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296 posts

Ultimate Geek


Topic # 57644 20-Feb-2010 12:33
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This problem has been going for some time (months) - but today it's so bad I've finally decided to see it there are any people here with minds warped enough to suggest my next step.

I take my Asus laptop (with XP) between work and home. My wife does the same with her ASUS laptop. The difference between work and home is that we have TelstraClear's cable connection at work - that's not available at home (just 2-3 km away) so there we connect via Xnet. As at home, there are just two of us at work.

My wife's system is fine. Mine is fine at work - but driving me beserk at home, not connecting smoothly to the Internet. It has done in the past - and it still usually connects eventually - but often runs through a period where my network connection is flaky. Today it's worse than flaky - it's unuseable. I've turned on the wireless networking just so I can connect for now.

So two laptops on the same networks - one problem. We've connected mine with my wife's cable - with no change (we haven't changed cables at the other end so we've tested both cables and router connection. This would suggest to me the problem is definitely in my machine. BUT (speaking very quietly so as not to tempt fate) I don't have problems at work - it connects fine there.

So I just can't figure where to go next. Any ideas?

Thanks

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  Reply # 300508 20-Feb-2010 12:58
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Perhaps old drivers loaded for the network adapters? Perhaps your machine is not using automatic network settings (DHCP) or there's a DNS configuration there that shouldn't?

You should try to connect to your home network and run IPCONFIG /ALL > file.txt. Copy and paste file.txt here.







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Ultimate Geek


  Reply # 300516 20-Feb-2010 13:24
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Stupid problem. I stopped wireless network, and started cabled network - and of course it's working fine.

I don't understand your first comment - the drivers are the same at work and home.

I'm not using dhcp - but work and home are using the same settings - and my wife has no problems and I didn't used to - and as far as I can recall there's been no changes. The only changes we make between work and home are the host settings for sending e-mail. As you'll see we have both hosts on so we get other stuff without changing settings.

BTW my memory isn't what it was - I had a stroke 3 years ago - and things were getting worse until the day after Labour Day last year I had a sudden and dramatic recovery - physcially and mentally. Still some small short term memory problems - went on a day-long Xero course recently and the following day discovered that was a bit long for my mind - but still only got two wrong in the on-line follow-up test.

Anyway here's ipconfig output - and you'll note the two different DNS servers used for outbound mail. I did wonder if that might be causing problems - bit why not with my wife's system? All very confusing.

Windows IP Configuration

Host Name . . . . . . . . . . . . : asusintel
Primary Dns Suffix . . . . . . . :
Node Type . . . . . . . . . . . . : Unknown
IP Routing Enabled. . . . . . . . : No
WINS Proxy Enabled. . . . . . . . : No

Ethernet adapter Local Area Connection:

Connection-specific DNS Suffix . :
Description . . . . . . . . . . . : Atheros L1 Gigabit Ethernet 10/100/1000Base-T Controller
Physical Address. . . . . . . . . : 00-1D-60-D1-F5-6B
Dhcp Enabled. . . . . . . . . . . : No
IP Address. . . . . . . . . . . . : 192.168.0.2
Subnet Mask . . . . . . . . . . . : 255.255.255.0
Default Gateway . . . . . . . . . : 192.168.0.1
DNS Servers . . . . . . . . . . . : 203.96.152.4
58.28.4.2


 
 
 
 


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  Reply # 300526 20-Feb-2010 14:46
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Just to clarify, the connection is now back to flaky - it keeps saying Local Area Connection - A network cable is unplugged. And then it says it's now connected. Perhaps 10 seconds or so between - unless I'm waiting to see exactly the wording in which case it doesn't come up. This is from the network icon at bottom right of the screen.

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  Reply # 302048 25-Feb-2010 12:47
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If I may be so bold as to ask a question, is it possible that the laptops aren't being shutdown between sites. What I'm suggesting is that if they are being put to "sleep" or in hibernation that may give rise to some of the issues experienced. Different systems may well react in different ways. Of course the suggestion that you are getting "disconnects" from LAN cable may well exclude this "sleeping" as a possibility. That generally points to a flakky connection point, either cable, socket or both. If the socket you would likely experience same issue at work.



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  Reply # 302052 25-Feb-2010 13:00
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I have never been overly comfortable with "sleeping" laptops - so I do a full shut down almost every time between home and work. Good thought though.

