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back to article Virgin Media wipes out websites with routing blackhole

Virgin Media customers have been struggling to access websites via the telco's network for the past four days, after routing errors crippled the service. The ISP's punters have griped about the problem on VM's forums and various El Reg readers have been in touch to complain that they can't currently access their beloved tech …

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Linux

Aha

That's where El Reg went.

All else seemed ok though.

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In my experience, Virgin Media have almost continuous issues on their backbone network. Routing problems are common place, but so too are other signs of degradation such as packet loss and sudden large increases in round trip times. If you're with them, switch to a proper service provider (the clue lies in the words "provider" and "service") as soon as you can.

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FAIL

Service Provider.

They are a service provider. In the same way a bull services the cow. They are the bull, you are the cow.

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Unhappy

@Dr Who

My god - who the hell would downvote your comment? Have VM been sockpuppetting El-Reg??

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Was crap over the weekend

Seems ok today though.

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Anonymous Coward

VM

use their proxy? isn't VM the governments bitch now for "blocking" TPB ? By all means use their proxy...so they can see how your getting around things and what else your doing so they can block that.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: VM

"isn't VM the governments bitch now for "blocking" TPB"

N, it's a company that fought and lost a court case, forcing them BY LAW to block it.

As for using proxies, chances are they are there to reduce bandwidth usage you no, what proxies do.

Unless you are using Anon proxies run by the intelligence services; Oooo sorry I forgot they wouldn't use honey-traps to catch the naughty people would they?

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Headmaster

Re: VM

"Fought" is at least a couple of levels too strong for this- in reality they whined a little that it was going to cost money, and said something along the lines of "not without a court order", which was duly provided. Virgin did nothing more to prevent it than simply turn up in court and whine "do we really have to?" like a five year old being told to eat it's greens.

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Outage?

Never noticed a thing...

My Virgin Media connection has been working fine.

Was it only certain areas that were affected?

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Re: Outage?

Same here. No problem at all.

I think a lot of these VM problems that people whinge about are very localised - granted, it's a problem for them and others affected but in three years I've only had silly minor problems (an hour of downtime when the cabinet was opened by kids down the street, and once "lost" a pay-per-view movie because the interactive service on the TV cut out, that they then refunded - everything else has been lost in the noise of me just using my connection as normal).

Given that I'm online or using home as a proxy for much of the day, I think I'd notice terrible service in my area. Guess it's just a postcode lottery thing. Or maybe these people get lots of kids opening their street cabinets and rewiring stuff, I don't know.

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The reg was available to me, rackspace wasn't though...

I couldn't get through to rackspace.co.uk. I could access the com site, but that doesn't help.

This also meant that the control panel was, too, unavailable, even the direct link I dug out from my emails.

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Happy

No problems here

However I use OpenDNS rather than VM's DNS service.

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Re: No problems here

I wish I could, I'm stuck with an old cable modem that doesn't allow a DNS change at the moment.

Still, that'll need to be swapped out soon enough in order to accommodate the latest upgrade in speed on the minimum packages (a Motorola modem from 2001 will only last so long!)

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Re: No problems here

You don't change the DNS in the modem though? You change it in the router...or the OS.

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Re: No problems here

I use OpenDNS. Resolving the IP was not a problem. This was a routing issue, NOT a dns issue.

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Happy

Re: No problems here

Same here although their awful router means that I have to set the DNS individually on very device in the house.

How do you set the DNS in Android?

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Re: No problems here

Yeah, that doesn't work as the cable modem provides its own DNS too. There's no way to turn it off on the cable modem as it is completely locked down.

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FAIL

Re: No problems here

routing is not DNS.

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Re: No problems here

Well you *could* set the dns manually in the dir-615 router they provided. (It works a LOT better if you install DD-WRT router firmware on it). No idea about the others as I don't have them so do not know how locked down they are. You don't have to use the dns VM provide if you have some sort of DHCP server at home and get that to act as DNS to your devices, just remember to set to the OpenDNS routers and not take the offering from the Modem.

