computer freezes when on the internet

Discussion in 'Computer Support' started by mistletoad, Feb 23, 2006.

  1. mistletoad

    mistletoad Guest

    Hello everyone,

    I was not able to find a group the name of which would appear
    most appropriate to my problem, but perhaps someone here will be
    kind enough to help or at least explain what is happening.

    I have been on the net for about 8 years with Win95B (with some
    minor net-related upgrades) and a 33.6 modem and BION everything
    works JUST fine. The system minus internet works fine as well, I
    see the BSOD MAYBE twice a year, etc. So the system is NOT the
    problem. At least I REALLY don't think so. I spent MANY hours
    tweaking it and eliminating stupid Windows problems and since
    than it has been totally problem-free. Really.

    I am however experiencing an intermittent problem which I
    suspect has something to do with some people's relatively new
    hobby of crashing networks and providers with DOS attacks and
    malformed packets etc (I am not that good with this terminology,
    I know how to make my computer live happily but I don't know
    much about networking and the net, so excuse my ignorance).

    I am running an excellent firewall, Black Ice, an old version
    (the new versions won't run on 95B) and have been for about 5
    years I think. It has stopped EVERY attempt at intrusion and
    only ONCE in 5 years I received a red alert, and even that WAS
    stopped. I have tried other firewalls an they do not appear to
    offer ANY advantages, and FWIW, ZoneAlarm crashed my computer
    every time and, it being free, I got no help from them at all,
    and stuck to Black Ice. I regularly check my machine and always
    scan everything for viruses etc etc. So I do not believe any of
    those things can even indirectly be causing the problem.

    Anyway (sorry this is taking a while to explain), the problem
    happens VERY intermittently. Long-term-speaking, i.e. it won't
    happen for weeks or months and then happens several times a
    week, and this time it has been happening every 20 minutes to
    every 2 hours for well over a week. It usually doesn't last this
    long nor is so persistent, but this time it is, so I am writing
    if nothing else to find out what the heck it is.

    What happens is, when I am on the internet, and everything is
    working just fine, my computer will simply freeze and I have to
    reboot. I am used to leaving it running all night dl'g stuff and
    now when I check it in the morning I often find it froze an hour
    after I went to sleep. Etc. VERY annoying. The file I was dl'g
    is size 0, although I have recovered some of them just with
    scandisk and they (not all but most) seem to end with about 30
    lines of jumble which sometimes corresponds to my Usenet group
    list, sometimes appears to be a list of servers from some remote
    part of the world in alphabetical order, and sometimes something
    totaly unrecognizable. I will hapily provide a couple of samples
    if it will help someone to help me with this.

    Since DOS attacks and malformed packets and other ways of
    crashing big systems have been somewhat in vogue recently, I
    suspect it is something of this nature that is causing the
    problem. Something that Black Ice will not let "enter" my system
    nonetheless manages to freeze it. It has never caused any actual
    damage except the waste of hours of time when the computer which
    is supposed to be dl'g sits there eating up electricity and
    doing nothing until I look at it again, which as I said, is
    often not until the next day or several hours later when I
    return home or whatever.

    Am I at all on the right track and is there any way to stop this
    from occurring? My ISP provider has millions of customers and
    occasionally the line I am connected to simply stops working. I
    suspect it's the same thing on their system. I just redial and
    get another line, and everything is fine. Except, as I said, for
    about a week or two now, it will freeze after 2 or 3 hours, and
    sometimes after 15 minutes. A few days ago it made it through
    about 10 hours and I thought the sys ops around the world
    finally killed the problem, but it was back the same evening.

    I am signed up and pre-paid with this ISP for another 11 months
    (have been using them for about 5 years now) and while they are
    a despicable monopoly, and when I first tried them 8 years ago
    the service was totally unacceptable, it is now fine. I don't
    know, but I don't THINK it has to do with the ISP. And there is
    really no other decent ISP available in the 3rd world country
    where I live.

    While I often see replies to other people's problems which
    mainly consist of some equivalent of "your system is trash, get
    a 3GB machine with Linux (or XP) and your problems will be over
    " I don't accept that attitude unless conclusively proven with
    some facts. As I said, this only happens a few times a year, has
    never been THIS persistent, and the system when not connected to
    the internet works perfectly, however difficult it may be to
    believe for fans of the latest technologies.

