Bad Networking Hardware
I have a network that is more complex than your average person. Then again,my day job involves technical support. Or at least it used to. Occasionally, I am called upon to actually do technical support, but these days it’s mostly writing. Or editing writing.
Even so, I have two Internet connections at home: DSL and Cable. Each has a Linksys router at the front-end of it with your typical RFC 1918 address space. I have a Nokia IP50s, which runs Nokia’s now end-of-sale SSL VPN product, which I enabled IP routing on to allow traffic to flow between these two private networks. I also have a third network that has public IP addresses.
One piece of hardware in common with all of these networks was this Trendnet switch. It’s a VLAN switch, though I mostly just fixed particular ports mapped directly to particular VLANs and ignored the VLAN functionality. However, it started noticing my DSL network was acting a little funny. I was having issues reaching my DSL router.
Long story short: this Trendnet switch was causing the problems. Randomly dropping packets. Good thing I just bought a bunch of new switches and had a few to spare. Swapped out the problematic Trendnet with three separate consumer-grade unmanaged switches. Packet loss problems magically disappeared.
Granted, I know what I’m doing and was able to isolate the problem fairly easily. Also, the average person wouldn’t have as complex of a network as I do. But how would a common person troubleshoot a problem with a piece of networking hardware? Power cycle and reboot? Then what if that doesn’t work?
I know that Linksys, D-Link, and others have really tried to make all this networking stuff easy. Let’s face it, it’s not entirely plug and play. And the equipment is not entirely bulletproof. I guess that’s why GeekSquad and your local repair guy exist: to help you when your networking goes sideways!