To re-iterate, though, this has NOTHING to do with the problems experienced with VM recently.

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Anonymous Coward

Mostly OK

I was unable to access a couple of sites Friday through Saturday but other than no problems.

When I looked at Virgin Media's Service Status the error was described as

"unable to access part of site"

which struck me as a bit odd. Like it had been written by someone who didn't understand the problem or had English as their second language.

The status currently says 'OK'.

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Trollface

Re: Mostly OK

"someone who didn't understand the problem or had English as their second language."

So that would be Virmin Media's technical support team then!

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FAIL

Re: Mostly OK

"Like it had been written by someone who didn't understand the problem or had English as their second language."

i.e. Virgin's "Support". Viring screwed my email a while back, and I got three different and ludicrous responses from India. Only by threatening to close our account did I get to speak to someone who knew what they were talking about.

Our internet went on is a couple of weeks ago. I thought it was a temporary problem, as we were at time clearly connected, but no web or email etc. Modem lights suggested as much. Anyway, support say that our modem needs replacing, and we agree a date and time for the engineer to come.

He or she never arrived. There's no record of anyone being called out for us. And the net came back fine a couple of hours later.

I'd love to complain about this, but am damned if I can find a snail mail address.

Branson and Customer Services are concepts alien to each other. He always does this to companies. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

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Oh really?

I'm sending this through Virgin Media cable and I've had no outage issues all week.

In fact, of the entire year or so I've been with them (out in the sticks), I've not had more than 15 minutes of outage. Maybe this is just a regional thing?

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WTF?

How odd. I didn't have any issues with Virgin Media over the weekend. I'm in Nottingham.. don't know if that makes a difference.

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Unhappy

So...

... who can recommend a fast and reasonably priced VPN service? VyperVPN?

I'm sick of Governments, ISPs and advertising agencies grubbing through every packet. And now it seems that we'll suffer outages, degraded performance and higher costs (to pay for all the monitoring) to boot. Bastards.

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Re: So...

My sister works with the Met and informs me that unfortunately many VPN services are law enforcement honeypots that are even more likely to result in your packets being probed.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: So...

What about one in a country we're not friends with.

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Re: So...

OpenVPN on a $2 Virtual Private Server. Works for me.

Come to think of it, I didn't seem to be able to connect to it over the last couple of days...

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Virgin on the ridic.....

My gripe with Virgin is their issuing the Netgear DGN1000 to their ADSL customers -- a router which has had pretty negative reviews. Worse, Virgin customised the firmware. The router didn't seem to work very well until a recent firmware patch was issued.

I suspect the patch from Virgin only became available some time after that for the standard Netgear version of the firmware.

Orange, who previously used the DGN1000 have recently replaced it with a non Netgear model.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Virgin on the ridic.....

An ordinary off the shelf DGN1000 I bought was terrible for not letting wireless clients access the internet. The problem - but no solution - is well documented in the Netgear forums.

I tried a Orange DGN1000 and that was really no better. Fortunately I now have a business class Netgear wireless access point that I plug in the DGN1000.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Virgin on the ridic.....

Have you checked if you can flash it with DD-WRT, I transformed the crapomized D-Link router I got from them into a fully featured router using it.

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Re: Virgin on the ridic.....

DGN1000 not in the DD-WRT database of supported devices, unfortunately.

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FAIL

BT ogilopoly

With BT's shoddy infrastructure which wiped out most of scotland recently...

and VM's shoddy DNS server with latencies as long as Australia takes.... and their DOCSIS modems reporting MAP timeout and rejection issues (Bandwidth & QoS profiling maps)

Theres no suprise it dont fricken work! I reported some central hub outages to the CEO and tech team, just the other year, due to dodgy routing, no doubt its only become systemicly embedded now!

Best advice I could give, reboot your modem about 5 to 10 times til it routes the hubs differently when you do a traceroute :-P

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Facepalm

"Issues"

Ah, the catchall synonym for problems because we don't use the word 'problem' anymore.

Problem is not a dirty word!