    I would appreciate any comments or suggestions.
    Thank you.
    m.
     
    mistletoad, Feb 23, 2006
    #1
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  2. mistletoad

    PC Guest


    m.

    Sifting through your somewhat longish ramble :) I perceive you problem is
    most likely on 'your' PC.
    Malformed packets, DOS attacks may well stop Internet data flow, crash
    websites etc, but they will not 'freeze' your PC.

    A PC that freezes has two possible causes:
    1 Hardware, 2 Software.

    Hardware causes in general revolve around Heat (seized or blocked fans),
    dodgy connections on cables, cards and IC's. Power supplys reaching the end
    of their natural life can also cause unpredictable 'flakeyness'. Other
    possibilities include power surges damaging modems and power supplies,
    motherboard capacitors self destructing, screws coming loose........
    You indicate your PC is 'not new'. As such you will have to accept the
    possibility that there is a point where even the most expensive and up till
    now most reliable of hardware does reach a 'time to upgrade' point.

    Software causes are best attacked by methodically disabling or uninstalling
    software till the problem goes away, then reinstalling as suits.
    It is also not without probablility that older Anti Virus/Spyware products
    and firewalls are unable to detect and remove newer 'bugs' despite what you
    'hopefully' think.

    Not advising you to go spend lots of cash, but to face the fact things do
    'age'

    Interested to hear your progress.

    Cheers
    Paul.
     
    PC, Feb 23, 2006
    #2
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  3. mistletoad

    PC Guest


    m. and addendum:

    Sign I saw a couple of years ago on a PC service departments counter.

    "Please note repairs to Computers over 2 years old only carry a warranty on
    new parts "

    The explanation they gave was their experience was that PC's older than that
    invariably had several more problems hidden in the background,
    paticularly once they had cracked the box and started moving things inside.

    This ties in with my experience though I would have said nearer the 4/5 year
    mark rather than 2 years.

    Paul.
     
    PC, Feb 24, 2006
    #3
  4. mistletoad

    Whiskers Guest

    Like PC, I would suspect a hardware fault - starting with dust and then
    looking at fans that don't blow any more, or not always.

    If your modem is in internal one, it may be overheating simply from the
    work-load - and if it's a 'software modem' it will be putting a load on
    the entire system. So a replacement may be due even if the rest of your
    system is still in good order. External modems are less prone to
    overheating, and are easier to re-boot without having to re-boot
    everything else, and if you get a 'real' hardware modem, that will put
    almost no strain on the main computer.

    A telephone line fault can cause the internet connection to be lost
    without the modem being triggered to 'disconnect' [1]. Most software would
    eventually time out anyway, but some programs don't always behave quite so
    sensibly and could just sit there waiting for human intervention -
    particularly if the modem hasn't told them that the connection has
    stalled.

    I don't know how realistic it is to keep an obsolete and
    no-longer-supported operating system properly patched against all the new
    threats and exploits that keep being invented or found. 'Anti-virus' and
    'spyware detectors' and 'firewalls' can only go so far, and your old
    'firewall' program can only intercept or warn you about things that its
    creator programmed into it.

    If you are in the habit of downloading 'stuff' then you are engaging in a
    high-risk activity.

    In my country, dial-up ISPs often include a condition in their terms of
    service, to the effect that no equipment shall be left unattended while
    connected to the internet - and some will break any connection that looks
    'suspicious' or which exceeds a certain time limit, or for an account that
    has reached a certain level of 'traffic' within a day or week or month.
    And sometimes their own modems are 'flaky'.

    Telephone companies sometimes dislike having their lines tied up
    indefinitely by one user, and 'voice' calls will take precedence. They
    all have a great many more customers using their lines for internet access
    now, than they did 8 years ago - but they don't necessarily have any more
    available 'bandwidth', so traffic jams are becoming more common.

    [1] A software modem that 'hangs' or 'crashes' when the telephone line
    misbehaves, may well do strange things to the other software running on a
    Windows system.
     
    Whiskers, Feb 24, 2006
    #4
  5. mistletoad

    mistletoad Guest

    Dear PC and Whiskers:

    I very much appreciate your replies and suggestions. And I
    apologize for not being more concise. I just can't seem to be
    able to compress my thoughts into words effectively. (The
    following being another example - my sincere apologies.)

