My series of tubes needs plunging
May 24, 2010 9:35 AM   Subscribe

I currently have a finicky DSL connection. Is there a utility that will give me near-instantaneous status (like a green light/red light on the task bar) on whether I truly have an Internet connection? I use Windows 7.

Short story: An AT&T fiber-optic cable servicing my neighborhood got damaged and currently we're on a temporary cable. The voice landline is staticky and DSL is finicky, and when we have serious problems AT&T just comes out and fixes it up a little and says that's the best they can do until they lay the permanent cable.

My questions are:

1. What Windows utility can tell me almost instantaneously whether I'm truly connected to the Internet or not? Yes, Windows 7 taskbar and Network Connections does have a display of whether the Internet is connected but there is often a lag of many minutes and sometimes it shows "connected" when it really isn't. Currently the only way to find out for sure is to reload in a browser, but caching sometimes gives erratic results. Windows ping doesn't seem to check port 80.

2. What could it mean when I can ping a remote server IP just fine but nothing works in my web browser (i.e. click in Firefox, nothing happens, site eventually times out?) Sounds like some sort of port issue but I don't know why some ports would go down and others would work. This happens a lot and I'm wondering whether I can optimize my DSL or router to deal with this.

3. Just on the off chance, is there any software that specializes in managing damaged Internet connections and can actively do stuff like thoroughly restart Windows connections (getting rid of poisoned stuff) or dealing proactively with the router or DSL? I find that resetting the DSL modem almost always clears up the problems. It's not the DSL modem at fault either, as I tried swapping out the modem and have to deal with the same "modem crash" problems, and there is known damage out there on the telco lines anyway. I don't know why I'm having to do this resetting BS.

Advice, suggestions, comments, stories all welcome.
posted by crapmatic to Computers & Internet (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Also FWIW some relevant details:
Router: WRT54G v4
DSL: currently D-Link DSL-2540B, also have an Actiontec GT724R modem on standby but it seemed to crash more with this connection
posted by crapmatic at 9:38 AM on May 24, 2010

If you can directly ping an IP but navigating to sites in FF sounds like a DNS problem. I would try overriding your ISP provided DNS with a free one (like OpenDNS or Google DNS and see if that cures your problem. Your ISP provided DNS could be having issues, not your connection.
posted by msbutah at 10:07 AM on May 24, 2010 [2 favorites]

Also for a constant status check I know there is a tray utility that shows a happy face when you're online, a sad one when you're not, but I can't remember what it's called. You could setup an ICQ or Google Talk IM client that, with a quick glance at the tray icon, would be able to tell you if you were online or not.
posted by msbutah at 10:08 AM on May 24, 2010

Thanks all.... thanks msbutah... the IM idea never occurred to me. I did have the OpenDNS in my router but not Google DNS; I added that to line #3 for the DNS lookup.

Wow, I am really amazed this askme has had almost no responses; people's broadband must be pretty reliable.
posted by crapmatic at 7:54 PM on May 24, 2010

Mine is terrible too, and I'd love to hear ideas for how to troubleshoot it. I haven't watched a YouTube video start to finish in months.
posted by Four Flavors at 3:12 PM on May 25, 2010

« Older Baby needs new games!   |   American TV series on DVDs in French? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.