My business' computer network equipment - Time to replace any of these items??

My office was built in 2001…I was privileged to know a guy who helped me wire our phone, cable and Cat5 wire throughout the building, saving thousands of dollars in costs and helped me look at construction with more scrutiny than a typical laymen.

Anyways, he did the block work in the electrical room while I did the wall outlets after we ran the wire together. Forty outlet boxes later, I knew how to make good contact with the Cat5 wiring and we tested each line with great results.

I currently have Charter TV/Internet services and they provided the modem and have since upgraded the original with a SMC8014 model. I recently called Charter to test the modem within the last week, and the tech said that everything is running fine on their end up to, and including the modem itself.

The problem I have is that I get that toolbar message saying that I am losing and regaining internet connectivity (“Local Area Connection”) at the desired 100Mbps. Some days it happens 20-30 times during the day I am here, other days it doesn’t happen at all. A part of me thinks that heat maybe affecting my router or my hub/switch (I do run a small fan on all 3 pieces of equipment), or that maybe one or both items are getting old and starting to fail. I lack expertise when it comes to troubleshooting electronics let alone know the expected life of each item, so that is why I am asking for some recommendations on how to proceed with solving this issue.

In network, I currently have 11 desktop computers from Dell, purchased in 2006 or 2007, 2 network printers (Savin 4035 and Savin 8045), and no servers.

My Router: Linksys BEFSR41 V.2 Instant Broadband Ether Fast Cable/DSL Router I believe I bought this for the building back in 2001, but I may be wrong.

My Hub/Switch: Netgear ProSafe 16 Port 10/100 Switch Model FS116
I believe this was extra equipment my partner already had left over from a previous job and it was the right size for my needs…so this might be older than 2001.

So, how should I proceed? Is there a simple troubleshoot (or diagnostic) that I could do to either item, or is it easier to just go and buy new equipment? I probably have enough patience for 1 to 2 hours of troubleshooting/updating, before I decide to spend $100 per item (you can scale that if you want).

And if I do end up replacing one or both items, what are the best replacement items that you would recommend to a fellow Doper?
Thank You in Advance!!!

Yeti

Are all the computers going down or just yours? If it’s just yours, it’s probably not something with the equipment but something in your computer. Bad card, driver, bad ethernet cable etc.

Assuming they’re all going down when you have a problem: wait for it to happen. When the computers are down, can they see each other? Can you print to a network printer? If you can, it’s the modem, if not it’s the router or switch.

Another thing to do, when it goes down, power cycle the router, if it comes back up, replace it. If not, power cycle the switch…etc until you find the culprit.

For the record, my money is on that old Linksys Router. They have a lifespan of about 5 years or so. You could try putting new firmware on it but I’m not sure if that would help.

But also, just to ask again, is it all the computers or just yours? It’s odd that you mention you have 11 computers but only mention that you’re getting this pop up on yours. If your computer is the only one having issues, the troubleshooting is going to go in a very different direction.

I forgot to add that it happens that I have unplug everything, wait a couple of minutes and plug the modem in first, wait for reboot, then plug in the router, wait for the reboot, then plug in the switch. It used to fix the problem, but now it seems it doesn’t always work now, and I have to repeat the process. My wife’s computer and mine (plus 1 supervisor) are the only one’s connected to the internet, but the issue seems to happen with all of our computers simultaneously…so I feel we can rule out individual computers.

I seem to be the only one who pays enough attention to the messages…the wife and supervisor are not tech savvy…and I am not too far behind them.

Power cycle? Turn it off…wait and then replug in?

The next couple of times, you need to power cycle (unplug, wait a minute or so, plug back in and let fully boot) one thing at a time. That’s really the only way you can narrow it down.

Like I said, my money is on that old router, it’s long since past it’s prime. When your internet goes down, unplug the router, wait 30 seconds or so and plug it back it. When all the lights start flashing see if you’re back up and running. If you are, it’s time to replace it.

Five years? You got a batch of good ones. The last time I had any of those, they seemed to last two or three years, then they’d just go nutty. (and this was with power-cycling it regularly)

Unless a mouse or a nail got at the Cat5, in-wall wiring rarely goes bad,and unless you’re plugging and unplugging things daily, the jacks are also usually eternal.

Maybe it was closer to 2 years. I started replacing all my Linksys routers with Netgears a while back. I wasn’t going to put a third round of Linksys routers in. The fact that the OP is going on 10 years (and driving 11 computers with it) is why I’m assuming it’s the problem.

As for the ethernet cable, don’t forget it’s not just the inwall part you have to look at, it’s the stuff on the floor behind the desk that you kick all day long too. But since we’ve ruled out a single computer, this probably isn’t the case. I only brought it up because ethernet cables with nicked wires act suspiciously like bad routers/switches/modems when they start acting up. They’ll kinda work, then kinda not work, then work for a little while, then you’ll start moving a file or try to print something and they won’t work, then as soon as you start pulling your hair out they’ll work again… At some point it’s worth swapping the cable with a known-good cable just to rule it out. But it’s moot now anyways.

Had a busy weekend, but after reading your posts, it sounds like I have been blessed with a router that worked for quite awhile and I assumed these things should last longer.

My cables are fine, because they are placed off-center from the foot area, behind the desk panels with one inch clearance from wall to panel…I was actually thinking that day when we did furniture orders and outlet placements.

Ok, I should go with a Netgear…but which one would you recommend for my type of setup?

Your switch is doing the heavy lifting. The router is going to bring out IP addresses and bring the internet from the modem to the switch (you have an unmanaged switch that can’t do this on it’s own).

Just go to Best Buy and pick one out. If you grab a Netgear switch off the rack, I doubt you’ll be able to go wrong if you try.

BTW, there is a bit of a learning curve with Netgear equipment. If you have 11 computers (and 11 users) to deal with, I’d very strongly suggest you do this after hours and plan on your computers being down for 15 minutes if your lucky but probably closer to a half hour to an hour if you’ve never worked with Netgear equipment before.

A 16-port 1GB switch should be pretty cheap too. howevr, if your PC’s are that old, are they even 1GB capable?

I assume since you did the work with a knowlegable person, the wiring is good - 12, 36, 45, 78 are the pairs in the wires. I knew a guy who wired his dad’s business, but only the PC’s by the switch worked. Once you got past about 30 feet, if you did not use twisted pairs for each part, the transmission fails. He did 12, 34, 56, 78 - so 3 and 6 were not twisted around each other. It becomes more important with faster transmissions and heavier data, as the retransmits start to bog down the network if things are marginal.

I agree - I think since 1999 I’ve gone through 5 or 6 routers, and 3 switches.

Sounds like others may have diagnosed your problem.

But that you even suspect a heat problem means that it probably needs improving. Excess heat will lead to early failure of equipment. So look into doing something about this. Can you stick them in a closet, and run more AC into that closet?

Is this overkill?
ProSecure UTM5
PROSAFE PLUS SWITCH, 16-PORT FAST ETHERNET - FS116E

All wiring has been done 12,36,45,78…personally by me.

That is a concern of mine. All my communication equipment (phone, cable and internet) is in a 5x4 foot closet room accessible from only my office, so I am the only one who has access to it. Unfortunately, there is no vent to that room , but I do have a vent in my office which is no more than 6 feet from that closet; It should be a slight TI issue to branch off and add a vent to that closet.