    You were very polite not to say what most people would have
    said - and on occasion, I myself have said to people with
    constant problems with older PC's. (I know an idiot who
    insists on running XP on a 266. The only reason he can barely
    do so AT ALL is that he somehow happens to have 256MB of RAM.
    Still, he can not even defragment his (unpartitioned,
    needless to say) 40GB drive. And he has CONSTANT problems. I
    looked inside his computer and after I blew out about a pound
    of dust, one of the flat HD cables literally fell apart in my
    hand. I didn't even know that could happen! Anyway, another
    story.)

    I usually try to follow a logical thread when faced with a
    problem. You start with the biggest circle and close in.

    1) WHEN it happens.

    Without the internet connection, the system works perfectly
    whether it has been off for 3 days or on for 2 weeks
    straight. It does't hang, freeze, make noises, etc. The two
    times I can remember seeing the BSOD was when I did something
    stupid like running several very mem-intensive programs at
    the same time, so it was my fault, not the machine's. And
    even more memory couldn't help since 95 can't use more than
    64MB. I admit there are things I can NOT do with my computer
    (like play games at 100fps in 3-D - which does not interest
    me - or convert a music file to another format (takes like 3
    hours per song on the 166 but I have another computer with a
    2GB P4 which does that stuff in seconds or minutes).

    As I said, WHEN ON the internet, is when the "freeze"
    happens. When I use the term "freeze" I mean I can't do
    ANYTHING. ALT-TAB does nothing, mouse won't respond,
    ALT+CTL+DEL does nothing, it just sits there without a sound.
    I respect your opinion and I admit I know almost nothing
    about this, but so far it is just one opinion. And people ARE
    getting more and more clever about screwing up the internet.

    Since it ONLY EVER happens when I am online, logic would
    dictate THAT is causing the problem, wouldn't it? It COULD be
    the modem, but it a very good pre-3com internal USR 33.6
    which has worked flawlessly once I got it set up right about
    6 years ago. I know software modems are crap and that's why I
    bought the USR. It cost me over a hundred dollars 8 years
    ago. And like I said, the peculiar intermittence of the
    problem does not fit in even with the "common and often
    unsolvable largely because of the intermittence" computer
    problems we all have experienced or at least heard of.

    If I lived in a normal country, I could get an external
    Motorola for like 20 bucks - even though I don't think it
    would solve the problem (I could of course be wrong) but here
    I would have to shell out well over a $100 - objectively
    speaking, more than my entire 166 system is worth. And I
    refuse to buy a crappy Chinese modem for $25 either. And so
    far, I see no need for any of these actions.

    2) Computer condition.

    I clean my computer regularly, there are no clogged up fans, no
    noises, etc etc. I have an extra fan in it, even though
    AFAICT it isn't even needed in a machine with a 166. But I
    turn it on sometimes on very hot days. It appears to make no
    difference whatsoever except for the noise it makes.

    Because of where I live, I have an AC line regulator and an
    APC UPS which has also performed flawlessly for about 8
    years.

    I have been inside the computer often enough to know there is
    nothing loose, making funny noises or turning weird colors. I
    have sometimes not connected to the net for a week a time and
    nothing ever happened. It simply runs perfectly.

    Re: computers older than 4 or 5 years (or even 2) being NG.
    Mine is the living proof of this not necessarily being the
    case. When I had it built, I had to have the MB replaced 3
    times. And a few other minor things. (There IS no more
    quality control as you know.) But once it was running right,
    it has remained running right to this day. The only thing I
    have ever upgraded was the HD. Using an anti-static strap
    (which most technicians don't even bother with).

    Another example - I also happen to have an HP Vectra 486/66
    with 16MB of Ram (which I bought used so who nows WHAT it has
    been through) which also runs perfectly. I added RAM and a
    CD-drive to it (had to make a hole in the top and it sits on
    the box) and it still runs perfectly. I put a 28.8 Supra
    modem in it and I can even connect to the Internet (although
    it is slow as hell). I am sure you all know SOMEONE with an
    eqaually old computer which still works fine.

