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Network working reliably until switch upgrade


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#1 DJZioNYC

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Posted 14 May 2016 - 03:48 PM

I have several wireless routers and access points around my house but they're mainly used for cellphones. Everything else is wired. I have multiple audio receivers, TVs, Apple TVs, NMTs, PCs... you name it.
I had some semblance of a scheme whereby in each 2nd floor bedroom, there'd be a smart TV, Roku, Apple TV, AV receiver and PC (or PCs) and where ever they were placed - in a TV stand, rack mount rack, etc - those local devices were connected to a 5 or 8 port switch. That switch / those switches would be connected via a Cat5/6 cable to each other and one was dropped down through the wall to the living room where the FIOS router would be. It was similar in the living room and kitchen where several devices in close physical proximity would be connected to a switch and that switch cabled to the FIOS router. Every device in my house has a fixed IP and all are on the same subnet, etc etc etc
In my bedroom I had an ersatz server that would play HD video and music (mp3's, flac's, wav's) to just about anything you could view or listen on anywhere around the house. I have 3 Netgear NAS's which I could also stream music from in any file format anywhere.

I never had a hiccup from anything. I never had lagging in video, buffering in audio, nothing, ever, never: my Denon receivers would spit out any file format, I'd watch Blu-Ray rips on an NMT, etc. Never had any kind of issue. I mean, *really* never had an issue. E.G., I could use the 'Play To' feature in WMP from any PC in my house and play a wav to any of the 5 receivers.
I realized some time back that my server fans were loud and I'd hear that low-level white noise day in and day out so I came up with an idea: put that server, NAS's, Internet radio recorder in my cool, rarely used basement. My house is balloon construction so in a matter of hours, I had 25 cables dropped down there. Another upside was the cabling rat's nest by each rack would be way simplified.
All the switches were Cisco 2005's (6 of them?) and 3Com 3C1670800's (3). I'd bought 2 Tenda 24 port gigabit switches at a Black Friday special for $50+ each a couple years back that were still sealed so I mounted them to a wall in the basement where most all the cables came down. About 25' away, I sent up a plain Jane 15U rack and put the two PCs in them, then slapped together a little shelf for the 3 NAS boxes. I wired everything up and typical network functions seemed normal. Until...
I went to play a wav file and it stalled and hiccupped big time. I tried different files: no change. I could stream mp3s without a hitch, but flacs would buffer and wavs would just stop playing.
My first thought was the switches. I found out a long time ago that bargains are an excuse to eventually buy what you need, so I dropped $600 on a 48 port Netgear switch.
No change.
I'm going to answer my own question right now: cables. I bet I have a bum cable somewhere. I used mostly (90% or better) brand new cables and many of them were good quality shielded cat 5, way better than the Monoprice cables I used for short runs before (Yes, they are good cables).
I guess my confusion (other than the suggestion of a bad cable) was when I mounted the Netgear switch, I was convinced that would resolve it.
Any suggestions?



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#2 Sneakycyber

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Posted 14 May 2016 - 07:14 PM

You likely have a loop in your network. IE: one cable is plugged into the network twice, or One of your switches is connected to the network twice. If all your switches are managed or support Spanning tree Turn It on and or RTSP this will help find the culprit. You could also do a running ping test from a PC or Mac or start streaming audio and start unplugging switches until the signal loss goes away. Ping Response times shouldn't exceed 1ms. Your network should be wired in a star pattern. One root switch and each of the secondary switches connects to the Root switch, then each device connects to the nearest switch.


Edited by Sneakycyber, 14 May 2016 - 07:16 PM.

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#3 Wand3r3r

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Posted 14 May 2016 - 07:49 PM

"many of them were good quality shielded cat 5"

 

Hopefully not shielded as that would be more expensive and unnecessary.

 

None of the switches you have are managed and as such wouldn't support spanning tree.

 

I take it you replaced the 9 switches with the one 48 port switch?

From this one switch do you have ONE cable that goes to the router?

 

"put that server, NAS's, Internet radio recorder "

 

This is only 5 devices.  Why did you drop 25 cables?

 

"I bet I have a bum cable somewhere"

 

Are you talking a patch cable or one of the 25 cable runs going to the patch panel?

either way the problem would only be with one device like your pc or the nas but not everything.



