When good wires go bad, and bad routers go worse

Ever do 13 flights of stairs in an N95 mask in 20 minutes because of a network cable? I did today trying to run down an extremely bad connection that was tested fine a week and a half ago.

TL;DR – Tales from the IT side, bad cable/router combo

Monday of last week I was tasked with verifying an office was in worth internet shape. I tested ethernet port 1, 600 or so mbit up and down which is about the max I can expect with the laptop I was using, tested ethernet port #2 and got 380 or so, which at the time of day I was testing and how many people were using the internet this did not concern me. Anything over 300 we consider probably fine unless we’re dealing with a client/tenant who says they’re moving unedited 8K raw video to clients. This was for a client who zoom on two computers was what was needed and that’s 50-80mbit. They had two ports. All good right?

Yeah, turns out that 380 port decided to drop to about 80mbit capabilities, and Zoom couldn’t reliably stream even. While my laptop showed gig speed connection, 4 other devices I tested with maxed out at 100mbit connection. My laptop, while claiming a gig, was getting 70mbit now. No device could exceed about 80 mbit.

I replaced all possible wiring up and down the line, but yeah, a non-moving CAT5 cable from I’m guessing 2000 degraded enough to essentially fail. But even with that 80 mbit should have been fine for Zoom… I replaced everything, walked up and down floors checking lights on switches and verifying that nope, nothing other than my laptop pulls gig. But I didn’t have any packet loss like they were havng.

Their WiFi router was shot as well. Anything going across the backplane was dropping packets. This was the primary Zoom death cause.

So, in jeans, and an N95 mask I had to grab at work because I walked out without a mask or glasses today due to motorcycle (just forgot, not being a rebel,) 20 minutes of solid stair climbing fun because a never-moving cable gave up the ghost. Walk up to switch room, walk back down to move different device to port. Walk back up to see if it’s connected at gig speeds. Walk back down to swap it again.

Yes, tried two other gig switches, portable gig switch, cables, 2 wall ports, all new wires, their router on 3 different outlets, nope.. wire just died and their backplane was shot.

Dual failures are rare, but dang do they involve stair climbing…

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Paul E King

Paul King started with GoodAndEVO in 2011, which merged with Pocketables, and as of 2018 he's evidently the owner. He lives in Nashville, works at a film production company, is married with two kids. Facebook | Twitter | Donate | More posts by Paul | Subscribe to Paul's posts