    I suppose as a test, I could connect the Vectra to the
    internet at the same time (the 2GB P4 machine has no modem)
    and do exactly the same thing and see if one or both freeze
    if they do at all. But I have been told in no uncertain terms
    to get a second line and leave the first one alone by a
    rather important member of my family. I had the occasional
    "freeze" problem with the old line and I still have it with the
    new one. And since the problem is extremely intermittent in a
    long-range sense, just connecting the Vectra will prove nothing
    - unless I am "lucky" enough to get a "freeze" right away, which
    is fairly unlikely.) Sigh.

    3) Protection.

    The Black Ice may be old, but it is designed (and set to
    highest protection level) to block ALL entries into my
    machine. The basic net protocols have not substantially
    changed in decades, AFAIK. In fact, I had to manually add a
    "permitted" address because it would not even let in an
    atomic clock time adjustment!

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but aside from the fact that all the
    virus scares have just become great money makers for several
    corporations (although the F-Prot for DOS continues to be free
    and is as good as anything else), all it takes to not get a
    virus is common sense, just like with 4-dimensional viruses and
    diseases.

    If 80% of people didn't use IE/OE for browsing and mail and
    didn't keep on clicking on unknown files with no extensions
    (thank you Microsoft) or with exe or scr extensions, having
    virus problems would be a rarity.

    I use the DOS version of F-Prot which I upgrade every month
    or two and the current version of Spybot-S&D. In 8 years I
    have only once ever gotten a virus - in an email from a
    friend - it couldn't do anything because I have various
    prevention measures in place (like I have removed all
    script-related files from win sys), but it was still a bear
    to get rid of.

    And once when installing a cracked program I got a call-home
    file installed but since I use InControl for every install
    (and even some exe's on occasion), I saw it and deleted it.

    (With all due respect, please, no preaching. I happen to
    believe all software for non-profit use should be free - as
    some software makers do as well - see below - and most of the
    cracked programs I install and play with for 10 minutes,
    never use, and delete. I have OTOH paid both for the basic
    retail programs I have as well as for several free ones which
    I use all the time and whose authors deserved the money far
    more than a greedy corporation making a bloated and
    overpriced version of something an old and free DOS or Win3
    program can do just as well. (OF COURSE times are changing and
    there are exceptions. Still, one of the GREATEST (and flawlessly
    running even on my 95B) programs I have ran across, "Paperless
    Printer" IS free for non-profit use. Just one example.

    I have TaskInfo 2000 which I turn on at least a couple of
    times a day to make sure nothing nefarious is happening. And
    I do not run quite a few of the "necessary services"
    Microsoft continues to bestow more and more of upon us.

    And AFAIK, it is the latest net software (especially Microsoft's
    - of which I only have about 95% of what Win 95B came with) that
    the newest threats are designed to crash. Anyway, I don't
    crash, I freeze (see description above).

    4) Possible software problems.

    There is a lot of crappy software around but I have none of it
    on my machine. I won't even install MS Office. There are dozens
    of perfectly good (or better) free WP's and spreadsheets which
    are 1/100 the size and run better. All in all, it is a fairly
    simple setup because I realize its limitations. Like I said,
    for stuff that needs a newer machine, I have the 2GB P4
    unit.

    AFA downloading "stuff" being dangerous, I guess I am just
    one of the many hundreds of millions living on the edge.
    99.9% of what I DL is music, and while some genius invented a
    way to make a jpg screw up someone's machine if they open it
    in IE/OE, AFAIK no one has done that with an mp3 or flac or
    ape file yet. Anyway, I scan EVERY single file I ever dl
    before I do anything with it, even those that can not
    possibly be harmful.

    5) Telco problems.

    Even though I live in a country with a fascist telephone
    monopoly, to my constant amazement I only get disconnected
    every 8 hours - and I don't even need a ping program to stay
    connected if I don't do anything for 3 hours!

    -- -- --

    Anyway... I already apologized for the length of my posts. I
    just can't help it.

    Once it becomes indisputable that something in my computer or
    modem is the problem, I will just bite the bullet and build a
    new machine for the internet (even though I will put 98SE
    Lite on it and just get a 56K modem).

    But I am still not convinced. Like I said, I appreciate your
    comments very much, but I will wait to see if anyone has
    anything else to say.

