Plug it in, plug it in...
June 8, 2009 11:01 AM   Subscribe

Modem/Router issues: why does our internet always cut out on one computer on the network, resulting in having to constantly plug/unplug the router to get it working again?

Router: WRT54G, ISP: Comcast.

We have two desktops (PCs) set up in the network, one direct with an ethernet cable, the other wireless. For whatever reason, the computer connected through the ethernet cable has its internet connection spontaneously cut out, sometimes several times throughout the day, which makes for some unusually frustrating surfing.

It's puzzling because all the modem lights are flickering just like normal, and the computer connected wirelessly works fine. Meanwhile, the first computer has an icon displaying that it's connected, but it remains dead and has no upload/download activity. As a result and through trial/error, the only way to get it working again is by unplugging the power to the router, letting it sit for a minute, then replugging and hoping it comes back, which it ostensibly does in more cases than not.

What could be the issue causing this brand of interference?
posted by Christ, what an asshole to Computers & Internet (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You try any alternate firmware? The 54G will run the lighter flavors of the Linux-based firmware. (If it's an older 54G it might run the full thing.)

The built-in firmware sucks ass, in my opinion. Used one for a while but it just was a pain for multiple reasons (really, 54G? You're going to reset the SSID to default every time you restart? Oh, that's just wonderful, thanks ever so much...)
posted by caution live frogs at 11:08 AM on June 8, 2009

I always had problems with my WRT54G router - not exactly the same as yours (as our wireless would crap out, too), but similar. We traced it to a problem with bittorrent traffic, and suffered with reduced uploads/downloads until we could upgrade to a better router.
posted by muddgirl at 11:15 AM on June 8, 2009

When the Internet connection cuts out, can you still browse to the admin address of the router?

Are you running Vista?

I saw a similar problem on a friend's computer that I think was related to the Vista network connection settings, where it pops up and asks what kind of network you're on...public, work or home. The told me it popped up and they selected public. I ended up deleting the network interface and recreating it with the 'home' selection.
posted by IanMorr at 11:28 AM on June 8, 2009

Response by poster: Runs Windows XP, 3-year old Dell, and no, doesn't connect to the admin address (if that's the thing).
posted by Christ, what an asshole at 11:40 AM on June 8, 2009

How do the computers get their IP Addresses? Is the wireless computer using DHCP, and the wired one static? Does the static address overlap into the DHCP pool? Is the router serving DHCP to both sides of the network?
You could also run ipconfig/all on both machines and post that for more detailed help.
posted by TDIpod at 11:49 AM on June 8, 2009

Response by poster: Actually, I forgot to mention that point...sometimes when both computers are turned on, there'll be some caution message about "your computer is trying to get on an IP address that another computer on the network has established." Is that anything related? (We usually just unplug everything per usual and get one running before the other so that they'll work.)

Also, I try running "ipconfig/all" and it tells me Windows cannot find it. I run "ipconfig" and a DOS box pops up for a split second then disappears before I have a chance to see anything.
posted by Christ, what an asshole at 12:00 PM on June 8, 2009

Run 'cmd' first, then ipconfig /all (with a space before the /all).

If there's an IP address conflict, then yes, that's related. Sounds like one device has a static IP and the other is getting a dynamic one.
posted by IanMorr at 12:22 PM on June 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

I've had that problem with several WRT54Gs in my life. Power cycling always seemed to be the necessary and sufficient action. Since then, I've switched to a cheap Buffalo router running dd-WRT, which has needed a power cycling maybe once or twice in as many years.
posted by rxrfrx at 12:24 PM on June 8, 2009

If these 2 computers are the only computers you will have on your network, set them both to have manual IP addresses. Turn off DHCP addressing on the Linksys box. Set one computer to use and the other to use Use a Subnet mask of and a DNS of (the router's IP address) for both machines. Leave the Gateway address blank, or use the same IP as the DNS entry.

If you may have others on your network, leave them both to "obtain IP address automatically".
Here are instructions for either IP setup in XP.
Here are instructions for DHCP on the router
posted by TDIpod at 12:57 PM on June 8, 2009

i've been dealing with this issue for the past few weeks, though with a netgear router, not the linksys. my problem ultimately was caused by a damaged coaxial cable connected to my tv. once i disconnected the cable, my service returned to normal. the cable was spliced before the connection to the modem>router.
posted by lester at 1:41 PM on June 8, 2009

I have the same problem, on a D Link. I figured my router was nearing the end of it's long life. I just looked up the WRT54G, which is about the same age (2002/3ish). Leads me to piggyback question, is there a general "lifespan" for items like routers, or is it generally that they get replaced because technology renders them obsolete while they are still functional?
posted by Kellydamnit at 2:17 PM on June 8, 2009

My experience with the WRT54G* has been exactly the same as you, followed by the same solution as rxrfrx. DD-WRT is amazing. I think I had to power cycle it once. Ever. Shop around online and check to see if your model is supported by DD-WRT here. It was well worth $35 to replace that stupid Linksys POS for good.
posted by JuiceBoxHero at 3:12 PM on June 8, 2009

Response by poster: Yeah, I'm pretty sure it's time to replace this POS. Thanks for all your help, guys.
posted by Christ, what an asshole at 4:34 PM on June 8, 2009

sometimes when both computers are turned on, there'll be some caution message about "your computer is trying to get on an IP address that another computer on the network has established." Is that anything related?

Sounds like the entire problem. Check to make sure both machines are set to obtain IP address automatically (see TDIpod's answer), and then check to make sure they are getting different IPs by typing "ipconfig" at the command prompt on both machines.

Another possibility.. Intermitent problems like this are often due to incompatible MTU settings.

Finally, try using a different LAN port on the router.

A lot of people seem to think routers fail often. This has not been my experience. Don't give up on it so easily, the worst thing that can happen is that you learn some things you really aught to know about. That said, DD-WRT is pretty awesome.
posted by Chuckles at 9:35 PM on June 10, 2009

« Older How do I find these people?   |   What do I absolutely have to include on a 1990s... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.