Troubleshooting Home Networks

As a Mac consultant, I am often called to a client’s house to help troubleshoot a bad network connection. More often than not, there is “garbage” in the network somewhere and simply needs to be “flushed out.” The easiest and most effective way to do this is to unplug the power cord to your Cable/DSL modem, unplug the power cord to your wired or wireless router if you have one (e.g. Apple’s Airport or Time Capsule, Linksys, or Netgear brands, etc.), and then shutting down all of the computers and devices that you have connected to your home network (e.g. Macs, PCs, iPhones, iPads, iPod Touches, etc.).

Once everything has been powered off, plug the Cable/DSL modem in first and wait about 10-15 seconds. After you’ve waited 10-15 seconds, plug in the wired/wireless router (if applicable) and wait about 10-15 seconds. After you’ve waited 10-15 seconds, turn on your Mac or other networked devices. The order in which you power everything on is critical as is waiting a few seconds before powering on the next device. More often than not, simply cycling the power to all components in your home network (i.e. Cable/DSL modem, wired/wireless router, and computers) will help get you back online quickly. In other words, don’t expect to only power off/on half of your network and expect it to work; power all of your network components off/on (see diagram below).

If cycling the power to all of the networking components doesn’t fix your slow Internet surfing, you may have a bigger problem on your hands. Please keep in mind that your Cable/DSL modem and wired/wireless routers (if you have a router at all), stay powered on 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year and they do wear out after a few years. If you notice an abrupt, large degradation in speed while surfing and that slowness surfing remains there for more than a few days, your Cable/DSL modem may be on its way out. The cure to slow surfing may be a quick and easy Cable/DSL modem replacement. Contact your Internet Service Provider (ISP) (e.g. Time Warner Cable, BellSouth, etc.) for information on how to do that.

Recommended Way to Power On/Off Your Home Network