    FWIW, the "freeze" has not happened in about 20 hours. Some
    people claim that although a computer is made of plastic,
    steel and glass etc, it still requires a variety of "magical
    spells" for its semi-neural connections to learn to live in
    harmony. Maybe spending 2 hours writing a post is a spell of
    sorts.

    Thanks again and we'll see what happens.

    m.

    P.S.
    Just in case it may help someone make sense of my problem, I
    am including 4 "tail ends" of some music files I was
    downloading on various occasions when the machine froze. I
    find number 4 the most interesting as its end appears (upon
    closer inspection) to be a list of servers or something like
    that, which could indicate the trail of something nasty which
    ended up freezing the machine.

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    mistletoad, Feb 24, 2006
    #5
  6. mistletoad

    PC Guest

    snip
    Good possibility, so have you tried substituting it with another modem?
    Doesn't have to be flash as long as it works and is different.

    Have you tried a different Browser, download manager, reinstalling Windows?

    (more snipping)

    Looks like cross linked files.

    One thought; Win 95 was not that good at managing memory and it was not
    uncommon for programs to 'leak' memory and use up all the 'System' resources
    causing the PC to do some very odd things just before locking up.

    Any way if you really want to find the cause divide the problem in half,
    then divide that in half again etc.

    eg, divide at the phone socket, get the other PC you mentioned and see if
    that locks up, (sorry you are just going to have to do it)
    If it doesn't lock up then the Telco side looks OK. Candiates halved.
    Next divide at the software /hardware boundary by booting off a Linux CD and
    see if it locks up then while browsing the web/downloading.
    Obviously if it still locks up then it's got to be a hardware problem, if
    it's OK then there is a software problem.

    Just follow the divide in half rule till you narrow the problem down to the
    hardware or software unit that is causing the lockup.

    Final comment:
    "The only thing I have ever upgraded was the HD. Using an anti-static strap
    (which most technicians don't even bother with)"
    Once you have seen the relative nonchalance with which boards are handled
    during manufacture you too would not be to worried about AS straps,

    Cheers
    Paul.
     
    PC, Feb 24, 2006
    #6
  7. mistletoad

    mistletoad Guest

    Thank you VERY much for the follow-up full of VERY good ideas.
    Putting the Supra in my machine had not occurred to me (du-uh).
    Linux is sort of OOTQ since I don't have anything Linux around
    and am also too dumb to get into it. Of course, the problem is
    so intermittent I could be stuck with a Supra 28.8 for weeks and
    never get a freeze. But it is worth a try I think. Thank you.
    I use OffBy1 and Opera 7 something and XNews. Opera crashes
    sometimes - but I rarely use it, OffBy1 is a hundred times
    faster and I never see popups or java or flash garbage.

    I have used FileHound for ages, and I have a perfectly-set up C
    image backed up which I occasionally restore if something weird
    happens. None of this seems to affect the problem at hand.
    (Which, amusingly enough, STILL has not occurred since I first
    posted this.)
    Yes, but WHY? and HOW? I don't know if that question can be
    answered. And while the list of NG's MAY come from my own newsrc
    and the DL queue obviously comes from Xnews, the "server list"
    certainly does not. It is either a trail or something from some
    DNS along the way.
    Since I installed a memory manager I have never had problems. I
    don't run many programs at once (and I like small programs), and
    always watch the memory status on my taskbar. And my free RAM
    almost never falls below 16MB and I have only seen "out of
    system resources" message like twice in the last few years. Then
    I usually just reboot. Again, has no effect on the "freeze".
    Good idea, but I can't have them connected at the SAME time,
    although I could switch between them, every 30 minutes or so. Is
    this what you mean?
    Chuckle. I know, sometimes I am amazed that ANYTHING works at
    all. Not sometimes, almost constantly, actually.

    Thanks again, Paul. It's really nice to run into someone so
    helpful.
    m.
     
    mistletoad, Feb 24, 2006
    #7
  8. mistletoad

    mistletoad Guest

    ==================

    Hi Paul
    thanks again for your former suggestions.

