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Question: Nightly loss of Internet connection

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 26 Nov 2008 08:16 UTCWed 26 Nov 2008 - 8:16 am UTC 

We lose our Internet connection for about 30 to 60 minutes during roughly the same time period every night. This has been going on for the better part of a year and has become extremely annoying.

The behavior is not always exactly the same. Sometimes it goes down hard and does not come up for an hour or more. Sometimes it flaps for 15 or 20 minutes and then settles back on. Most typically, it goes down around 8:30 or 9:00, and after a while it comes back.

There may or may not be a parallel phenomenon in the morning; rarely is anyone up at dawn around here. But it is often down when I power up at about 9 a.m.

For some time it seemed to occur at about sunset, so that we thought it was due to some physical, external cause, probably thermal in nature. But at this season, most nights sundown is well past when it happens.

The question is simply this:  why?

There have been endless tech support calls, usually beginning with the same relentless round of questions about whether we've changed equipment, etc. (No.) Tech. support has even sent technicians to try to diagnose the problem locally, but both interior and exterior checks and tests have turned up nothing.

For the sake of the question, let's assume our installed equipment is fine. What else could account for this pattern of loss of connection?

Thank you,




 26 Nov 2008 08:36 UTCWed 26 Nov 2008 - 8:36 am UTC 

It sounds to me like a faulty modem!



John E 


 26 Nov 2008 09:03 UTCWed 26 Nov 2008 - 9:03 am UTC 

Hi, Archae0pteryx...

Can I assume you have a cable modem?

Please see my second clarification on this Google Answers question:

The part about the age of your modem and the necessity to have an older modem "reprovisioned" by your ISP may be especially useful.

Let me know if this helps...





 26 Nov 2008 17:35 UTCWed 26 Nov 2008 - 5:35 pm UTC 

Cable modem, yes.  That is part of the internal equipment that has been checked and rechecked.  Replacing the modem (even though it appeared to be working faultlessly) made no difference to this effect.  My husband actually thought it worked less well than the old one and put it back in the box.  Reprovisioning has been brought up again and again.  We have done everything we have been advised to.  The tech people always start at the same point in their questioning, and even when they are called night after night after night for 40-minute sessions and even when they send technicians out, nothing happens.

This began happening at a time when not a single box or wire or setting in our entire setup had been changed in a long time.

It isn't simply a matter of connection speed.  We see variations in that all the time, depending on how many computers are in use in the house (typically it's four but could be more) and who's downloading movies or watching YouTube.  This is a flat loss of connection.  Sometimes our LinkSys connection shows 'connected' when it isn't, and sometimes it admits to being disconnected.  Attempts to reconnect fail for a period of time.  And then, suddenly, everything works again.

Please think in terms of what cause could explain the cyclic effect associated with a time of day rather than which piece of our setup we ought to test and replace.  That is, I am more interested in theory ("What could this be?") than in problem solution ("Let's test your hardware.").  This is because attempts at practical solution over many months and by my very savvy husband, the service providers, the phone line tech support, and their field technicians have all failed.  My question here is an attempt to start at a different point and take a completely different approach to diagnosis.





 26 Nov 2008 18:28 UTCWed 26 Nov 2008 - 6:28 pm UTC 

Hi Tryx,

As you and all others know, I know very little about computers, so you all can laugh at my questions, but maybe they will jog an idea with someone.

Four or more computers:  linked together?
Any pattern of use when the connection goes down?
   Number of computers on internet, what people are doing, certain
   website(s) active when it goes down, etc.?

Overload of connection, feedback between computers, if they are linked?

Server(s)?  (Some kind of incompatibility?)

Sophomoric, I fear, but that never stopped me before.

Best regards and good luck,  Myo




 26 Nov 2008 18:53 UTCWed 26 Nov 2008 - 6:53 pm UTC 

Hi, Myo--your comments are always welcome!

Yes, many computers, with router and hubs (for example, three on a hub at my desk, but usually no more than two up at one time).  No problem there.  Most of the time everything works fine.