As for the flaky connection - I don't have any symptons at work (only two of us so like at home - cabling to router around walls). Swapping my cable with my wife's doesn't cause problems on hers - or stop problems on mine.

That has made me realise another difference between work and home - don't think it makes any difference - but I mention it anyway. Work is on Paradise's cable setup - that doesn't come up our hill - so we're on Xnet at home.

I guess it's nice to know at least no-one's got an obvious answer I've missed - since my stroke I can make some elementary mistakes.

Thanks

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  Reply # 302093 25-Feb-2010 14:08
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The DNS servers for your network connection are telstra's (makes sense as your work uses telstra)

However when you get home your ISP is xnet but you're still trying to use telstra's DNS servers, some ISP's don't allow external use of their DNS servers - I don't know if telstra does or not.

Try changing the DNS server to 192.168.0.1 or xnet's DNS servers and see if that works.



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  Reply # 302103 25-Feb-2010 14:24
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If you look at the DNS servers, one is telstra, one is xnet - to allow us to use either. I know it's not normal - but it has been working for many years. But I will change the sequence of these and see what happens. That will be interesting. However I'm not very hopeful because my wife's setting is the same (being a bear of little brain I always try to keep things consistent and simple). Also mine used to be OK and AFAIK nothing has changed. So we'll see how that goes. I'm not sure what changing the DNS server to the same address as my router would do - that seems strange?

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  Reply # 302154 25-Feb-2010 15:57
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You did say above that you get the error messages "a network cable is unplugged". This does point to the link (keep alive packets) stopping for a period. Some other suggestions:
1. Determine if perhaps the other laptop is doing some extra heavy downloading at the time, perhaps this is overloading the router/switch and your system doesn't get a keep alive packet in time. Suggest remove other laptop and see if your's still gets the message.
2. This is a bit outside the square but consider burning a Live Linux Distro (these don't require to be installed on hard drive) and running that on the laptop with the errors, see if a similar error message will still appear, this can discount the OS being at fault if error msgs still appear, or point to an OS/driver problem if no error msgs in Linux.

I don't think DNS, DHCP or anything like that is the issue, they won't give you the error message you are getting. But given you are using DNS from both sites to attempt to cover all bases, consider using Google's DNS servers. Yes, Google now has public DNS servers, namely on 8.8.8.8 and 8.8.4.4, see http://code.google.com/speed/public-dns/

Good luck, keep the info coming, I love a good bunfight with hardware and configs



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  Reply # 302169 25-Feb-2010 16:23
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At worst times (which prompted my first message) it alternates between unplugged / connected every second or two. It hasn't been that bad since - but it's still annoying.

We don't usually use the internet heavily - we might upload a few website pages, or download MS fixes. And now and then I use TeamViewer. But our useage isn't heavy - mainly e-mails - especially at home. I can't remember what my wife was doing at the time - but she was out last night when I had problems (just not as heavily).

Obviously at times like this I wish I still had eCS installed - now I've recovered from the stroke I probably wouldn't have the problems supporting it that forced me to abandon it. I don't know if I can face Linux - but we'll see how we go.

I'll certainly trry the DNS numbers you give and see how that goes.

Thanks very much for your thoughts. I'll let you know how things go.


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  Reply # 302178 25-Feb-2010 16:37
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PhilANZ: If you look at the DNS servers, one is telstra, one is xnet - to allow us to use either. I know it's not normal - but it has been working for many years. But I will change the sequence of these and see what happens. That will be interesting. However I'm not very hopeful because my wife's setting is the same (being a bear of little brain I always try to keep things consistent and simple). Also mine used to be OK and AFAIK nothing has changed. So we'll see how that goes. I'm not sure what changing the DNS server to the same address as my router would do - that seems strange?


Sorry only looked at the first one, are you sure you haven't got anything else on the network with the same IP address as your PC?



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Ultimate Geek


  Reply # 302188 25-Feb-2010 16:52
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Well, I'm fairly sure - we've been set up this way for a long time (well before my stroke). The only thing we've done is last year reduce the network - our children left home and so we disconnected the extra router we used to have going down to their rooms. it's been a while - and the poblem occurs whichever prot I'm connected to (which used to be on different routers) - but I'm now wondering if that's all right. So long since we checked and I can't remember. I think we removed the second router but my memory could be playing tricks - but I'll check tonight.

