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Dropping connection


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#1 Entropy2

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Posted 05 April 2010 - 03:47 PM

After reading this (if you have the time) you're going to insist that I'm either a certified loon or a total computer hack...probably both. While the first is still in question, I can assure you that I am far from a novice. I have talked to many good IT people about this problem, but thus far have not found a solution. Those of you who love a mystrry, I welcome your help.

My Setup:
• Comcast cable modem, with no less than 6Mb/s down, 2 Mb/s up
• DLink DIR655 802.1N router
• Other routers available and used (but not active)
• Three PC, all running Windows XP SP3 and latest patches. Each with AVG free Virus and ZoneAlarm firewall.
• Two PC’s are hard wired to router, one has both wirless and wired (docked).
• Various other wireless devices (itouch, Playstation, etc.)
• A full host of virus/mal/rootkit/adware scanning tools used (but not active), including Defender, SCI, Kasperski, Superaintispyware, Malwarebytes, ATF, Panda on-line and others
• Three Browsers: IE8, Firefox 3.6.3, Safari 4.0

Problem:
My internet connection and speed are great…when it works. About every fifth or tenth page I try to load, the page hangs… with the status message at the bottom (IE8) saying “waiting http…….”. The hang could be before any of the page loads or after it is partially loaded (usually the pictures don’t load). When it partially loads, sometimes it says done (when it clearly hasn’t loaded some content) and other times it just gets stuck.

Hitting stop and reload three or four times will sometimes get it working again. Sometimes it works to hit back and then restart the page, but not often. Most times I have to either close the browser completely and start over, or go to a 'simple' page like google to get things moving again. but I’ve found little correlation between the hanging and the type of page being loaded, it does feel like an established connection (streaming audio/bvideo) remains up, but the fetch has problems.

Not so quick...This problem isn’t limited to browsing, as my Outlook Express when asked to send/receive will hang most times (it have five steps to synch each folder), until it times out, at which time I would need to cancel and hit send/receive again. Additionally, the Playstation 3 will drop it’s connection randomly… although much less frequently than the browser. So this is NOT just browsing.

Steps Taken:
• Taken router out (direct modem connection)
• Replaced router 3 times.
• Replace cable modem 3 times...with numerous ISP service calls to house
• Changed all cat5 cables
• Reset TCP/IP and Winsock
• Performed six million virus/mal/rootkit/ad scans
• Clear cache, history, cookies, etc every session
• Ran negative DNS patch (e.g. no negative DNS caching)
• Confirmed all IP setting with ISP multiple times
• had comcast check physical lines several times (power, reflectance, BER, jitter, delay, etc.)
• Asked neighbours if they experience problems (no problems reported)
• Shut off Zone alarm. Unfortunetly AVG 9 doesn’t allow it to be turned off.
• Cut off chicken head and sprinkled blood on wires
• Used OpenDNS, comcast dynamic DNS and Static DNS

FOR THE LOVE OF PETE...HELP

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#2 meuchel

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Posted 05 April 2010 - 04:16 PM

I am not very knowledgeable about cable internet architecture but the sprinkling of chicken blood was very interesting.
Good way to see if people are still reading.

to me it sounds like an issue experienced on dsl when a modem looses "train".
on dsl and i am assuming it is the same with cable your dsl modem has to "train" or sync with the equipment at your cable providers central office.
any cable techies out there wanna comment on if this could be a possible port problem at the CO?
that is what it sounds like to me.

the issue you are describing seems to warrant a total loss of connection.

run the command: ping -t -l 500 ISP_GATEWAY_ADDRESS

where ISP_GATEWAY_ADDRESS is your isp's gateway equipment... this should be provided to you by comcast.
if they don't provide it do tracert www.google.com and it should be the 2nd or 3rd hop.

the ping command is to test if larger packets can be passed to your gateway over an extended period of time.
if you get loss it is probably at comcast's central office.

#3 Entropy2

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Posted 05 April 2010 - 05:23 PM

Thanks for the Reply meuchel. I ran the ping while browsing and encountered a page hang, but the ping never changed (between 9 and 19ms). I'll run it longer and see if the results differ, but expect not. Wouldn't this show that the connection is not dropping at the ethernet layer (layer 2) and would have to be at the TCP layer or lower....right?? I might guess that my TCP stack was messed up if I weren't using multiple Pc's and multiple other devices.

#4 meuchel

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Posted 06 April 2010 - 10:14 AM

you say ping never dropped while your browser still hung.
ping resides on layer 3, the network layer, of the osi model
ping also is on the internet layer of your tcp/ip model
link > internet > transport > application
the weird thing is that you said it is happening across all of your lan machines.
now you were pinging your gateway i am assuming
trying pinging an ip further out that responds.
usually if it is something further out everyone in your neighborhood that is on cable would be having similar issues.
is that the case or just you?

also if you are still pinging it is something further up in the stack such as compression or error checking.
the packets flowing but are they getting fragmented or messed up during compression.
are you using a proxy server with your cable provider? which would effect browsing but not email.

#5 Entropy2

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Posted 06 April 2010 - 11:24 AM

You've a wealth of information meuchel. I'm traveling until Thursday and can't get to it till then. When i get back, I'll try differect tests to different gateways and let you know how it goes. I will also call comcast to confirm their gateway address... they may redirect pings.