No pattern of use associated with the nightly failure.  It can happen when only one computer is actively connected and not doing anything with the Internet.  Conversely, it can stay up when a junior member of the family is on Bit Torrent, one of us is Googling hither and yon, and another is busily posting to an online BB.  It goes slowly then but stays up--unless it is ~8:30 at night.  (And some nights is does not go down.)  Also no apparent connection with weather patterns, although admittedly where I am we don't usually have much in the way of weather.

Little or no direct interaction among the linked computers, just occasional moves of files in and out of shared folders.

Again, I am really interested in academic and speculative possibilities and not a remote examination of setup.  Imagine that I had a wound on my hand that wouldn't heal and that reopened at the same time every day, regardless of what I was doing or not doing at the time.  I am not asking for help figuring out the nature of the injury or what sort of bandages I should use.  I am asking what properties of flesh and blood could explain this condition.





 26 Nov 2008 19:45 UTCWed 26 Nov 2008 - 7:45 pm UTC 

Hi Again Tryx

This is NOT a joke!

Years ago (when I had a computer business) we had one big customer who had problems with one lady user whose computer was always misbehaving.

Changing her computer only proved that the problem was not with the hardware but with the user herself.

We never discovered why.

But we speculated that possibly she was generating an excess of static electricity which was affecting her computer.

Ladies who wear nylon underwear are (reportedly) more likely to produce more static than those in nudist camps.

Maybe this will give you a new line of enquiry?

I do hope so.

All the Best



John E 


 26 Nov 2008 19:54 UTCWed 26 Nov 2008 - 7:54 pm UTC 

Hi Tryx...

Here's my best guess...

Your ISP leases your IP address to your machine. Most cable providers that I know do this on a 24-hour renewal cycle, so, for a theoretically short time every 24 hours, your IP address is rescinded and renegotiatied. While this should take only a short time, I've noticed it take longer for some unknown reason.

Additionally, I've noticed this happen on my system at around the 12 hour mark, as well, even though the IP address is not due for renewal. What usually works is going to the router's IP address in a browser and clicking the link to restart the router. Depending on the brand, you may also be able to see how long your lease has been held, or how long you have left on your lease, before you restart it.

On rare occasions, that alone is not sufficient, even when there is a good cable signal coming in, so then I will unplug both the modem and my firewall router from the wall (or shut off the surge protector that feeds them both), wait fifteen seconds and start them both back up. It sometimes speeds the reconnection if I go to the modem's IP address in the browser and verify when it is operational, and then go to the router and restart it.

As to why this occurs, I can't really say. There was a time some months ago when this was almost a daily occurrence - about every 12 hours. Since I had them reprovision my modem, it is a rare event, and is usually resolved just by restarting the router.

Let me know where this takes you...





 26 Nov 2008 22:00 UTCWed 26 Nov 2008 - 10:00 pm UTC 

Aha--a hypothesis!  (Also _an_ hypothesis.)  I will relay this back to our tech group, meaning my husband.  I don't think he knows about the cyclical renewals.  That's the avenue I'm going to suggest exploring.

We do restart the router routinely at various times of day when things go south, and also the modem.  I know all about unplugging and replugging after a wait (I always make it 30 seconds).  Sometimes a soft reconnect on the Linksys status page will do it, and sometimes it takes a hard restart.  But this is for the intermittent, but not daily, outages that occur for all those nameless cosmic and supernatural reasons.  During these recurring evening down times, nothing works.  We are out until something corrects itself, and then it usually comes back by itself.

Do you happen to know if those IP address renewals can be scheduled for some time other than prime time?  Six a.m. would be nice.  Having it go out every evening when I am finally home from work and through with dinner and ready to chill, catch up with e-mail, and play around online is most vexing.


