Edit/Note: For some reason the "size" bbcode tag has been disabled and because it's disabled, it's for some reason ruining the color of text as well. I apologize for my guide not looking as nicely formatted as it was before PWE played around with things they probably shouldn't have touched.
In SylenThunder's main troubleshooting issues overview thread it doesn't go very deep into how to actually test and determine where a networking problem lies. So I've decided to teach you. Hopefully I can explain in a clear enough manner that you will understand. I will probably add an update because I'm sure I missed some chunk of information considering I wrote this at 3AM.
Before I get started, make you you know what ISP means.
: Internet Service Provider. The company or government service that provides you your internet connection. Examples of large, well known, ISPs are Cox, Time-Warner, AT&T, Verizon, Charter, and Comcast.
Routers and Modems
I'm sure you've heard the term router and modem. I bet more than half of you can't distinguish between the two or think they are synonyms for one another. However, they are in fact two separate devices with two distinct purposes. Although I will say that there are many combo devices now that don't help understanding that there is a difference.
: Routers are devices that know how to handle data. You can think of them as the GPS guiding system for your data
. Data sent anywhere is going to have to be handled by a router at some point so that it is sent to the correct destination. For instance, you want to send a picture you have to another computer on you home network. The only way the data will be sent to the correct destination is when the router gets ahold of it and looks at who you are trying to send it to. If the device you're trying to send it to exists, the router will proceed to forward the data to that device.
: Modems are a way to change the digital data coming from your device into easily transmittable analog signals that can also be reassembled back into digital data once arriving at another modem. Digital signals can't travel very far, which is why they are converted. To put simply, they blindly transmit data to and from long distances
, such as from your house to your ISP and vice-versa. I could go into depth how modems work, but it's boring in comparison to everything else.
LAN and WAN
Have you ever heard the term LAN
? Local area network
; this is a term given to a series of devices
, phones, computers, tablets, routers, switches all connected in a local networking ecosystem
. That is to say, these devices, if setup properly, can communicate with one another because they are all locally connected on a network.
A typical household LAN setup will look something like this
The devices will all be connected into a router that handles the direction of the data. Data that is not being handled locally is sent through the modem and received by your ISP who will handle getting it out to its destination from there.
A term you're probably not familiar with is WAN
. Funny enough, your ability to view this right now is taking place because of the largest WAN
on earth, the Internet
. Wide area network
; is a somewhat loosely defined term that describes large networks all connected together
. Such as many other smaller WANs and LANs linked by many nodes. You can think of the internet as a very large version of your LAN.
So now that you know that the internet is a WAN; let's talk about how everything is connected. Starting off from the other picture, your ISP has an internal LAN/WAN, called a backbone
. Your ISPs backbone is connected to the Internet's backbone which is comprised of many other ISPs, universities, and governments all doing the same. For the sake of simplicity, I will just call the devices we meet along the way nodes
When attempting to reach any website, or online video game, you must go through this series of devices that are all connected to one another. Even one device having issues could cause you problems. Take this simplistic example above. Imagine if "Node" is failing for an unspecified reason. We don't know why, all we know is that it's failing. Aside from causing your ISP connection issues, it would also cause issues for the other ISP who is connected through the same path.
Many times this is actually a realistic example of what happens when a node is important for connecting two countries together. When it fails the countries could lose some access to one another. There are other pathways, but it's unlikely the ISPs devices will figure out another route. The reason is because they typically look for the shortest path, even if the path is failing.