    I put the Supra 28.8 in my freezing 166 machine. As usually
    happens, it froze within 3 minutes of connecting but then there
    were about 24 hrs with no freezes and I actually started getting
    hopeful (thinking that the first 3 minute-after-connecting
    freeze was perhaps due to a "psycho-mechanical" system
    adjustment rather than the usual reason). HAH!. Of course, after
    a day or so it started up again with a vengeance (like 6 or 7
    freezes per 24 hrs.)

    (The funny thing was, even though I was now connecting at 28,000
    instead of 38,400 bps, there was much less speed difference than
    I would have expected. I guess I would probably have a heart
    attack if I ever saw a good BB connection in action. Anyway...)

    Another curious thing that happened with the 28.8 is that while
    previously (as I believe I mentioned) if there were no
    "freezes", I stayed connected for 8 hrs. and then my auto-
    redialer connected me again (for the last 6 years or so with no
    fail). But this time the 28.8 modem would occasionally get an
    "external connection closed" or something (I forget the exact
    words) message and hang up (I looked at the log), sometimes
    after as little as an hour, and always before the standard 8
    hours were up. Then the redial software would reconnect me and
    it would be fine until the next event, whether 15 minutes or 3
    hours later.

    I can't help thinking that either:

    a] the Supra 28.8 is more (or less) sensitive (or just
    different) and responded in this manner to SOME cases of what
    otherwise would have caused a freeze on my end.

    b] The ISP's connection in dealing with the Supra crashed at
    their end instead of freezing me (essentially the reverse of a])

    (It may be worth mentioning that the even though the hardware is
    older, the Supra software is actually dated later than my 95B OS
    files, so it did not screw anything up system-wise. And I did a
    C image restore before I put the USR back in.)

    One good thing was that I saw that I have a couple of PCI slots
    free - I forgot I did (both modems are ISA). So I could get a
    new 56K internal modem (assuming I can find something decent in
    this god forsaken dump where I live - I can't web-order because
    the package will just get stolen - it's happened enough times
    and I'm not doing it again). But since the problem happened with
    both modems, I am pretty sure it's either the big bad internet
    or something in my 166 machine - although I still consider this
    doubtful since it ONLY EVER happens when I'm online.

    Since I now know it happens with both modems in the 166 machine,
    I guess next I should connect with the old Vectra, take a dose
    of patience medication and see what happens for a few days. Big
    hassle though, as the Vectra doesn't have a CD writer. But I
    guess I can take out the HD and put it in my machine to copy
    stuff - assuming I manage to download more than a few floppys'
    worth in the first place ;-). And, frankly, I suspect it will
    freeze within a few hours at most. But I could be very wrong.

    IF the Vectra never freezes than it's my 166 machine - right?

    IF the Vectra DOES freeze, then it's got to be something
    outside, i.e. the ISP or the internet as a whole carrying some
    new poison. In either case I'm screwed because there is no
    chance in hell of working out any problems with this ISP (and
    the 2 or 3 other ones are worse), not to mention with the
    hackers (obviously).

    Since I noticed about ten years ago that I seem to be getting
    dumber every day, could you comment on my "logic" and these next
    steps?

    Or perhaps you have another good idea? (After all, it WAS you
    who suggested replacing the USR 33.6 with the Supra 28.8 to see
    what would happen. And it's been a few days, so I am already
    dumber than I was even then. ;-(

    While I really don't want to get a BB connection, just out of
    curiosity - you can probably make an educated guess - do you
    think this could/would happen with a BB connection?

    Sorry to bother you again, and thank you again for being so
    helpful.
    m.
     
    mistletoad, Mar 2, 2006
    #8
  9. mistletoad

    mistletoad Guest

    ======

    ===UPDATE===

    Hi Paul
    thanks again for your former suggestions.

    I put the Supra 28.8 in my freezing 166 machine. As usually
    happens, it froze within 3 minutes of connecting but then there
    were about 24 hrs with no freezes and I actually started getting
    hopeful (thinking that the first 3 minute-after-connecting
    freeze was perhaps due to a "psycho-mechanical" system
    adjustment rather than the usual reason). HAH!. Of course, after
    a day or so it started up again with a vengeance (like 6 or 7
    freezes per 24 hrs.)

    (The funny thing was, even though I was now connecting at 28,000
    instead of 38,400 bps, there was much less speed difference than
    I would have expected. I guess I would probably have a heart
    attack if I ever saw a good BB connection in action. Anyway...)