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Re: "Issues"

It can't be a problem, because the incident is still open, with no documented workaround, or service restored.

Gotta love ITIL

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Re: "Issues"

Well, 'love' is certainly one word for it.

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Anonymous Coward

On the brink?

No real problems here (Oxfordshire), but I've had to re-boot the modem a few times, which is annoying and often a sign that trouble is in the offing but hasn't actually struck yet. Email access has also failed a few times, although this is not so uncommon with VM.

In my experience, this sort of behaviour is often a precursor to some sort of service change or announcement by VM, which is possibly why their regular staff are always so utterly clueless about what's going on.

Why am I still with them? Because when it works, I get the advertised speed, all the time. But with speeds going up everywhere, I am starting to think perhaps I could get as much speed as I need from a more reliable service.

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Re: On the brink?

Same here in Warwickshire - several reboots of the modem/router over the last 3-4 weeks. No major problems, though (for instance, I watched the entire Monaco GP on iPlayer on Sunday evening).

The overall VM provision down here is worse than where we moved from (though that seems to be well-known when moving from an ex-Blueyonder area to an ex-NTL area), but the up-time is still good. There still isn't a provider I would go to over VM, having been a customer of fibre-optic providers for well over 12 years now, though that could always change if things became too flaky.

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UDP allowed, TCP not

This has nothing to do with DNS as some people have suggested. It seems that UDP traffic was allowed, but TCP wasn't - in all cases.

This wasn't a 'routing issue' in the conventional sense. Virgin wasn't not routing to specific carriers or IP ranges, this issue related purely to random IP addresses for random customers.

I run a fairly large website, and received complaints about access to one of our servers. Customers affected were in one geographic region only: between Birmingham, West Yorkshire, Liverpool and Manchester. That whole area. Customers from other areas were not affected (in relation to blocks to our services).

When we've had issues with ISPs previously, we've found our entire /24 inaccessible via a given route, and are able to route around it.

In this case, it was specific IPs, for specific geographic regions, and only TCP traffic being blocked.

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Mushroom

Re: UDP allowed, TCP not

Sounds like a config boo-boo rather than knocked out routes.

So glad we're getting away from these cow-boys of an ISP. They messed up our BT Inifinity install by refusing to hand over our number. As a result, BT had to cancel the transaction and we've had to go through the whole process again. This time round, Virgin did call us off their own backs acknowledging the termination of our services to them (which didn't happen first time round).

The acute traffic shaping (past a fixed limit), continous routing issues, modem disconnects for long periods and shoddy CS makes them not worthy of a provider. They even kept BSing my brother when he was at his university place. Kept blaming him/router when it was the USP over-loaded at peak times.

All the money seems to be going to pay Bolt for the ad campaigns rather than bulking their backbone connections.

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I had issues with my connection but only when trying to use Google mainly.

Makes me laugh people saying it's because VM are about to hit us with some nasty suprise, and even makes me laugh when people say choose a real provider.

I would ask them who would that be then, that is going to provide me with more than 80Mb download speed and no usuage cap other than a speed reduction, and who actually has the capabillity to offer more than 200Mb on the current equipment sat in most peoples houses.

I see most people who complain are the ones who think it's ok to leave torrents running at there full speed all day and all night, and it's those people who cause the problems and are the 1st to complain when something goes wrong.

I am happy with my 100Mb connection soon to be 120Mb, I have no issues on normal use or gaming etc and to be honest I know what's in the pipeline so I am happy and will stick with them simply because NO OTHER ISP OFFERS A BETTER CONNECTION.

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you are clearly a shill

With the most recent VM usage caps, you can expect to be throttled by 75% for most of the day after 2 MINUTES of downloading at 100Mb speeds. Nobody who was actually a customer of these crooks would make the asinine statements you are making. The high numbers are for marketing and marketing alone. ALL real VM customers are abundantly aware of this.

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Re: you are clearly a shill

As a VM customer, I agree that they throttle and that the numbers are marketing ploys to snare the kind of people who change their electricity provider every year for £14 cashback ...

