How to monitor internet connectivity over the course of a day?
March 16, 2023 10:55 AM   Subscribe

I've got an issue with my home internet where the service will cut off for a minute and then come back multiple times a day. I don't know if it's my router or actual internet connection. I'd like something I can run on both networks so I can see if the downtime is on both networks or only on my router so that I can go about fixing the situation.

I've had issues with my internet service since December and a month ago someone came in and put in a temporary line. My first assumption would be that this didn't solve the issue. BUT when I switch my wifi network to the one on my modem I don't notice the connection dropping so maybe it's just my router.

I've got surplus computers and phones/tablets at home so I'm looking for a webpage, Windows program, or Android app that I can put on them and then connect one to each network to see if they both experience downtime or not.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm to Computers & Internet (13 answers total)
Most domestic wifi routers have some kind of logging facility built in. I expect it would be worth your while to have a poke around in your router's admin interface and see if you can find such a thing.

You might need to turn logging on if that wasn't done by default. Best case, logging has always been on and you should be able to see disconnection/reconnection events of some kind happening at around the times where you've seen interruptions. It should be possible to work out whether those are LAN or WAN related.

If what you see instead is router reboot events, then it's probably time to replace the router's power supply (probably a wall wart) and if that doesn't help then replace the router.
posted by flabdablet at 11:12 AM on March 16

Response by poster: The router has an app for managing it and the logs don't show up there, but apparently I can go to the router's web interface and I'll be able to access them, or perhaps I'll have to turn logging on first and then check it after it's been logging for a while. I'll try that when I get home. I'll also make sure that logging on my modem is enabled.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 11:19 AM on March 16

Usually you can't connect any device directly to the WAN side of your connection, so you'd have to rely on the router's logging.
posted by Stoneshop at 11:44 AM on March 16

Best answer: There are Chrome plugins that can do some simple connection monitoring. Example.
posted by JoeZydeco at 12:20 PM on March 16 [1 favorite]

Hey! I've been in a pretty similar situation. Since you said Windows programs are in-scope, Net Uptime Monitor may be what you want. It looks pretty old-school, but it's got what you need. Set it up, & it'll log each time it loses connection, & for how long. Example log:
3/13/2023 6:51:00 PM Log Start
Ping Target 1: - Google
Ping Target 2: - Level3
Ping Target 3: - Cloudflare
Wait for Ping (milliseconds): 200
Test Interval (seconds): 30
Log Failure Longer Than (seconds): 5
Failure Start Length
------------- ------
3/14/2023 1:37:45 AM 0:01:37
LAN OK - responded in 0 ms
3/15/2023 7:25:06 AM 0:00:05
LAN Failed - No router response
3/15/2023 4:46:59 PM Log End
Monitor Duration 45:55:57
Failure Summary:
Count 2
Total Downtime 0:01:43
% Downtime 0.06
Minimum Length 0:00:05
Maximum Length 0:01:37
Average Length 0:00:51

posted by CrystalDave at 5:08 PM on March 16 [1 favorite]

Facing the same situation as you, Google came up with way too many paid utilities that may or may not have worked for my monitoring requirements, eventually I found PingInfoView which is free and worked well enough for my purposes that I ended up not using any other tools. It is pretty similar to the utility CrystalDave links in the comment above this one.

With the report I got, I was able to escape tier-1 support and get my ISP's technical guys to actually look into the issue. In my case the culprit was the modem/ONT, which couldn't handle the load of 40+ devices and so it rebooted every so often when it got saturated. The ISP switched me to a business account and installed a more robust, albeit uglier, modem/ONT. It's been 9 months since then and the issue has never reappeared.
posted by fjom at 8:21 AM on March 17

So - I had many frustrating days of intermitent outages in January - and after spending hours on the phone with my ISP, who swore their modem was working fine, I decided to buy a new wifi router - and all my problems went away - if they didn't, I might have returned it. I never use a combined modem+router, I always want control over my internal network - and many of the cheap combined units tend to overheat and brownout/burnout very quickly.

My old router was about 7-years old, so it was most likely just failing. (Typically these things die very quickly (2 years max), if they are not on a battery-backup UPS - and my last UPS died in the summer and I have not replaced it - so, probably my fault)

New router has even better coverage throughout the house.
posted by rozcakj at 10:19 AM on March 17

Response by poster: I logged into the web interface and it had some logs but it only seems to go back 5 hours and there's a lot of text to go through. I'll hook up some computers and try out the Chrome extension first to see what it gives me.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 10:34 AM on March 17

Usually you can't connect any device directly to the WAN side of your connection

This doesn't matter very much for a simple connectivity test, though; if you're getting ping responses from the router itself but nothing from e.g. Google, you can deduce that the LAN is up but the WAN is down.

For security monitoring, though, it can be really handy to be able to do packet inspection on the WAN side; that's one of the main things that drove me to use a little single-board computer running a general-purpose Debian installation as my own home's Internet gateway.

If you have a router that connects to an upstream modem or ONT over Ethernet, and that router doesn't already give you some inbuilt way to do packet capture on its WAN side, sticking a cheap managed Ethernet switch between the router's WAN port and the modem is one way to get it done. The trick is to set up a couple of VLANs on that switch, so that you can run the WAN connection isolated inside its own VLAN while using a second one to put the switch's admin interface on the LAN. Packet capture happens per physical port on these switches regardless of which VLAN(s) those ports are or are not members of.
posted by flabdablet at 10:35 AM on March 17

Response by poster: I used the Chrome extension recommended by JoeZydeco and the computer connected to the home wifi logged tons of small disconnections while the one connected directly to the modem didn't have any so it looks like my router is the problem. I'll do a factory reset on it today but if that doesn't help things it looks like my next AskMe will be about a new router.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 6:29 AM on March 19

Tons of small disconnections could be interference from another nearby device operating on the same wireless channel. Farproc's Wifi Analyzer is a handy Android app for finding out what's operating in your vicinity.

Might also be worth your while trying your existing router with a replacement power supply brick before sending it off to Happy Router Farm. Faults in mains power supplies outnumber other kinds of electronics failure by about ten to one.
posted by flabdablet at 7:30 AM on March 19

Response by poster: It's not wifi interference because the light on the router turns red which means it has lost connection to the internet. I'll swap out the power supply with the other unit and see if that makes any difference. I'm also going to swap ethernet ports on the modem to see if that does anything.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 7:50 AM on March 19 [1 favorite]

Try a new patch cable as well, if you've got one. You wouldn't think a patch cable would have much chance of going wrong - how hard can it be to connect eight metal pads reliably to eight more metal pads? - but I've seen it happen more than once.
posted by flabdablet at 11:34 AM on March 19 [1 favorite]

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