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So you're ready to post in the forums about connectivity problems? Before you hit that submit button, there's some basic information that you can hunt down beforehand, which will greatly speed up our ability to figure out what's going on.
You may want to familiarize yourself with these steps, and download any recommended programs, PRIOR to having problems, so that when and if you do, you'll be prepared.
Here's a breakdown of what we find useful when you post a problem. Instructions on finding out some of the 'more detailed' aspects follows.
Type of connectivity problem (such as: can't access all sites, or some sites, or DSL is crawling, etc.)
When the problem started happening / when it occurs / any patterns to when it occurs
Traceroute OR Ping Plot (prefer Ping Plot)
Your setup (such as, are you using a firewall, or a router, or plugging direct from the modem into the back of your computer)
DSL Modem brand and model
Now we're not going to need every single one of those for every problem, and we may even ask for more information, but this gives you a basic idea of what helps us help you.
And now for the detailed information:
YOU MUST PERFORM THESE STEPS WHILE CONNECTED TO THE INTERNET THROUGH YOUR DSL LINE. Performing the steps explained below while using a backup connection will not provide the same information.
Obtaining your Redback Number
This sounds difficult, but it really isn't. There's a FAQ in place that explains a Redback »AT&T Midwest/Ameritech FAQ »Redbacks. Love 'em Hate 'em Learn about 'em here so we'll concentrate on finding out which one you're on.
Your Redback number can be obtained by performing a traceroute from 'the outside world' back to your connection. (You do not need to be pingable for this test.) One site that makes this process easy is located here: »www.network-tools.com/
Your IP address should already be entered, so just click the 'trace' radio button, and click the 'submit' button. Once the trace is complete, you should see a readout similar to this one:
router.fifi.org 0% 1 1 5.83 5.83 5.83
dsl081-246-001.sfo1.dsl.speakeasy.net 0% 1 1 82.28 82.28 82.28
border5.g3-4.speakeasy-29.sfo.pnap.net 0% 1 1 84.93 84.93 84.93
core2.ge2-0-bbnet2.sfo.pnap.net 0% 1 1 74.42 74.42 74.42
POS2-3.GW4.SFO4.ALTER.NET 0% 1 1 57.43 57.43 57.43
162.ATM3-0.XR1.SFO4.ALTER.NET 0% 1 1 59.99 59.99 59.99
0.so-0-0-0.XL1.SFO4.ALTER.NET 0% 1 1 45.12 45.12 45.12
0.so-5-0-0.XL1.SCL2.ALTER.NET 0% 1 1 54.29 54.29 54.29
0.so-5-0-0.BR1.SCL2.ALTER.NET 0% 1 1 45.88 45.88 45.88
sl-bb20-sj-6-1-1620xT1.sprintlink.net 0% 1 1 37.83 37.83 37.83
sl-bb21-sj-15-0.sprintlink.net 0% 1 1 189.48 189.48 189.48
sl-bb24-chi-3-0.sprintlink.net 0% 1 1 69.26 69.26 69.26
sl-bb23-chi-14-0.sprintlink.net 0% 1 1 85.72 85.72 85.72
184.108.40.206 0% 1 1 78.45 78.45 78.45
sl-sbc-100-0.sprintlink.net 0% 1 1 75.87 75.87 75.87
dist1-vlan30.sfldmi.ameritech.net 0% 1 1 76.07 76.07 76.07
rback4-fa2-0.sfldmi.ameritech.net 0% 1 1 85.86 85.86 85.86
adsl-66-73-xxx-xxx.dsl.sfldmi.ameritech.net 0% 1 1 102.13 102.13 102.13
Note the second to last entry. This line will tell you your Redback number, as indicated by rback#-(insert rest here). In this example, the Redback number is 4.
For those that know their IP address, or can obtain it quickly, this second site may also be of benefit, especially if you have problems accessing the first one. (This is the site used to perform the trace above.) »www.fifi.org/services/traceroute
This site isn't as graphically intense, so loading it would be easier during periods of slow access. Plug in your IP address, and click the 'submit' button.
Note: We find a Ping Plot much more useful, as it contains the same information a traceroute does, along with additional information. These traceroute steps should only be followed if it is not feasible for you to download a ping plot program, such as when your connection is slow.
This is performed in the same manner as what was used to obtain your Redback Number, except in reverse. You're going to traceroute to the site you're having problems accessing. Traceroute results will show how your connection to a specific site is being routed across the Internet, and where in this connection is having problems.
