When is a router no longer a router? The sequel.

That didn’t take long. After just over a year of actual, constant usage, the router I ended up finally putting in service last February took that very short drive off the performance cliff. Or perhaps it was a long-ish one I just didn’t really pay attention to. The problem itself took the better part of 3 days to actually narrow down–initially, we blamed our ISP, but quickly discounted that in a matter of a few minutes. The modem was the next guilty party to be blamed–I’d had a small problem with this type of modem before, so it wasn’t about to surprise me if I’d be replacing that. A few tests and diagnostics later, nope, modem’s working perfectly fine. Well hell. I was hoping I wouldn’t need to invent money for replacement parts this quick. so now my sights are set entirely on the router. Yes, the router I’d just replaced already last February. We do our usual routine with all the computers in the house save one running wireless, because that’s just how we role. Things should be flying both around the internal network and past it to the greater internet. Things didn’t end up getting out of first gear in most cases.

It made troubleshooting this issue even harder still, as the desktop I primarily use for 90% of my online work when I’m at home has been experiencing its own good attempts at dialup performance on the network. I was initially blaming the router, but during testing I was getting much better performance from the laptop than the desktop, both of which I was testing wirelessly. Yes, the laptop’s definitely a more powerful machine, but that has no baring on internet speeds these days–a dual core processor should be running just as or nearly as fast on a network set up by an OCD geek as a machine running a core i5 or i7. Well, you’d think, anyway. Testing disproved that. So now, I have a theory. A dangerous thing in my hands, but you’ll have that. The mystery of the dying router was partially hidden, or at least masked, by the compounding suspected issue of the desktop’s card tanking in 18 different directions. Nifty, with the tiny exception of not entirely. Fortunately, or not depending on your perspective, that’s the easiest thing to replace–and the cheapest. It was also the first thing I got things moving in the direction of replacing–hi, Dell technical support. Time for you to actually work for me. Considering you’re working because I’m not, and all. So one phone call later, and yes it took giving out my former Dell employee ID, troubleshooting was bypassed and hello, replacement card under warranty.

So now, we have replaced the router. I am replacing the network card in the initial problem machine. The rest of the wireless equipment? Wayyy too new to be causing problems–unless someone really wants me questioning their compitence. The only questionable piece of hardware that has yet to be gone over with a fine-toothed “don’t you dare fall over” comb is the modem. And honestly, it’s only a gigantic questionmark over here because, er, one of those already blew up in my face. The unstable network should now, barring unforseen small technological implosions, only be a myth in the house of geekery. And if it’s not, I know one ISP who’s going to get really, really tired of hearing from me. Mostly because I’m not looking forward to the next installment of “When is a router no longer a router?”.

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