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I have a pretty standard modem and router connection. The problem is, every two hours or so, the internet arbitrarily stops working; the problem is always fixed by turning off the modem and router, and turning them back on.

Is this normal - is it my ISP's problem or is my router faulty? Why can't my devices restart themselves?

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It looks like you are having some problem when your ISP change your IP number. Maybe your router have a IP property misconfigured. Are you using DHCP(automatic adress) on your router? –  Diogo Aug 22 '11 at 14:11
    
It is fairly common. Consumer-grade routers have built-in obsolescence, it is a very profitable market. –  Alex Waters Aug 22 '11 at 14:11

3 Answers 3

up vote 4 down vote accepted

I'd try connecting a PC directly to the modem bypassing the router. If that connection is stable then there's a problem with either the router configuration or the hardware. If it's an old router try blowing any dust and crud out of it. If you're connecting wirelessly you might want to try a different channel at least two channels away from any other wireless networks if possible.

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Always do a direct connect. This is the surefire way to separate the ISP network from yours when testing and your ISP will have you do this first thing when you call them anyway. When you are directly connected, run a continuous ping to your ISP's primary DNS for a few hours then check back for packet loss. If you see no issue, then it is likely a problem with your router. –  MaQleod Aug 22 '11 at 15:34

The router is probably getting stuck in a loop, or is becoming corrupted when a certain timed process is run. Manual restarting it can solve this.

You can find good routers for cheap on ebay, but you want to do your research to find out which model/brand suits your needs.

You can also contact your ISP and tell them that the router is crap.

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Even consumer grade routers don't need to be restarted every few hours. Consumer grade is typically under $300, though you can get decent low-end used business grade routers for around $350-$500 (cisco, samsung, adtran, sonicwall, etc). –  MaQleod Aug 22 '11 at 15:42
    
You can also pickup a WRT54G for ~$20 and load DD-WRT to have a very functional and customized router. That is if you have a few hours to do some reading. –  Alex Waters Aug 23 '11 at 6:30

I had a similar situation with adsl where my modem was connecting at too fast a speed for my line. Due to poor SnR on the line the modem would drop lower and lower and every 2-3 hours it'd go dead. It was eventually (after about 4 weeks of back and forth with isp) fixed by putting me on a lower, but static speed.

This was due to being a fair way from exchange, so you may want to check that first.

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This is fairly common to have happen when you are getting your DSL from a CLEC and not the ILEC. What often happens is that the connection is tested fine early on and then works for a while. After a period of time the ILEC will extend the loop to a new building, to bypass something or for whatever reason, but the loop length to your circuit goes up and you are now farther than your circuit speed will allow (DSL is VERY sensitive to distance limits). –  MaQleod Aug 22 '11 at 15:37

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