Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Connection Issues Fixed

I've been having some issues with my internet for quite a while. For browsing, email and other routine things everything seemed to work fine. There was the odd time where I noticed my internet connection dropped for a few minutes but I figured that was just minor ISP trouble.  It never lasted for very long and I didn't worry about it since it wasn't really affecting me.

But since I started playing Unreal Tournament 4 pre-alpha I noticed a couple problems.

1. I run my own UT4 LAN server on a 2nd machine at home. In the in-game server browser my server would show up listed in red for other machines on the LAN but worked fine for remote users connecting from the internet  (not on the same LAN). The only way to connect to the server from the LAN was connecting by IP.

I figured that was just a problem with the game. After all it is pre-alpha and quite buggy.

2. When uploading large map files to rushbase, the upload would timeout after a while and just stop. It was difficult uploading maps much over 100M, often having to restart the upload multiple times before it finally uploaded successfully. The larger the file the more difficult it was to upload, once a map got around 200M it was impossible.

That definitely should not be happening and I was certain it wasn't my computer. Not hardware, software, nor drivers. I'd checked and rechecked everything (configuration issues, driver versions, etc.) many times looking for something, anything wrong with my computer that could potentially be causing connection issues.

I also noticed when a file upload failed my internet connection would often go down for several minutes. Later I realized during that time I couldn't even login to the modem's built-in router which made me start to suspect it might be a problem with the modem... But I'd already replaced the modem twice.

After doing a lot of searches on Google I finally found some information about others fixing similar connection problems by replacing the built-in router in their ISP provided modem with their own router and a plain modem (one without a built-in router).

Getting my own router to replace the built-in router in my ISP's Hitron modem might help with the file upload problem.

I did some research on routers hoping to find a decent router in the $50-125 range and see if that helps. I read a whole bunch of "best" router reviews and articles, most of them on reputable technical sites. I noticed one particular router kept getting mentioned as a really good cheap router.

TP-Link TL-WR841N

Practically all of the reviews mentioned this router and the ones that did all had really good things to say about it. It's also the best selling router on Amazon and gets great reviews from buyers there too.

It's really cheap too, around $30.00 CDN regular price, $25.00 when on sale. I figured at that price I might as well just grab one and see if it fixes the upload problem... If nothing else, it'll make a good cheap backup.

I got one the next day, got a plain modem (with no built-in router) from the ISP to replace the Hitron modem and hooked everything up.

And it worked!

It solved my upload problem, now I can upload large files without trouble. Uploads work on the first try, every time now! :)

Even better and completely unexpected... When playing UT4 my LAN server is now listed white in the server browser list and I can join it just like any other server in the list without having to use "Join by IP".

All in all it's the best 33 bucks (the local price was a little high) I've spent in a while. I'm very pleased with this router and highly recommend it to anyone looking for a good but cheap router.

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