As I documented last week, I've been having intermittent problems with my Internet connection. Just when I thought I'd solved it, I woke up this morning to yet another massive slowdown.
Using the method I described previously—running SpeedTest on at least two devices—I verified that this wasn't a local hardware problem. Something was amiss with either my router, my modem, or my ISP (Comcast).
This kind of thing can be really frustrating, to say nothing of difficult to diagnose. If I call Comcast, they'll run their usual battery of tests, then tell me they can't find anything wrong.
One tool that might help: Net Uptime Monitor. True to its name, this utility helps you track when your connection is up—and, more importantly, when it's down.
Specifically, it alerts you to Internet connection failures and records the time and duration of those failures. That log may be of help when presented to your ISP.
It works like this: at predetermined intervals, Net Uptime Monitor (NUM) pings three public servers: Google, Level 3, and OpenDNS. If it's unable to connect to any of them, you'll hear an alert sound, and the software will record the details in a text-file log.
Now, granted, NUM won't necessarily pinpoint the source of your connection problem, and it certainly won't solve it. In my situation, for example, I'm still looking at either a router, modem, or ISP issue. But the log can definitely prove helpful in determining if, say, interruptions occur at the same time every day, or perhaps happen with only one server and not the others. It's all part of the troubleshooting process.
Net Uptime Monitor costs $9.95. You can use the trial version free of charge as many times as you like, but it will shut down after 30-60 minutes.
If you know of any other good tools for diagnosing Internet connection problems, by all means share them in the comments!
Contributing Editor Rick Broida writes about business and consumer technology. Ask for help with your PC hassles at firstname.lastname@example.org, or try the treasure trove of helpful folks in the PCWorld Forums. Sign up to have the Hassle-Free PC newsletter e-mailed to you each week.