Thanks again for your help.

#6 meuchel

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Posted 06 April 2010 - 12:05 PM

not a problem
hope you find it

#7 Entropy2

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Posted 09 April 2010 - 09:36 AM

Hi meuchel.

Here's the latest. While I was travelling this week, I had an opportunity to use my laptop on the hotel network and experienced some (slightly less severe) connectivity difficulties. This could easily be caused by sharing a single DSL or T1 connection with 1000 other guests, or the bad wireless, but it had me thinking that the problem is computer related...and that the my non-browser connection issues are from a different problem.

HOWEVER, back at home today, I ran ten sequential ping tests (of about 25 pings each) to Comcast with about 10 second intervals between tests, and on one I DID see some issues. I tried to attached screenshot but don't see that option here. It essentially looks like this:

Reply From 68.85.184.233: bytes=1000 time=10ms TTL=254
Reply From 68.85.184.233: bytes=1000 time=10ms TTL=254
Reply From 68.85.184.233: bytes=1000 time=10ms TTL=254
Reply From 68.85.184.233: bytes=1000 time=10ms TTL=254
Request Timed out
Reply From 68.85.184.233: bytes=1000 time=10ms TTL=254
Reply From 68.85.184.233: bytes=1000 time=10ms TTL=254
Reply From 68.85.184.233: bytes=1000 time=10ms TTL=254
Reply From 68.85.184.233: bytes=1000 time=10ms TTL=254
Request Timed out
Request Timed out
Request Timed out
Reply From 68.85.184.233: bytes=1000 time=10ms TTL=254
Reply From 68.85.184.233: bytes=1000 time=10ms TTL=254


As you can see, I used a larger packet size...but also got it to happen at 500 bytes. This behavior tends to mirror my difficulties... good connection followed by temporary timeout. Do you agree?

I've called Comcast and pushed hard that the issue is in their gateway...probably a bad card in their CMTS. After much cajoling, the agreed to have a NETWORK engineer call me. Hopefully I'll speak to him on Monday or Tuesday and let you know what he says.

Edited by Entropy2, 09 April 2010 - 09:38 AM.


#8 CaveDweller2

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Posted 09 April 2010 - 10:29 AM

AVG free Virus and ZoneAlarm firewall = your problem. I am willing to bet if you uninstall one or the other your issue will go away. My advice would be to uninstall ZA, since according to this ZA has an issue. Try it as a test just to see =)

Edited by CaveDweller2, 09 April 2010 - 10:31 AM.

Hope this helps thumbup.gif

Associate in Applied Science - Network Systems Management - Trident Technical College


#9 meuchel

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Posted 09 April 2010 - 11:05 AM

i would agree with you CaveDweller2 but he said the Playstation is dropping it's connection as well.
i still think he is having a network problem with comcast at the co.

#10 CaveDweller2

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Posted 09 April 2010 - 01:46 PM

Do you experience this on all of your PC's?

Hope this helps thumbup.gif

Associate in Applied Science - Network Systems Management - Trident Technical College


#11 Entropy2

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Posted 11 April 2010 - 10:58 PM

Thanks Cave. I have three PC's, a playstation. The problem happens on all PC's with painful regularity.... but some days much worse than others. The playstation drops connection with much less frequency. The nature of the problem appears to be related to the initial 'fetch', and once a connection is established, there doesn't seem to be a big problem. Streaming audio/video work fine once the connection is made.

I've suspected AVG and Zone and have tried to disable them to see what happens. With Zone disabled (but not uninstalled) I saw no change. AVG (R 9) doesn't have the option to turn it off and must be uninstalle

#12 CaveDweller2

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Posted 12 April 2010 - 02:15 AM

The problem is there is a file interaction taking place between ZA and AVG. Disabling ZA isn't stopping that interaction and its ZA with the issue. But if you don't want to test it then that's fine.

Hope this helps thumbup.gif

Associate in Applied Science - Network Systems Management - Trident Technical College


#13 Entropy2

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Posted 12 April 2010 - 02:06 PM

It's not difficult to uninstall. I'll uninstall it and turn on the windows firewall...and let you know how it goes

#14 Entropy2

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Posted 12 April 2010 - 03:19 PM

I completed the uninstall, and while I still need more time to test the results, the improvement is immediately evident...not one page hang today. I'm embarrassed that the solution (appears to be) so simple. I've spent days looking for similar problem reports on-line, and never saw ZA mentioned with this type of issue. if anything I though it was AVG.

Part of my confusion is the Playstation issues, but I'm guessing that is a red-herring and there might be some secondary issue with my router. Do you recommend any other firewall's to replace Zone... or maybe I should replace AVG instead or in addition to??


I've got my fingers crossed that this will pan out...and certainy appreciate your hlep. Stay tuned

#15 CaveDweller2

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Posted 12 April 2010 - 04:23 PM

Fingers crossed it fixes the browsing issue.

If the other devices are all wireless it could be some sort of interference.

Hope this helps thumbup.gif

Associate in Applied Science - Network Systems Management - Trident Technical College





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