Home and Small Office Network’s Worst Nightmare

by Tech on November 23, 2011

Yes, the answer to most all problems on small networks is related to power. Why? Well the quality of equipment used combined with the quality of electrical service is just more than one can expect for 100% reliability. To stay competitive manufactures now build power supplies that run your router, wireless router, switch, modem, or AP that lack the components to handle momentary outages or small surges coming from your electrical outlet. A computer component rated for home use such as a router or modem also does not incorporate the parts needed to provide constant electricity during these electrical events that we can easily see on a day to day basis here in Costa Rica.

The worst case scenario is a brief interruption in power. This is where the electricity goes off and on all in less than a second. Many times we never see any sign of this because it happens so fast, but computer related network equipment completely locks up and your network and/or internet connectivity is gone. This can cause you to lose an email, document, banking connection, phone call, and in some cases your router might lose it’s full configuration requiring you or a tech to reprogram the whole thing. The user in many cases feels it’s the Internet Service Providers fault and immediately calls in and wants support and that can lead into a long and dreary road in some cases.

What we refer to as “Powercycling” (yes the correct spelling is power cycle) could just be your magic fix. This is the process of unplugging the power to the equipment for a short period and then plugging it back in. The period of time required to leave the equipment unplugged is a highly debatable topic in itself, but we recommend 10 seconds or more.  Also the sequence of which equipment is powercycled is very important. Here is a good example though for you to go by.

1. First powercycle the device that your ISP (Internet Service Provider) installed in your home. This could be a DSL modem, cable modem, router/modem combo, or power suppy to a WIFI / WIMAX antenna. Make sure you wait at least one full minute before moving on to the next device. This will allow time for your internet device to re-establish a connection with your provider and for it to assign information such as an IP address and DNS servers to the next devices that come online.

2. Next you should powercycle your internet distribution hardware. This could be a wireless router, hardwire router, or switch. Also your router might be incorporated in  your modem in some cases.  Now after doing so please wait a full minute before continuing.

3. Check and see if your internet connection is re-established. If so then all is well. If not, then you have two options. If you are savvy enough you can access your network device (wireless or hardwired) on your computer and tell it to repair or refresh itself and that should fix the issue allowing you internet access once again. If  not, then you should reboot your computer or shut it down and wait a good thirty seconds or more and then turn the power back on.

So to save yourself a lot of frustration in the future, always test your internet or network connection first by powercycling your equipment before reverting to the dreaded “ISP Call” for support.

Tech Tip: Surge protectors and voltage regulators help, but they typically will not stop your issues with hardware lockups caused by momentary losses of power. If you want a real fix, then buy a UPS (uninterruptible power supply) which is a battery backup power system. These devices are inexpensive and can save you a huge amount of issues with power related problems including damage caused to equipment by surges and power interruptions.

One comment on “Home and Small Office Network’s Worst Nightmare

  1. GoingLikeSixty on said:

    Your advice about waiting is one that I often don’t take to heart. I tend to “rush” the waiting period of the powercycling and other reconnections. (Which isn’t very often – an usually caused by me!)
    30 -60 seconds is such a LONG time :-) but I’m learning to power up and go get a cuppa coffee.

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