Losing connection in online games

I've been trying to get more online games lately (specifically: COD4, LoL), but have been having trouble with a connection that gets intermittently interrupted. When I get disconnected from a game, I can just to internet sites immediately if I ALT-TAB out of the game. In the case of COD4, I can connect to other servers immediately as well, but not the one that I just lost connection to. (in LoL I've managed to reconnect only once)

Pertinent info (so far - I'll update as requested):

- I have cable internet which goes through a router to my PC - everything is wires (e.g. no wireless).
- Router: D-link DIR-815
- Cable modem: Motorola SB6120

I've tried the following:

- checked settings on router (but admittedly I'm not sure what I'd look for)
- swapped all cables one at a time, with tests in between to try to isolate a faulty cable

Any suggestions on how to proceed? What other info would you guys need to help me diagnose this? Thanks!

If your cable/dsl modem is resetting due to a poor signal it can interrupt your connection for about 30 seconds.

bandit0013 wrote:

If your cable/dsl modem is resetting due to a poor signal it can interrupt your connection for about 30 seconds.

Is there any way that I can confirm if I'm having that problem?

Well, you say that you can web browse immediately, but you lose connection to the specific server you were talking to. That sounds like either a bug, or some kind of protective mechanism being triggered. If it were the whole DSL line going down from an error, then you wouldn't be able to reach anything.

What kind of router do you have? Does it also serve as your DSL modem, or is that a separate box?

Malor wrote:

Well, you say that you can web browse immediately, but you lose connection to the specific server you were talking to. That sounds like either a bug, or some kind of protective mechanism being triggered. If it were the whole DSL line going down from an error, then you wouldn't be able to reach anything.

What kind of router do you have? Does it also serve as your DSL modem, or is that a separate box?

Yeah... that's sort of been my gut thought, although I still hoped that it was just wiring.

- Router: D-link DIR-815
- Cable modem: Motorola SB6120

AndrewA wrote:
Malor wrote:

Well, you say that you can web browse immediately, but you lose connection to the specific server you were talking to. That sounds like either a bug, or some kind of protective mechanism being triggered. If it were the whole DSL line going down from an error, then you wouldn't be able to reach anything.

What kind of router do you have? Does it also serve as your DSL modem, or is that a separate box?

Yeah... that's sort of been my gut thought, although I still hoped that it was just wiring.

- Router: D-link DIR-815
- Cable modem: Motorola SB6120

Are you close enough to the modem when this happens to see if the sync light is red or flashing..or whatever the SB6120 does when it's not synced? I had a DSL modem once that everytime I played WoW it would desync for 20-30 seconds and reconnect.

Well, DD-WRT doesn't seem to be an option on that router, so the first thing I'd do is check that the firmware is updated to whatever's most recent, and then look through the settings for anything having to do with DDOS protection or anything of that sort. I'm thinking that you may be triggering some kind of protective mechanism that temporarily blocks a machine it thinks is attacking (or, perhaps, being attacked by) you.

It could also just be a bug, which is why I'm suggesting a firmware update.

Watching the lights on the 6120 is also a good idea. That's probably not your problem, but there's no way to rule that out yet.

The 'not able to reconnect' thing is troubling and makes me think that it isn't necessarily your network.
Do you get any error messages when you get kicked or try to reconnect?

I haven't had to deal with this for a long time and I'm not 100% that all the programs you're running use this, but at least COD4 supposedly utilizes the PunkBuster service.
Here's a link to a manual update for that client: http://www.evenbalance.com/index.php...

Answering from work.... which is maybe dumb...

Gumbie wrote:

Are you close enough to the modem when this happens to see if the sync light is red or flashing..or whatever the SB6120 does when it's not synced? I had a DSL modem once that everytime I played WoW it would desync for 20-30 seconds and reconnect.

I'll move the modem so that it's in my line of site and see tonight.

Malor wrote:

Well, DD-WRT doesn't seem to be an option on that router, so the first thing I'd do is check that the firmware is updated to whatever's most recent, and then look through the settings for anything having to do with DDOS protection or anything of that sort. I'm thinking that you may be triggering some kind of protective mechanism that temporarily blocks a machine it thinks is attacking (or, perhaps, being attacked by) you.

It could also just be a bug, which is why I'm suggesting a firmware update.

I *think* that I saw that there were no updates for the router, but I can double-check. I hadn't looked for DDOS or anything, so I'll peek at that too, and get back to you. Is it an option that I'd disable?

Rezzy wrote:

The 'not able to reconnect' thing is troubling and makes me think that it isn't necessarily your network.
Do you get any error messages when you get kicked or try to reconnect?

COD4 gives me "Connection Interrupted", and eventually drops back to the "Join Server" menu. At that point the server that I was just on shows up as an IP address and a port.... it's no longer named and refreshing the server list doesn't resolve the name either. (e.g. it really can't hit that server)

LOL punts me back to the lobby, and then sends me threatening emails about dropping out of games.

Rezzy wrote:

I haven't had to deal with this for a long time and I'm not 100% that all the programs you're running use this, but at least COD4 supposedly utilizes the PunkBuster service.
Here's a link to a manual update for that client: http://www.evenbalance.com/index.php...

