I am struggling a bit with internal IT problems. The new high speed Internet service is splendid--but the Belkin wireless router I bought a couple of years ago started going out, with the time between failures getting shorter and shorter--and now it is completely dead. I pulled out a wired only Linksys router, since most PCs in the house now have Ethernet running through various walls and crawl spaces--and discovered that it lived for a few minutes before it died, also.
I reset both of them with the magic button on the back to return them to default configuration--and both died. It would appear that the WAN-LAN interface is what failed, because the Belkin was still working fine on the LAN side--it just couldn't talk to the WAN side anymore.
Pretty obviously, I have a network connection. The end of the cable from the radio plugs into the back of one notebook. (My primary notebook, unfortunately, seems to have lost its wired Ethernet interface--at least, it does not work, and I have no wireless router in the house until tomorrow.)
I am a bit mystified why routers don't seem to last more than a couple of years. Is it the lightning strikes generating surges through the WAN cable, frying something? What should I be doing to protect it? I presume that there are isolators for RJ45 connectors. It isn't like there any moving parts in these things!
UPDATE: It turns out the Ethernet port isn't bad on the primary laptop; I have been using a bunch of Ethernet cables that were scrapped at HP when I first started there because they were only 10BaseT cables. Theoretically this should work, although at a relatively slow rate--not enough to matter when my Internet connection is less than 10 Mbps anyway--but it may be that this cable was marginal in some other way as well. I need to splurge and buy some proper 100BaseT Ethernet cables.
I also notice that one of the bridges that I use to cobble together the "too many Ethernet devices for a home office" is only a 10BaseT bridge--also something scrapped by HP when I started work there. Since the printers and scanners are the primary devices on that bridge, it does not make a huge difference in their performance, but perhaps I should look at replacing that bridge as well with a 100BaseT Ethernet hub or bridge.
UPDATE 2: Instructions for configuring a router to work as a bridge are here. I have removed the 10BaseT hub (which belongs in a museum of ancient HP technology), and replaced it with the Linksys router, which has eight LAN ports on it. It turns out that some of the cables that I thought were antiques are labeled as 100BaseT--only a couple are 10BaseT cables that need replacing.