Baffling Internet Connectivity Problem

Discussion in 'A+ Certification' started by Dave Hardenbrook, Oct 6, 2007.

  1. I'm having a problem that has me stumped:

    I built a custom Windows XP Home system for a home user a few weeks ago.
    She has dial-up Internet using an external modem (holdover from her old
    system) connected to the 9-pin COM1 port. Her ISP is AT&T.

    Ever since I set the system up, she's had intermittent connectivity
    problems. She can always dial in to her ISP okay, but once online, she
    has periods -- sometimes days on end -- where no web pages will come up,
    either on IE or Firefox. If I do an NSLOOKUP on random web pages during
    these "outages", I get errors saying the DNS server timed out, but when
    I ping the DNS servers directly, they seem to be okay.

    Her ISP has been AT&T, but she tried switching to PeoplePC -- Same
    problem: Sometimes the web pages are reachable, sometimes not. But she
    can always dial-in and get a connection, so that rules out the modem --
    Or does it?

    I suggested testing her modem and phone line, but she insists that's not
    the problem because she gets great reception when she calls someone on
    the phone, and besides she can always dial-in to her ISP, as I said.
    It's just that once dialed in, no Internet resources are reachable, as
    if the DNS servers were all on vacation.

    If it was just the ISP, I might think they were having "issues" they
    won't admit to (she's spent hours on the phone with their unhelpful tech
    support). But PeoplePC shows the exact same symptoms. And I don't know
    what settings in Windows might be at fault, since the problem is
    intermittent. BTW, she also tried disabling and even uninstalling her
    virus/firewall suite (McAfee), but it made no difference.

    I'm really stuck -- I don't know how to proceed. Any suggestions?

    Dave Hardenbrook, Oct 6, 2007
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  2. Try another modem preferably with a USB port. It could also be the phone
    middle_class_warrior, Oct 6, 2007
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  3. Dave Hardenbrook

    Patty Guest

    Just because she can talk with no problems on the phone line, it doesn't
    mean there's not "noise" there that can be affecting the digital signals.
    Analog voice signals and digital internet signals are not the same. Also,
    if the modem has intermittent problems with converting analog to digital
    and vice-versa, it could also be problematic. I agree with
    middle_class_warrier, try a different modem, preferably a newer one, and
    see if she still has the same problems. Btw, internal modem cards are so
    cheap, I don't know why you skimped on that to use an old external modem
    when building her new system.

    Patty, Oct 6, 2007
  4. Dave Hardenbrook

    Mister Guest

    I just replaced a modem that would connect but do nothing else. Now
    the PC works works fine with the new modem. And get this, they are
    even using AOhelL.
    Mister, Oct 7, 2007
  5. It was her money -- She didn't want to spend money to replace any part
    of her old system that *seemingly* worked okay.

    Dave Hardenbrook, Oct 8, 2007
  6. Dave Hardenbrook

    Patty Guest

    Well, she may have wasted your time and her money, all in all, since she
    now has a system that does not work in getting her on the internet. A new
    internal modem costs anywhere from $4 to $10, a paltry sum. So, she saved
    a couple bucks and now can't get her internet to work. Tsk, tsk. Guess
    she got what she paid for, huh?

    Patty, Oct 9, 2007
  7. Dave Hardenbrook

    Zac Guest

    Have you tried using the "museum piece" modem on another machine? Process
    of elimination - if it works, then the problem is on her machine (unless its
    the COM1 port configuration, and you set it up the same way on both
    machines), if not, try resetting the modem and configuring from scratch, or
    replacing it with the $8 job from the computer fair or compusa.

    Zac, Oct 9, 2007
  8. Dave Hardenbrook

    Tony Guest

    That is a ridiculous statement. It holds as much water as the woman telling the auto mechanic that
    the battery is perfect (even though her car does not start in the mornings) because she bought a new
    one last week. You are the professional. She knows nothing. You need to try a different modem.
    Internet is far more sensitive to line noise than a conversation. If it gets too noisy, the
    connection drops. When talking, you can keep talking and maybe the noise is there and does not cause
    it to disconnect.

    Install a PCI modem and it will probably work. It's a $10 solution. I had a woman like this once and
    as soon as I changed the modem, all was fine.

    Tony, Oct 19, 2007
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