As for IP addresses - we have the router, the two laptops, and a laser. I don't think there's anything else now we're home alone. The lasers are marginally different between work and home - same basic device but the office one has a fax / copier / scanner on top. They both use the same IP address, but for some functions we need to choose the specific driver - for others it just works as normal.

Thanks

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  Reply # 302306 25-Feb-2010 20:56
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Another suggestion, change only one thing at a time and test. Consider also starting from scratch. Eliminate (temporarily) all unnecessary devices plugged into the network. So in your instance, only the 1 router and your laptop and see how it goes. If alls well then add in say the laser and test again, then add the second laptop and test again. It's generally going to be just 1 device or system that's causing the problem. By doing the above you essentially divide the problem up into smaller pieces eliminating as you go. You need to do this to narrow the focus onto hopefully 1 or maybe 2 areas of concern, whether they be devices (hardware) or device drivers (software).

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  Reply # 302310 25-Feb-2010 21:08
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PhilANZ: I have never been overly comfortable with "sleeping" laptops - so I do a full shut down almost every time between home and work. Good thought though.


certainly shouldnt need to do that.  i have been sleeping my laptop between work and home for years  - XP, Vista, Windows 7 - with no issues.

As for the intermittent network connection, check to see that the NIC is set to AUTO for speed - not set manually to 100mbps full duplex etc, as that can cause instability if the switch is set to auto sensing.  Also attempt to disable the 'cable detect" functionality on the NIC if it has it.  sometimes the network ports can be damaged (have noticed it on a few IBM servers) and cable detect either doesnt work at all, or detects 100mbps cables instead of 1Gbps etc.

The DNS settings could also potentially be causing you grief,  why are you not running DHCP at home and at work?  then you could have the correct DNS served up at each location.  Unless you're port forwarding traffic from the internet to the laptop, you shouldnt really need the IPs to be static.




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Ultimate Geek


  Reply # 302423 26-Feb-2010 11:14
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Well, I changed the ip addresses from the two ISP's I use to the google ones, and surprise surprise the problems vanished. This raises more questions than it answers (not least of which is why has my wife's system not exhibited any signs of problems with the same settings) - so I'll wait and see if the problems return at any stage - but last night was very peaceful.

As for sleeping laptops - I guess I got in the habit of shutting down because my major OS was eCS (formerly OS/2). I had to use Windows for some apps professionally - and when I had my stroke it was easier for my wife to solve problems (mainly between keyboard and laptop ) under Windoze.

My NIC is set to auto speaad (don't know if I even knew that setting was there before) and I can't see a "cable detect" parameter.

As for why I'm not using DHCP, that's another good question. It goes back to the old coax cables we used to have - and I have no recollection why it was like it is. Today it's the old "if it ain't broke don't fix it".

Anyway, I still don't know what the problem was - but the past tense seems at this stage appropriate.

Thanks for all the help.

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  Reply # 302462 26-Feb-2010 13:22
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Well I'm glad it seems fixed, but I'm a sceptic. I felt sure they were driver or hardware issues so changing the DNS entries shouldn't have (I thought) produced such a difference. To clarify what might be happening is that by hedging your bets and only having 1 DNS from each ISP in your DNS listing you were effectively cutting yourself off from potential help. Most large systems will have at least 2 (if not more) DNS servers they can call upon to reply to queries on where websites are. In your case you could only call upon 1 at each site. If that DNS server failed to respond in a timely fashion normally the PC would query another one in the list, your's couldn't as that 2nd entry would likely have been denied as you weren't in it's "zone of responsibility" (weren't authenticated as being able to use it). Now ordinarily I'd say that would just mean any website you were surfing would come up as "unable to reach" and not the "network cable unplugged" issue.

As someone else said having DHCP enabled would allow the correct DNS servers to be served up to your PC regardless of which location they were running from. Then you'd get 2 for each location you use the laptop at, and never have to worry about changing settings.

However given this has (seemed to) worked I'd suggest add back in the normal devices such as other laptop, printer (2nd router if it was used) and continue as you are. Give it a week or so to confirm that it really seems to have solved the issue.

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