interference and is absolutely immune to it. It's how I connect the multiple switches in our house (the WiFi access points being hung off the nearest switch). It's become surprisingly inexpensive, and it's easy to use.

Offline grmcdorman

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Re: Problems with internet connection - any help please?
« Reply #13 on: August 26, 2019, 07:48:38 PM »
I'm not a fan of Ethernet over powerline, but that's because I'm a radio ham, and it's yet another source of HF radio noise. Ethernet itself can also generate radio noise, but running over cables designed for the purpose it's much less of a problem (and faster and more reliable).

Even better is fiber optic cable, which generates absolutely no radio interference and is absolutely immune to it. It's how I connect the multiple switches in our house (the WiFi access points being hung off the nearest switch). It's become surprisingly inexpensive, and it's easy to use.
Absolutely. The problem is running the cable; as bknight mentioned drilling holes aren't an option for him, or for many other people. That's why the various no-cable options, despite their significant drawbacks, are so popular.

Offline bknight

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Re: Problems with internet connection - any help please?
« Reply #14 on: August 27, 2019, 07:43:39 AM »
Absolutely. The problem is running the cable; as bknight mentioned drilling holes aren't an option for him, or for many other people. That's why the various no-cable options, despite their significant drawbacks, are so popular.

I'm bothered by your indication that other devices hooked into the power, washer, dryer, microwave, oven, stovetop in addition to all the internet devices, causing interference or degradation of signal.  The primary goal is to have a more stable connection.
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