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No… really.

It can be very stressful when the one thing you rely on to carry out your work fails you. One minute life is good and time is passing by with incredible productivity, the next your world ends and becomes engulfed in fire (not literally). You call your supplier, explain your situation, and are met with the most common sentence from the I.T. Crowd: “Have you tried turning it off and on again?”

Having worked on support desks I know all too well how it feels for me to ask this of someone; I can almost hear their eyes rolling as they sigh. I don’t ask you to do it for 10-15 minutes for no reason but I understand why people get annoyed: It’s another 15 minutes they will be without service.

How about I tell you what can happen in those 10-15 minutes that, if not immediately solving the issue, will at least get a resolution sooner than if this most basic of steps was not carried out?

How to spend those 15 minutes:

Turning off the router and hopefully not getting too irritated, but I completely understand. Have a cup of tea or crack on with some work that doesn’t require the internet. Turn everything back on after those 15 minutes and call me if it’s still not working: I will have an update, I can assure you.

What am I doing?

First: I’m going to run a copper line test on the one which runs your service. This will take about 60 seconds to run. This is going to tell me if your line is down, in which case the fault can be raised to the line provider to get it fixed. With a standard care level this can take up to the end of the next working day, but once the line is fixed everything else should resume.

Second: I’m going to run a KBD* test on your service. This is going to take up to 5 minutes to complete. The results give me a lot of information about your service and potentially indicate what the fault might be. From there I may raise it to get a broadband engineer out, or maybe just get the service reset from the provider’s end.

Add a couple of minutes to each step for me to review the results and we’re approaching ten minutes. What if I don’t find anything? Well, hopefully we’re at the time when you’ll probably be plugging it all back in and calling me back.

*KBD (Knowledge Based Diagnostics) is an end-to-end test of your circuit from the supplier’s equipment to your premises. It measures everything from the overall expected line rates/speeds, the noise margins (as a noisy line can cause slower speeds/disconnections) and line attenuation (degradation of the service due to the length of the line from the exchange). Sadly it doesn’t come up with “there’s definitely a fault” but that’s why I have to know what all of this equates to in order to take an educated guess.

What are your devices doing?

Your device will spend five minutes still looking for the router, after which it will stop and forget everything it ever knew. This is due to a default timeout across most network devices of 300 seconds. After these five minutes, anything that was stored regarding the connection is generally forgotten and is ready for a fresh start. This also applies to your router connecting back to internet; whatever it was connecting to will forget about it in five minutes.

What happens when you turn it back on?

The world is new and all past wrongs have been forgotten! As the devices are no longer trying to act on whatever erroneous information that they were before, you should now be looking at a working service and can get back to it.

But it hasn’t worked, as you knew it would:

I am sorry to have wasted your time. But, hey, the basics are done now. I’m going to get this reported to the supplier and get a fault moving. Ideally, I will be able to get an engineer booked out before the close of business the following day (that is the standard SLA for engineering visits for most suppliers) or some resets may be carried out on the far back-end systems overnight and you will come back to a resumed service.

Either way, the most basic check has been done and has only taken 10-15 minutes out of your day. I apologise if the service is not back up, but at least a fix is well on its way.

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