I definitely have the latest Punkbuster. I had to install it for COD4 to work online at all.

Okay - firmware upgraded to the latest version (1.00 -> 1.01).

I can't find any setting like DDOS..... can you give me some other keywords to try searching for?

I'm not going to have time to do any gaming tonight, so can't test if the firmware alone fixed things.

Well, I don't know. It's a pretty vague supposition on my part, because it sounds like it could be a deliberate action of some kind. I've never worked with one of those, so I don't even know what the interface looks like, much less what anything would be called.

Were it mine, I'd be looking carefully through the firmware settings, checking each and every page, looking for any excuses the firmware might use to drop packets OTHER than the normal firewall rules.

In other words, you want the normal firewall ruleset to apply, but probably want to disable any additional analysis or QoS features, any reason other than firewalling that the router might reject packets. Anything that hints of traffic analysis or prioritization should go away, at least for now. If that fixes the problem, you can turn features back on, one at a time, and see what was actually breaking your game.

I'd try it with just the firmware for now, though. Make sure it's still broken before doing anything more to fix it.

AndrewA wrote:
bandit0013 wrote:

If your cable/dsl modem is resetting due to a poor signal it can interrupt your connection for about 30 seconds.

Is there any way that I can confirm if I'm having that problem?

Should be in the modem logs if you can get to them.

I had a poor connector at the road once, it was causing an intermittent issue much like you describe, I'd time out, drop from things, youtube videos would pause for 15 seconds or so. Sometimes it would go up and down like that off and on for an hour, then it would be fine for days. Eventually I got a level 3 tech while the issue was happening and he determined that the signal strength was bottoming out, bad connector.

An update:

It's been a busy week, but I managed two one hour sessions of CoD without any problems. Now, I've been able to stay connected to CoD for an hour or two in the past, so it could just be fluke. I'm going to try to get in a lengthier session tonight.

My first thought for any kind of new, intermittent issue like this is line noise. Can you get connection statistics from your cable modem? Is there any correlation between the severity of the problem and bad weather? Do you have a lot of squirrels in the area?

If there's a problem in the cable signal or modem, it could be causing a high number of T3 timeouts. In that case, you wouldn't see the modem reset, but you'd still be losing connectivity to the server for a short period of time.

A few thoughts:

1) High to moderate packet loss would account for T3 timeouts. Essentially you modem would be getting just enough packets through that it still sees itself as connected, enough through that pulling up websites isn't much of an issue (not as much data to request a page as it is to play a game), but sporadic enough that the game server disconnects you because it doesn't get enough packets coming in and believes you've disconnected.

2) High latency would cause nearly the same symptoms, but is an issue where the data your modem sends just doesn't reach the server in an acceptable amount of time. I had an issue with this on WoW due to my PC not efficiently using it's wireless PCI card. I ended up with a latency of around 300-500ms, and using a WRT54GL with DD-WRT as a client bridge brought me down around 30-80ms.

3) Upstream Signal-to-Noise could also be an issue, and could even be caused by one of your neighbors. Random noise in your upstream spectrum could be corrupting the signals you are trying to send out. Very, VERY few techs would be able to troubleshoot it though. I do it on occasion but it's really difficult and time consuming. If it is caused by something in your house though, it's easy to track down and fix.

Granted, these are all cable-related ideas, and without more information I wouldn't be able to say if any are even your issue. Just some things to think about.

complexmath wrote:

Do you have a lot of squirrels in the area?

While squirrel chew is a pretty big issue, it's not going to be a major factor in noise (it can be if it's bad enough, like in feeder cable, just not typically). Most noise I fix or filter out is caused by old inferior cable (single/dual shielded RG-6 or any type of RG-59), inferior connectors (crimp or screw-on connectors are horrible for noise), damaged cable inside the home (carpet tacks or pet chew), or most common of all is loose connectors (doesn't have to lead to your modem for them to be an issue).

Squirrel chew is typically a bigger issue in that it allows water into the cable, causing higher attenuation through the dielectric. It's a much bigger downstream issue than upstream.

Most modems you can check it's levels internally by going to http://192.168.100.1. If you can find your modem's connection diagnostic menu, here's a quick guide on what it's levels should be:

Downstream Receive (DSRX) = -8 dBmV to +8 dBmV is a good reference.
Upstream Transmit (USTX) = 35 dBmV to 54 dBmV
Upstream Signal-to-Noise Ratio (US SNR) = 32 dB or above is best
Dowstream Signal-to-Noise Ratio (DS SNR) = 36 dB or above

You probably won't get much more info than that. If it's DOCSIS 3.0 compliant, it should give you these levels for (typically) four downstream frequencies and three upstream frequencies. Otherwise it'll just be one of each. If your US SNR is poor, but a tech comes out and says there's no noise coming from your home, then it's an issue with your area. A line tech would have to start at the node, and track noise back through each amp, filtering out anyone causing the issue. I once spent 5 hours with a line tech tracking down one noise signature, only to find the problem knocking 50+ modems offline was coming from one connector on a line that wasn't even supposed to be hooked up. Disconnected it, and the average US SNR for that area jumped from 24 dB to 33 dB. Anyways, if you get into your modem, post the levels you find.