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Old 09-01-2013, 02:32 PM
 
5,940 posts, read 4,250,707 times
Reputation: 4615

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I'm looking for some input into my current situation. Maybe someone with an IT background (?) may want to chime in?

Symptom:

I'm playing an online game with my wife. Both of our PCs are hardwired to the router. Sporadically when we play, we are both disconnected from the game server simultaneously.

What I've tried so far (aka, Wall of Text):

I checked for things like blocked ports on the router, QoS settings, I checked if anyone was "stealing" my BW via the wireless LAN that is also setup (but we don't use it much, other than a laptop). I read some online FAQs that are specific to this game about settings we should have on our PC (firewall settings, ports, etc). We seem to be in the clear with that.

Besides, the fact that we are both kicked simultaneously did seem a bit weird...

So, then I decided to run a little test. And this is where, particularly, I'd like the input of someone that maybe is in the field.

On a third PC that is also on this wired LAN, I set it up to ping google nonstop (once a second) and also yahoo. Google/yahoo is separate from the same game server we are trying to stay connected to, so it is sort of the "control" of the test.

When we are "in-game" and suddenly it looks like nothing is updating, if I take a look at the 3rd PC and the ping results, sure enough I'm seeing "Request Timed Out" showing up, sometimes only for a second or two. In those instances, we happen to recover "in-game" and everything is fine. But other times, the "timed out" appears for about 10 seconds and then we are disconnected.

For a non-IT person (I'm an engineer but not an IT guy), that test "proves" it is the ISP. Since my pings to google and yahoo are timing out, it means I've lost connectivity in general, not JUST to the game server. In other words, not a problem with the game, but rather a problem with the ISP.

Key Question:
Is my assumption about pinging correct? Should I expect 0 lost pings over 1 hour? 2 hours? Is it common to lose pings like that? Does everyone internet connection go up/down very often, but we never notice it?

Solutions?:

I contacted my ISP. They did some "modem connectivity test" on their end where they test some signals. They claim everything was fine, but said that they'd put my modem on a "watch list." I let a few days go by. I recorded when I was seeing the problem. I figured I'd call them up and have them add that information to my case#. That should make it easier for them to see "Hey, at 8:51pm the issue occurred." Unfortunately, they seemed to act like my follow-up phone call was a new issue altogether.

Maybe I'm not describing the problem to these guys right.

Any advice/anecdotes/input would be appreciated!
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Old 09-02-2013, 06:59 AM
 
36 posts, read 65,590 times
Reputation: 29
Need more details. Windows pc or Mac? Windows XP, Vista, 7 or 8?

Modem, as you stated, could mean DSL or perhaps a cable modem. If you have XP and DSL you can try Dr. TCP and tweak your MTU, the default 1500 bytes is too large of a packet size for AT&T DSL. You can find more info on this at dslreports.com.

Also how old is your networking equipment? These newer "energy saving" power bricks which power most routers (as old as G series wifi routers), including some ATT 2Wire and some Verizon Actiontech routers have a habit of dying a slow death due to power supply capacitors swelling up internally in the power supply brick, which in turn degrades router performance. Maybe that's why your ISP is doing a modem watch.

Some games can use considerable amounts of bandwidth. If you can find a linksys wrt54gl at some used computer store, flash Tomato or DDWRT they have bandwidth graphs so you can observe - at peak game play, how much bandwidth is being used, perhaps your Internet is saturated. Hopefully you have a reasonable Internet speed - at least 3 megabit?

Since you're hardwired, you could also look at doing some tcp tuning. Windows Vista/7/8 and to a lesser extent XP are tuned very aggressively and if routers at the isp and along the way on the Internet these settings may not be optimal because you do have not control over what hops the packets make, and if one router along the way is old or overloaded can't handle the "bursty" nature of Windows packets, taming your TCP tuning for the weakest link may help.

If your PC's have an Intel based adapter (especially of a Gigabit generation) consider visiting the Intel Website for newer drivers. They will be newer than what you can get say at Dell or HP (assuming you have one of these pc's). Create a restore point before upgrading drivers. Alternately Windows Update (on Vista, 7/8) may have driver updates for your Nic in the optional section. Broadcom gigabit adapters have similar tuning parameters.

Do a search for tcp off load rss chimney, always document what setting you change, and see if that helps your Internet responsiveness.

Here is Nick Whittome, a Microsoft MVP, take on these advanced TCP tuning features of Windows

RSS / TCP Offloading strikes again. Microsoft should KILL this feature for the masses... - Nick Whittome - The Naked MVP

I'd probably try the TCP Tuning options first before updating drivers. If you do update drivers I've seen some driver updates change all the tcp tuning settings back to default a couple of times so you want to recheck your settings after a driver update. The above article - in the reader comments states what parameters to adjust. In a nutshell, it would be disabling Receive Side Scaling, TCP Offload (IPv4 and IPv6), and IP Checksum Offload (IPv4 and IPv6). The newer drivers let you make these adjustments in the advanced settings of the adapter, so you don't have to resort to manual tweaking of the Windows registry. Some adapters which don't expose these settings you may have to drop to the command prompt and issue some netsh commands.

.
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Old 09-02-2013, 10:18 AM
 
21,339 posts, read 63,911,302 times
Reputation: 41754
Loss of connectivity to a particular IP address can happen for a number of reasons. It would be more helpful if you were running traceroute to find where the break might be happening.
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Old 09-04-2013, 07:13 AM
 
455 posts, read 852,372 times
Reputation: 637
Recently I've been having an issue (that I think is modem-related) with my cable internet, where if I'm downloading a large file at a relatively high speed, any additional surfing causes the modem to drop the connection and immediately start bringing it back up. This just suddenly cropped up last weekend and no settings were changed.
If you notice the lights going out on your modem during these outages, you might be experiencing the same thing.

I've ordered a new modem that should arrive in a day or so, and will update on the results. If it still happens, I'll be looking at the ISP. I'm using Cox, btw, with an old D2 Motorolla modem. I'm upgrading to a D3 as I'm pretty sure Cox is using channel bonding now, so I may see some benefit from that in terms of speed.
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