Programs such as McAfee Visual Trace (NeoTrace to us long-time users) can perform both a traceroute and a Ping Plot (explained later). If you use a program such as these to post your information, please only post the sections pertaining to the traceroute, and the ping plot. Don't post the breakdown about each server.
For this FAQ, we'll use the traceroute program that comes with each copy of Windows, called tracert. You'll need to open a DOS prompt. Click Start, then Run. Windows 95/98/Me users will type 'command', while Windows NT/2000/XP users will type 'cmd', without the quotes on both, and then press OK. If the DOS session takes up the whole screen, where you can not see the taskbar in Windows, press ALT + Enter to bring the DOS session back to a window.
Once at the DOS prompt, type the following:
tracert (insert site here)
where (insert site here) is the site you're having problems accessing, and press enter. For example, to perform a traceroute to dslreports.com, you'd type
and press enter. Your results should be similar to below:
Tracing route to dslreports.com [220.127.116.11]
over a maximum of 30 hops:
1 17 ms 18 ms 18 ms adsl-66-73-xxx-xxx.dsl.sfldmi.ameritech.net [66.73.xxx.xxx]
2 18 ms 18 ms 18 ms dist1-vlan50.sfldmi.ameritech.net [18.104.22.168]
3 17 ms 18 ms 18 ms bb1-g2-0.sfldmi.ameritech.net [22.214.171.124]
4 23 ms 23 ms 23 ms sl-gw34-chi-2-1.sprintlink.net [126.96.36.199]
5 23 ms 23 ms 24 ms sl-bb21-chi-4-3.sprintlink.net [188.8.131.52]
6 24 ms 23 ms 23 ms sl-bb24-chi-9-0.sprintlink.net [184.108.40.206]
7 45 ms 44 ms 45 ms sl-bb26-nyc-14-1.sprintlink.net [220.127.116.11]
8 43 ms 44 ms 44 ms sl-bb20-nyc-15-0.sprintlink.net [18.104.22.168]
9 45 ms 44 ms 45 ms 22.214.171.124
10 46 ms 47 ms 47 ms tbr1-p012402.n54ny.ip.att.net [126.96.36.199]
11 46 ms 44 ms 45 ms gar1-p3100.nwrnj.ip.att.net [188.8.131.52]
12 51 ms 49 ms 50 ms att.ge-0-0-0.gbr1.nwr.nac.net [184.108.40.206]
13 49 ms 49 ms 50 ms 1189.at-0-1-0.gbr1.oct.nac.net [220.127.116.11]
14 53 ms 51 ms 52 ms 0095.gi-1-1.msfc1.oct.nac.net [18.104.22.168]
15 52 ms 54 ms 51 ms www.dslreports.com [22.214.171.124]
Now, to copy and paste these results, the best method is to first paste into something like Notepad, clean up any formatting problems, and 'xxx' out your IP address's last two numbers, as shown in this example, in both the resolved name, which is the information before the actual IP address, and the actual IP address, which is in brackets.
To copy the contents of the DOS window, right-click on the taskbar's entry for the DOS window, select Edit, then Select All. Then press Enter. You can then paste the traceroute information into Notepad.
This is extremely similar to a traceroute. If you perform a ping plot, performing a traceroute as shown above is not needed, as this will already perform that. A ping plot is preferred over a traceroute, as it contains the same traceroute information, along with much more.
You'll need a program which can do this. McAfee Visual Trace can perform this function, but posting its results is very difficult, and it's difficult to read on the forums. For this reason, we'll use a different program called Ping Plotter Freeware, which can be downloaded from »www.pingplotter.com/download.html
Once this is installed and open, you can put the site name in the 'Address to Trace' box. The settings below can be adjusted to your liking, but for our testing purposes, the following will do:
# of times to trace: 30
Trace Delay: 2 seconds
Samples to include: ALL
On the right side, which should be completely gray at this point, you need to right-click and make sure all items have a check mark. Once this is done, click the 'trace' button and wait for it to finish. (You'll know it's done when the Stop button switches to Resume.)
To post your image, you'll need to save the image. Click Edit, then Copy as Image. Open Paint and paste your image. Before saving, you should edit-out your IP address information by using the eraser, or painting over it. Then save the image as a .PNG file (we prefer this) by clicking File, then Save. Switch the Save As field to show PNG.
To post this image, click the 'Got Attachments?' link, and use the Browse button to locate your image, and add it to your post. You can still post a message with your image, too.