Sunday, January 29, 2012

Home Networking - REBOOT

It has been a week of troubleshooting my home network.  As more devices connect to the network the techology demands have turned the guys into internet grease monkeys (vs my Dad's generation of auto mechanics).  Adding DirectTV and Ellen's Nomad to the local area network (LAN) created the issue with my home network.  Luckily I have E.W. who is Mr. Tech Guru to talk to.  I've always said "you can be only as technical as your most technical friend" - otherwise you are subject to paying someone more technical than you - like the new service Cincinnati Bell offers ($14.99/mth for home technical support) or the Best Buy Geek Squad ($69.99 setup and six month support with purchase of a connectable device). 

The source of the problem was the HD/DVR 24 DirecTV receiver which said it was connected to the internet but refused to download content. I had the DirecTV technical rep stumped when his last resort statement was to instruct me to enable the DMZ of the Westell 6100 ADSL modem to get me off the phone. Hmmmmm that sounded dangerous since the manual said that it leaves you open to hackers.

My house from point to point can be as long as 112 ft, the bedrooms have never had wireless connections since my Linksys and Belkin routers only reached out 73ft.  In fact in the old router days, I had limited strength in the lower level areas with just a single router.  The novice in me thought, just put in another wireless router - which has worked but with challenges. Slowly I have tried to eliminate wireless access for some devices by stringing Cat 5 wire and introducing ethernet access ports in the newly remodeled rooms. 
E.W. was invaluable in describing my stupidity of chaining two wireless routers together (vs a router and a switch), adding that I should just break down and buy a new dual band Wireless N router.  Refusing to give into buying my way out of the problem, I instead disabled the DHCP on a old D-Link router to emulate a switch and kept the Linksys wireless 2.4Ghz G in place.  But the problem did not go away - the HD/DVR box could not download content.  UGH!!!!
So if in doubt - the best technical advice for any novice is to REBOOT!.  Turn off everything and one by one turn them all back on.  It's exactly what every technical telephone support rep tells you to first do.
So after hours of fiddling with routers, switches, DCHP, channels, IP Address, MAC address, DMZ stuff, reading router manuals and internet trouble reports - the final resolution was simple.


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