#4 DJZioNYC

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Posted 14 May 2016 - 09:53 PM

>>> Hopefully not shielded as that would be more expensive and unnecessary.

 

Acquired them (legitimately) for the cost of carrying them out.

 

>>>None of the switches you have are managed and as such wouldn't support spanning tree.

 

>>>I take it you replaced the 9 switches with the one 48 port switch?

 

>>>From this one switch do you have ONE cable that goes to the router?

 

The 48 port is managed and supports ST
Yes

Yes but I am looking into others.
 

 

>>>"put that server, NAS's, Internet radio recorder "

>>>This is only 5 devices.  Why did you drop 25 cables?

Every device in my house runs downstairs. Total count was 23. Dropped 25 because they were nearby. 8 are unconnected at the moment because I haven't eliminated 3 switches on the 2nd floor yet.

 

>>>"I bet I have a bum cable somewhere"

Just speculation AKA talking out loud.
 

>>>Are you talking a patch cable or one of the 25 cable runs going to the patch panel?
Investigating that as we speak.

 

>>>either way the problem would only be with one device like your pc or the nas but not everything.
Thanks for your input. Much obliged.


Edited by DJZioNYC, 14 May 2016 - 09:57 PM.


#5 DJZioNYC

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Posted 14 May 2016 - 09:57 PM

You likely have a loop in your network. IE: one cable is plugged into the network twice, or One of your switches is connected to the network twice. If all your switches are managed or support Spanning tree Turn It on and or RTSP this will help find the culprit. You could also do a running ping test from a PC or Mac or start streaming audio and start unplugging switches until the signal loss goes away. Ping Response times shouldn't exceed 1ms. Your network should be wired in a star pattern. One root switch and each of the secondary switches connects to the Root switch, then each device connects to the nearest switch.

 

 

Thanks for your reply. At 2300 local time (a few minutes from now), my Internet radio recorder will be off schedule until 4PM Sunday. I'm going to pull every cable out and start from scratch. So far, I've determined that anything on the 2nd floor (3 switches) are connected properly and there's only 1 cable from the 48-port switch to the router.



#6 Wand3r3r

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Posted 15 May 2016 - 12:52 AM

OK so the rest of the unmanaged switches are in the mix.

 

The problem with unmanaged switches is by default they are the "root" switch.

 

Most likely, baring cabling [which from what you describe as the original issue I think is not likely], is there is a root switch conflict.  They expect /designed to be standalone switches.  They were not designed to be in this topology. 

 

Not that this configuration can't work, it can.  Sometimes its the order you boot them up. Problem is you have no real control over the process.

 

Shielded cables are supposed to be grounded so they can shunt the emf/rf to the ground instead of it interfering with the electrical communication.  Ungrounded can become conductors of static like an antenna thereby causing interference in the communication.  Not a well known fact.

 

Might want to consider using unshielded cables instead.  It may have worked for some time flawlessly but when you start moving things around including cabling you may have created an RF field.

 

Best would have been to run multiple runs to each room, have one switch for all ports available with one link to the router.

Next best is to have the root switch [one closest to the router] be a managed one.  Lot of times the unmanaged will fall in line.  If not you can look at the stats on the managed switch by port connection to see which is having the errors.


Edited by Wand3r3r, 15 May 2016 - 12:54 AM.


#7 DJZioNYC

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Posted 18 May 2016 - 12:03 AM

I may have stumbled across an unexpected red herring...
There are likely AC lines running parallel with and maybe even in close proximity to some of my drops.
Here's how I plan to troubleshoot / tackle it:
1: Leave the managed switch in place in the basement and remove all cables from it.

2: Test every cable I have and chuck the iffy / bad ones (probably not many since the preponderance of them were newly packaged but I digress.)

3: Make a run from every vital device I have to the switch above ground, down stairs and along floors, unencumbered to it and see how it does

4: Open the basement wall and look upward into the open areas between 16" centers  and find runs that have no AC lines. If there are AC lines between the best runs, I'll remove any switch / outlet / etc from it / them and deal with that later.

5. Install cable plates where the Ethernet cables will drop down unencumbered.

6. Wire everything back up.

7. Test with everything wired up.



#8 DJZioNYC

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Posted 18 May 2016 - 12:08 AM

OK so the rest of the unmanaged switches are in the mix.