John E 


 26 Nov 2008 23:09 UTCWed 26 Nov 2008 - 11:09 pm UTC 

I wonder if the hard outages aren't simply due to a degraded connection due to a larger number of users accessing the internet through the ISP at those times. During those outages, you should be able to look at your modem page and see if you have a solid connection or if it's seeking one (the lights on the front of the modem can tell you, as well). If that's the case, it's just a limitation on the part of your provider. You might be at such a distance from the main connection that the signal degrades during periods of maximum usage. Making sure that your primary router is at the very first cable input to the house and on as few, high-quality splitters as possible, is about all you can do with that. If the primary router is on a splitter with, say, a TV, you might experiment with using a direct connector and eliminating the splitter (and the TV connection) during the next outage, and see if your connection improves. In rare cases, it might even be due to a common connection with a neighbor whose system somehow degrades your signal when they go online.

As for the renewal time, on the router page, you should be able to see, again, either the number of hours since the last renewal or until the next renewal. You can reset the clock by simply restarting the router at the time you would prefer the cycle to begin, but first, check that same page about an hour before your usual outage time and see how many hours your timer says are left before your next renewal. If you check it at 7:30 and it says you have an hour left before renewal, then you can surmise that the problem coincides with the upcoming renewal.

Otherwise, it seems likely that you're just having signal strength problems at times of peak local activity, or a neighbor's system degrading your signal around the same time everyday.





 27 Nov 2008 02:17 UTCThu 27 Nov 2008 - 2:17 am UTC 

That sounds like serious advice.  Hope it helps.

Less serious thoughts:

"Imagine that I had a wound on my hand that wouldn't heal and that reopened ..."
I hope carpal tunnel syndrome is not still bothering you. 
'Nother thought:
Your computers have a stigmata complex.  (They are serious Catholics, aren't they?)

Change your dinner time.  Read your emails over a cocktail before dinner.
Play pinochle, parcheesi, poker, snakes and ladders, whatever, with the rest of the disgruntled family.

Cheers, Myo




 27 Nov 2008 05:08 UTCThu 27 Nov 2008 - 5:08 am UTC 

A more 'sinister' explanation is a thing called 'traffic management'. Some Internet Service Providers (ISPs) do not like customers that use the internet service heavily. If they think you are an excessive user they group you on a connection with all the other heavy users in the area and the collective connection of the heavy users crawls to snail’s pace or even stops and cuts off. The ISP sees this as a kind of poetic justice, because heavy users slow the internet down for good decent righteous upstanding occasional internet users. It’s a bit like some countries put their hardened criminals in shared cells and turn a blind eye to knives being smuggled in. The offenders become there own punishers. Now very few ISPs openly admit to ‘traffic management’ and very few will admit they are applying it you. It happened to me once and it took me many months to get to the bottom it. The cure is to read your ISP contract. If it mentions anywhere in the small print something like “We reserve to right to manage traffic as we think appropriate” then your best course of action is to change your ISP and never sign another contract that includes those words.


John E 


 27 Nov 2008 06:31 UTCThu 27 Nov 2008 - 6:31 am UTC 


Thanks very much for that added input. That also briefly crossed my mind and I forgot to mention it as a very real possibility.




 1 Dec 2008 00:32 UTCMon 1 Dec 2008 - 12:32 am UTC 

I've had this happen to me before and have personally called my cable internet provider. According to them, it had to do with the cable box. It so happened that when I got it installed, there was a fault in it. Not sure what but my recommendation is that you check with your provider.


John E 


 2 Dec 2008 06:01 UTCTue 2 Dec 2008 - 6:01 am UTC 


I hope your lack of response doesn't mean you've somehow lost your connection on a more permanent basis.

I'm naturally wondering if I've provided you with sufficient information to constitute a satisfactory answer.



Roger Browne 


 10 Dec 2008 10:55 UTCWed 10 Dec 2008 - 10:55 am UTC 

Hi tryx,

You asked for hypotheses, rather than for an investigative approach that might solve the problem by "divide and conquer".

That's a tough order, because the number of possible causes is unlimited (birds landing on the wire that carries the internet signal; neighbors operating power tools that cause a drop in the power line voltage; interference from your dishwasher which you usually operate at that time of night; virus that sends huge amounts of data every 24 hours; etc etc).

I do think the most likely way to resolve your connectivity problems is by a process of elimination.



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