... but it's so damn fast. Way faster than any other home connection I've used (home business doesn't count) - I notice a considerable difference between my cable connection and the ADSL connections of my family and friends.

On another note, I don't pay for so called "100Mb", I'm on one of the lower packages. After two downgrades in connection over the last year (not including when they "double" the connection speed for free - i.e. nothing happens) I've noticed no difference in speed, but it's still consistently faster than any other connection I use and rarely ever kicks the bucket.

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Facepalm

Put your brush away...

"I see most people who complain are the ones who think it's ok to leave torrents running at there full speed all day and all night, and it's those people who cause the problems and are the 1st to complain when something goes wrong." - get over, please. put the tarnishing brush away.

There's something called traffic shaping, then there's acute traffic shaping based on ridiculous bandwidth caps. It should be the 100 and 120Mb/s connections that should get throttled, not the lower end 10 - 30Mb/s end. I don't care if you pay more money; the same rules should apply to you too if that's the way VM sees it.

I'd rather have a slightly slower speed during peak when the ISP can switch on more agressive P2P traffic shaping to ensure all customers get a fair connection.

If I pay 20Mb/s, 40Mb/s or 100Mb/s, I'd expect that sync'd speed to be like that all the time. That's what I'm paying for. Not to have it slashed by 75% if I watching too much iPlayer to download a couple of linux ISOs.

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Re: you are clearly a shill

So you're happy with the 75% speed reduction after hitting just 1.5GB usage in the afternoon? If so, you're the first. Damn fast is only damn fast if it is so for more than a few minutes at a time before the 75% speed reduction kicks in. Since these new caps in April, the service and its associated marketing has gone beyond a joke into simple criminal territory. Add the usual genius business move of then insulting all your customers who complain and you have the next Tiscali, on collision course with the ground.

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Meh

Re: you are clearly a shill

All True Scotsmen are aware of this.

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O2 is pretty good in my experience. OK it is only a 13Mb download speed, but I know someone with a BT infinity connection via Plus.net and their download speeds are only slightly faster. To be fair, they only pay 48p per month more than me for it.

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Re: you are clearly a shill

You evidently have something against VM, because you're just making crap up.

The throttling for 100meg customers kicks in after 20 gig of downloads between 10am and 3pm, then the same again between 4 and 9. The only people who have a 1.5GB cap are those on VM's legacy cheapest deal. Oh yes, and for everyone above 20Mb/s, throttling is only 50%, not 75%.

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Re: you are clearly a shill

Is it really that hard for you to schedule your bigger downloads to after 9pm when the service is truly unlimited? Many of the torrent apps have built in schedulers to allow those all important Linux ISOs to be grabber out of hours. At least with VM they clearly publish the download limits and the times they apply.

Yes, some of us are very happy with Virgin. And the impressive speeds. It means we can grab 700MB ISOs when we want them (like VS 2010 as mentioned in another news item). But if we want to get a lot of stuff, we need to think about it.

This comical claim of "being capped in 2 minutes" is a theoretical joke that most people are not going to experience everyday in practice. And if they are hitting that kind of limit everyday, then they need to learn a bit of planning. (I also can't understand why they complain. If they don't like it, change ISPs. Simple.)

I get to experience the ADSL "Service" that some of my clients are given in this city of Brighton. And it really doesn't touch Virgin. Especially when things go wrong. (If you think VM support is bad, you should try calling a few other ISPs!! Cheap call centres are used throughout the industry)

Yes, we all get different experiences based on our different usage patterns and the postcode areas we live in. I've been with Virgin 9 years, and don't plan to go anywhere else.

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Re: you are clearly a shill

(Where's the edit button?) I meant to add that there were no problems over the weekend for me on the general browsing and downloading side. The only trouble I've had is the ISP mailservers run by Google are playing up. Normal mail is unaffected, but trying to use any ntlworld.com addresses are having login problems. Swapping back and forth between smtp.ntlworld.com and smtp.virginmedia.com seemed to get round it on Sunday. Now it just seems to have given up hope.

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