No, I removed all but 2 unmanaged switches but moreso, disconnected them to test the rest of the network and there was no change.

**If not you can look at the stats on the managed switch by port connection to see which is having the errors**

Going to do my homework on this one. Not familiar with that procedure but might give me a boost before I unwire everything.

Thanks for your reply and suggestions.

 

 



#9 DJZioNYC

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Posted 18 May 2016 - 12:37 AM

I'll admit I've only owned 1 managed switch before and other than changing its IP address, I never really did much with it.
Here's what I just found. I logged into my switch, did a factory default reset and after it came back up, I started poking around to see if I could find out if I had a particular port that was generating / had generated errors. I came across a great little button:
Cable Test

Short at G44.
Going to find what that's connected to and swap it out tomorrow (OK, today...)
I'll post my findings.
 


Edited by DJZioNYC, 18 May 2016 - 12:38 AM.


#10 DJZioNYC

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Posted 18 May 2016 - 08:11 PM

OK, not resolved per sé but progress.
I disabled the port that was showing a short, then plucked the cable out this morning before I left for work. I did a little network browsing at that point and it seemed to be way more brisk.
Turns out it was connected to the 70" TV in my living room, which has no value since there are 4 or 5 streaming devices connected to it anyhow.
I still can't spool out more than about 3 minutes of a wav file from my server *but* I can play wav's to my heart's content from my low-buck / bang-for-the-buck Netgear Readynas's.
Next up, I'm going to test all my cables.
My server is a run-of-the-mill Gateway, Quad Core 2.33, 8G RAM, 800MHz FSB that runs Vista Home Premium. Like I said before, it hadn't let me down for anything, even streaming Blu-Rays so I'm pretty confident there's a wrench in the works albeit a small one.
I will say that my overall network transmission rate seems to have taken a positive hit, to the tune of 3-3½x. I'd transfer pretty big files from a server or NAS box at about 25-30Mbps and I just had to move a few 250MB+ files and the rate was 80-100Mbps. This is looking up (apparently).
 



#11 Sneakycyber

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Posted 18 May 2016 - 09:47 PM

Sounds allot better now. 😃
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#12 DJZioNYC

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Posted 20 May 2016 - 01:27 PM

That box reeeeeally is straining. Hits major potholes when I do file transfers.
I disabled the onboard NIC and added an Intel 1000MT server NIC. Pretty much no change.
I use an app called Network Scanner and it's been a help with troubleshooting to some extent. An oddity I noticed when using it is that *all* of my boxes ping at 500ms or so, while everything else pings between 2 and 30ms. Not that concerned about that, though; one thing at a time.
Tomorrow AM (or late tonight if I'm in the throes of insomnia or anxiety lol): cable testing day.



#13 Wand3r3r

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Posted 20 May 2016 - 02:18 PM

"added an Intel 1000MT server NIC"

only makes a difference when the other end is also gig



#14 DJZioNYC

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Posted 20 May 2016 - 06:10 PM

"added an Intel 1000MT server NIC"

only makes a difference when the other end is also gig

As far as file transfers, yes but I've had a personal preference for Intel NIC's
P.S. there's an epilogue... See below



#15 DJZioNYC

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Posted 20 May 2016 - 06:19 PM

I believe that I've stumbled across the solution, quite by accident and quite out of left field. As we speak, I'm running 3 wav streams from my Vista server, one to a server on the 2nd floor and two on the main. Buffer glued at 100%.
My niece from Italy lives with me and isn't much of a TV watcher but flipped the STB (FIOS) on while I was at work and she got a message, "No Data Connectivity". The Channel Guide had no program data in it. Empty, nada, none, zilch, *but* she could watch TV without a hitch. I knew from past experience that STBs get their program data directly from the data connection. The first router power down / disconnect from power / reconnect didn't change anything as streams still hiccupped and the Program Guide was still blank. Second time was the charm.
My guess is the gateway got a little squirrelly when I rewired everything and admittedly never thought of rebooting the router. I had Internet connectivity the whole time so I never knew. I'll give it a couple days but by the third track, the stream would have fallen apart, so I'm betting the house I'm good to go.
Still going to check my cables anyhow.
Thank you again for all your help. Much obliged...
 






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