    Another curious thing that happened with the 28.8 is that while
    previously (as I believe I mentioned) if there were no
    "freezes", I stayed connected for 8 hrs. and then my auto-
    redialer connected me again (for the last 6 years or so with no
    fail). But this time the 28.8 modem would occasionally get an
    "external connection closed" or something (I forget the exact
    words) message and hang up (I looked at the log), sometimes
    after as little as an hour, and always before the standard 8
    hours were up. Then the redial software would reconnect me and
    it would be fine until the next event, whether 15 minutes or 3
    hours later.

    I can't help thinking that either:

    a] the Supra 28.8 is more (or less) sensitive (or just
    different) and responded in this manner to SOME cases of what
    otherwise would have caused a freeze on my end.

    b] The ISP's connection in dealing with the Supra crashed at
    their end instead of freezing me (essentially the reverse of a])

    (It may be worth mentioning that the even though the hardware is
    older, the Supra software is actually dated later than my 95B OS
    files, so it did not screw anything up system-wise. And I did a
    C image restore before I put the USR back in.)

    One good thing was that I saw that I have a couple of PCI slots
    free - I forgot I did (both modems are ISA). So I could get a
    new 56K internal modem (assuming I can find something decent in
    this god forsaken dump where I live - I can't web-order because
    the package will just get stolen - it's happened enough times
    and I'm not doing it again). But since the problem happened with
    both modems, I am pretty sure it's either the big bad internet
    or something in my 166 machine - although I still consider this
    doubtful since it ONLY EVER happens when I'm online.

    Since I now know it happens with both modems in the 166 machine,
    I guess next I should connect with the old Vectra, take a dose
    of patience medication and see what happens for a few days. Big
    hassle though, as the Vectra doesn't have a CD writer. But I
    guess I can take out the HD and put it in my machine to copy
    stuff - assuming I manage to download more than a few floppys'
    worth in the first place ;-). And, frankly, I suspect it will
    freeze within a few hours at most. But I could be very wrong.

    IF the Vectra never freezes than it's my 166 machine - right?

    IF the Vectra DOES freeze, then it's got to be something
    outside, i.e. the ISP or the internet as a whole carrying some
    new poison. In either case I'm screwed because there is no
    chance in hell of working out any problems with this ISP (and
    the 2 or 3 other ones are worse), not to mention with the
    hackers (obviously).

    Since I noticed about ten years ago that I seem to be getting
    dumber every day, could you comment on my "logic" and these next
    steps?

    Or perhaps you have another good idea? (After all, it WAS you
    who suggested replacing the USR 33.6 with the Supra 28.8 to see
    what would happen. And it's been a few days, so I am already
    dumber than I was even then. ;-(

    Sorry to bother you again, and thank you again for being so
    helpful.
    m.
     
    mistletoad, Mar 2, 2006
    #9
  10. mistletoad

    Whiskers Guest

    snip
    The limiting factor restricting your 'speed' may not be your modem.
    In between your modem and your ISP's modem, there is a telephone network.
    Electro-mechanical problems in the telephone network could create exactly
    the symptoms you describe. Only your telephone company can do anything
    about that (apart from you making sure that none of the equipment,
    connectors, or wires on your side of the telephone conection is faulty or
    overloaded).

    Changing from dial-up to xDSL may or may not bypass the problem with the
    telephone system, depending on where the problem is.
    snip

    If you need to use software to operate the modem, then it is a 'software
    modem' or 'winmodem'; that means that if the modem throws a wobbly, it can
    interact with other software running on your Windows system and that may
    be the cause of your 'freezes'. If using a different winmodem with
    different software changes the symptoms, that seems to reinforce the
    possibility that problems with your telephone line are upsetting your
    modem, but different modems react slightly differently and so you get a
    different pattern of 'freezes'.

    Using a real modem (one that has its own hardware for doing everything and
    needs no special software) would isolate the modem from the rest of your
    system and mean that if or when the modem does 'crash' it doesn't take your
    PC with it. The blinking lights on the front of an external hardware modem
    can also indicate more detail about what the modem is actually doing,
    which can help diagnosis of problems - and you can reboot the modem
    without affecting the computer.
     
    Whiskers, Mar 2, 2006
    #10
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