Why is my internet connection suddenly crap, on just ONE computer on my home network?
October 29, 2007 12:42 AM   Subscribe

Why is my internet connection suddenly crap, on just ONE computer on my home network?

I have cable internet from Time Warner (Road Runner), which I've had for 2 months. Their modem connects to my router, a LinkSys WRT54G, which I've had for a couple of years. We have four computers on the network - two desktops wired to the router, and two laptops that connect wirelessly. All run Windows.

Just in the last couple of weeks, the connection on my desktop (Windows XP) has been, intermittently, completely s***. I'm toodling along just fine, and all of a sudden everything slows to a crawl. Or just stops connecting at all for a while. A little while later (5 - 30 minutes or so) it'll be fine, only to do it again an hour later. (Times are estimates; there is no pattern that I can discern.)

The husband's desktop (also XP) will, at the same time, be just fine and dandy. We will try to load the exact same website at the same time, and he will get it in one second while mine will c...r...a...w...l along, often eventually giving up and giving me the "can't connect" error.

Tried firing up the laptops during times when I'm having problems, and they are also fine. It's just my desktop.

I use Firefox (latest version), but the problem seems to appear in Internet Explorer, too.

I sometimes have torrents downloading, and at first I wondered if this was causing a problem -- maybe Time Warner limiting my bandwidth or something -- but having one downloading or not doesn't appear to make a difference. I can not download anything for days, and continue to have connection problems multiple times per day.

I tried plugging my ethernet cable into a different jack on the router. No help.

I tried replacing my ethernet cable. No help.

Since all other computers on the network are fine, and since I can connect to the network (i.e. connect to my husband's PC), I'm assuming it's not the router. Also assuming it's not Time Warner, since all other computers connect fine.

I do not believe anything has been changed in regards to our network, my computer, my browser, etc. My husband doesn't fiddle with such things, and I cannot think of anything I have done or changed since we first moved here and got everything hooked up.

I'm usually a pretty good Google-sniffer, but I'm not coming up with anything helpful for this one. I don't have a clue what the problem could be.
posted by greendress to Computers & Internet (6 answers total)
Could malware be using the bandwidth for some purpose? Have you done a spyware and virus check recently?
posted by -harlequin- at 1:14 AM on October 29, 2007

Also, to troubleshoot a bit more, you can leave a Terminal window pinging some remote host, google.com for example, and see how that goes (how to do that: here).

One of my office computers started doing that, and that was one of the ways we determined that the crappy ethernet card that came bundled with the motherboard was dying.
posted by papafrita at 1:24 AM on October 29, 2007

Try booting the computer off a linux live cd. If you still see that behavior, it's the hardware.
posted by sebastienbailard at 4:04 AM on October 29, 2007

I fixed a computer showing exactly these symptoms recently by replacing the ethernet card. Pinging google showed that many packets were being lost.
posted by DarkForest at 5:42 AM on October 29, 2007

A WRT54G is Wifi, yes? Could there be a computer you don't know about, doing stupid things like claiming your computer's address?
posted by cmiller at 6:09 AM on October 29, 2007

There can be lots of possible issues here:

1. 4 wireless computers running at the same time using network intensive applications like bittorent spells wireless interference to me. If one computer is using the network connection and wireless 100% running torrents you will have connectivity problems with the rest.

2. Reception. Perhaps this computer is farther from the WAP or closer to a source of interference (cordless phone, neighbor's wireless)

3. Security. One of your neighbors could be using your network. If you are still using WEP to encrypt your sessions assume youve be compromised and switch to WPA.

4. Torrents are tough on wireless and wired connections. Your internet connection can only handle so many connections. you can lower your max global connections to something saner like 50.

5. You need to figure out if this is a LAN or WAN/Internet issue. Have you tried pinging the router? Find its IP address. If youre losing packets pinging the router then its probably a wireless issue. If not, its a WAN issue. Does this happen when you arent running torrents?
posted by damn dirty ape at 8:42 AM on October 29, 2007

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