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Do you have a lot of Internet-connected Gadgets at home?

I ran into a problem with my home network that was a pain to troubleshoot. But I finally figured it out and wanted to share this in case you (or someone you know) is having problems connecting certain devices to the Internet.

At the Byrd household, we have lots of gadgets, especially with 3 girls in college. There are lots of devices that are Internet-connected these days including Iphones, IPads, Laptops, desktops, DVD, Tivos, AppleTV, Wi, PlayStation, etc. The problem with our home network is that from time to time someone would say “hey, I can’t connect to the Internet!”. It wasn’t always the same device either. Sometimes it was when one of my daughter’s came home from college and couldn’t get her macbook on the Internet. It would connect to the wireless just fine, but not the Internet.

Excuse the tech jargon but the problem was with the DHCP server. If you understand the way TCP/IP works, most devices these days are configured to use DHCP to get an IP address. This makes it easy to go from one wi-fi network to another (like home to a coffee shop). If it wasn’t for DHCP, you’d need to manually configure your TCP/IP address settings every time you switched to another network.

Ok, so here’s what the problem was. Most wireless routers (which also act as the DHCP server) default to a small range of IP addresses they manage, like 20. 20 addresses sounds like a lot for a home network, but not these days. What was happening with my home network is that we were maxing out the 20 addresses so when another device tried to connect to the network, it didn’t get an IP address as the DHCP server already handed out all that it was configured for. There’s no error message that you get when the DHCP server doesn’t give out an address which is why it’s so hard to troubleshoot.

So I went into my Linksys wireless router and up’ed the number of addresses for the DHCP server and PROBLEM SOLVED!

Written by Keith Byrd - Go to Keith's Website/Profile