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Monday, December 28, 2009

Holiday Edition: The Case of the Vanishing Internet!

Hello everybody!

I hope you all have had (are having!) a wonderful Holiday Season and an Excellent New Year!

This tech-tip discusses a problem that might crop up when a new computer moves into the house. . . .

Here’s the scene:

The Holidays have come-and-gone, and that shiny new laptop, desktop, or wicked game console that you’ve had your eye on has finally shown up under your Christmas Tree. Fancy video, latest and greatest Windows operating system (or maybe even OS/X), the latest Wireless, Gigabit, and Bluetooth – it’s all there. Everything is right with the world except for one teeny-tiny thing. . . .

All of a sudden – for no apparent reason – your connection to the Internet suddenly dies.

You scratch your head, check out a few things, and then reset your router and/or modem (cable or DSL). Once you do that, things are just fine again for a while. But then, without warning, your internet connection vanishes yet again!

This is odd. . . . You never had that problem before, right? Even when the Internet connection dies, you (usually) can still reach any other machine on your network; but the connection to the Internet is just plain-'ole-gone. It might die in a matter of hours, maybe a day or two, but it dies – seemingly at random. And a router (or modem) reset seems to always bring it back.

The issue here is – in all probability – your new computer.

Not that your new computer has anything wrong with it, but it may be causing you network problems because of the new IP addressing protocol – IPv6. This is because many of the newer operating systems come with IPv6 enabled by default. Even good ‘ole Windows XP isn’t immune. The latest round of Service Packs for XP often installs – and enables! – IPv6.

Unfortunately, a lot of the older hardware – routers, modems, etc. – aren’t equipped to handle the new addressing protocol yet, and they choke. It’s not even “older” hardware – new stuff can have the same issues. Even if you’ve installed the latest-and-greatest firmware updates.

Additionally, it’s possible for older, (pre-existing), computers to experience problems with IPv6 causing them to behave strangely, or loose their network connection for no apparent reason.

The solution is equally simple: Go to the network configuration page for each networking adapter your computers use – both Ethernet and Wireless if your computer has both – and disable the IPv6 protocol. Once you’ve checked, (and disabled IPv6 as needed), on all the computers on your network, give your router and/or modem one last reset and your problem should be over. That is, until the next new computer shows up!

Have a Wonderful Holiday Season!

Jim "JR" Harris

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