New PC, connectivity issues,high frustration level

  User-7F6FF770-BD4F-47E5-9BA55A2F8E7FDFF9 10:34 07 Feb 2003

Hello everyone.

I am at the end of my tether with this problem and I came here on the advice of a friend.

As a background I am a fairly experienced PC user, currently on my 5th PC, my first being a 486. Before that I owned a Vic20, Atari400 and an Amiga.

The last 4 years have mainly been spent playing online games, mostly RPG like Everquest and back in September I decided to replace my Athlon 700 PC with a new one.

I purchased by mail oreder from one of the leading PC manufacturers an AMD XP 2.4 based machine with 512k RAM, 120GB HD and a TI 4200 Geforce card.

For about 4-6 weeks all went well, the games I were playing at the time were Asherons call 2 and Earth and Beyond. (Earth and beyond is a game very like everquest in nature but set in space)

Then the problems started. All of a sudden I could not access the AC2 server at all, ever time the machine attempted to connect to the server it would hang up on the connection screen. Then, after about 1 minute my internet connection would break and I was back on the desktop. However my connection was fine while browing the web and downloading files etc.

Similar issues with Earth and beyond, except that I could log in ok but if I attempted to change zones within the game I would again be booted by my ISP and end up back on my desktop.

I list below the steps I took to solve the problem.

1) ISP. My first thought was to try a different ISP and see if the problem lay there. I tried 2 and it made no difference at all.

2) Phone line. I took the machine to 2 other locations to try different lines. No change there either.

3) Modem. I tried 2 different replacement modems and tried changing the motherboard slot they were in . Still no change.

4) Finally I tried my old machine again. Set it back up on the same line and everything worked fine.

At this point I decided to seek support from the manufacturer and the only new thing they suggested was a full format and reinstall of windows XP. When this made no differnece they decided to recall the PC.

The chap I spoke to initially was a online games player like myself and understood the issues well.

After some delay the PC was collected, after a further 20 days I was contacted by the service csnter to say that they had tested my PC and it connected to the internet fine,in addition, as no fault was found I would be charged carriage to get my PC back. I explained my issues with the games and was told that was a software problem, not covered by warranty. When I explained that the software ran fine on my old machine, he helfully suggested I use that instead !

After some argument I am still waiting from a call from someone higher up but I hold little hope that the response will differ.

I am convinced there is some sort of hardware issue here.

The fact that everything was 100% ok for around 6 weeks and that a full format and reinstall of windows made no difference would seem to support this.

But I have no idea what the fault could be and how to proceed if I get no change in attitude from the support people.

Thanks for reading this far, if you have any ideas I would be very grateful.

Thanks - Lantril

  jazzypop 11:34 07 Feb 2003

I presume that your new PC is running XP, and your old one is not.

There are several differences that come with XP that may be contributing to the problem -

1. IE6 - XP comes with IE6, which has a higher level of security set as default than previous versions of IE

2. Firewalls - XP has a built-in firewall

3. DirectX 8 - comes as standard with XP.

Any or all of these settings may be contributing to the symptoms that you describe. Without your new PC at home, it is not possible to check what your current settings are.

Thanks for the reply.

The key thing here is that I was trouble free for around 6 weeks.

Could I have unknowingly altered a setting that triggered the firewall ?

Also I get no messages when the disconnection occurs.

I just hear the modem click as it disconnects.

Wouldnt a firewall issue cause a message box to appear informing me of the problem ?

Thanks- Lantril

  jazzypop 12:15 07 Feb 2003

It is still speculation at the moment, but...

You could have installed an update to XP in that time.

XP installs the firewall by default when a new connection is installed.

Xp's built-in firewall is not at all 'chatty', unlike 3rd-party firewalls (MacAfee, Norton, Sygate, ZoneAlarm etc).

OK I guess the firewall is probably on as I would have installed a new connection to get internet access in the first place.

Just so I am clear, you are saying that the firwewall could force the PC to drop its connection to the internet and not tell you that it has ?

Also it could prevent the PC from connecting to a server, just leaving it hanging at the connection screen ?

If the answer to these 2 questions is yes I think I may have to bite the bullet, pay the carriage and get the darned thing back and maybe retrofit WIN98 and see if it solves the problems.

I Guess it would be better if there were not a hardware fault but I will feel such a noob if it turns out that it is just firewall issues.

Thanks - Lantril

  jazzypop 12:37 07 Feb 2003

In order to establish a network game, the server at the other end often negotiates a series of ports on which to communicate.

Depending on how the server does this, and how the firewall is configured, then the firewall may recognise this as a malicious 'port scan', and simply drop the connection.

Equally, XP's firewall is preconfigured to leave certain ports open (e.g. Port 80 for HTTP), but to leave those outside the 'standard' range closed.

If your game tries to communicate via non-standard ports (most do), it will simply not get a reply, and the connection will be apparently stalled.

I am guessing that W98's inherent lack of security allowed you to communicate with the game server, regardless of the security implications. XP is a bit more security-conscious, and was trying to protect you.

Can I suggest that you disable the XP firewall, and use something like Sygate, which will give you far more control.

No need at all to go back to W98 - my sons happily play a wide range of online games using XP.

Thanks for all your advice Jazzypop.

I dont know if I feel better or worse about it all now :)

I will be calling to get my PC returned to me this afternoon. will probably take a couple of weeks to get back.

I will be sure to log in and post to let you know the final outcome.

Thanks again- Lantril

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