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back to article Virgin Media goes titsup AGAIN. The cause? Yet MORE DNS strife

Virgin Media has declined to comment on yet another DNS outage that hit some of its subscribers on Monday night. The telco, when quizzed by The Register, admitted that it had suffered yet more downtime woe but refused to explain what was behind the company's recent network wobbles. A spokesman at the Liberty Global-owned cable …

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Is it because they are....

...massively incompetent, money-grabbing bastards with little to no interest in providing a service worth a spark, let alone a light?

Just a thought, mind.

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Joke

Re: Is it because they are....

Or maybe, Microsoft have issued an ex-parte takeover of their DNS servers, got a judge to agree with it, and hit Virgin with a gagging order stopping them talking about it.....

Nah... that would be too far fetched to be credible

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Hmm. Unless VirginMedia count Nottingham as the "North East", then it most certainly was a little more widespread than that.

My devices connected to VirginMedia started playing up around 2130 last night, and were quickly fixed by tethering to my Vodafone 4G phone instead. Same thing happened on Saturday night too, but perhaps the lack of Reg staff in vulture-central on a drinkies-night meant it escaped appearing here.

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I had problems in London, so they were clearly lying about it being the north east only.

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Virgin obviously think Essex is in the North East too.

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The BS31 postcode in the Twitter quote is between Bristol and Bath, which is obviously both north and east... if you live in Devon.

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Strangely, I am most definitely in the Great North East and I didn't notice any problems at all.

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Sod them for a DNS provider. I've some devices that I can't amend the DNS settings on so setup DNSMasq on my Pi (also my Squeezebox LMS) and turned off DHCP on the Virgin (not super) hub. Works a treat.

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One tip :- don't use the ISP's DNS servers.

Others are :-

OpenDNS

208.67.222.222

208.67.220.220

Google

8.8.8.8

8.8.4.4

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I think the issue here, is more the fact that some of the routers Virgin supply, you are unable to change the DNS settings.

So for mobile devices, hardware devices, you can get quite a few issues.

Yes most of us would know how to setup a DHCP server, but you try getting Joe Bloggs to follow a youtube tutorial to do that. Oh wait no internet !!!!!

:)

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Stop

But you pay for an Internet Service which in my books means they should provide a decent set of DNS servers as well as the connection.

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What sort of tubes downvote correct techincal information?

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@CommanderGalaxian

He listed bits for Google. In these parts we have some people who will downvote anything related to Google. In fact, I sort of surprised it is only 2 as of my post going up.

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So put the Superhub in modem mode and use a decent wireless router instead (I recommend the Asus "Black Knight" with Tomato firmware). Keep the ISP's kit upstream of your private network.

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Anonymous Coward

I kow we're not a tech support forum but if you use their Superhub just as a cable modem and then your own router set to use opendns is that OK. I'm still on the old cable modem (& openDNS - not had any issues) but if I swap I get my current "meagre" 20Meg upgraded to 50Meg next month. (I wonder how many guys out in the sticks are now wishing they could have a VM feed even if it does have the odd outage.)

My biggest gripe with VM is the impenetrable accents of some of their support people.

OOPS read more posts and it seems yes I can do what I asked - one happy VM punter (just need then to fix that accents problem now.)

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It's amateur hour at VM again.

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" many of the ISP's punters continue to be "seriously frustrated about the fact it's not possible to modify the router-provided DNS servers in their SuperHub

Simple enough; buy a better router and put the SuperHub in Modem Mode.

Although I think the outage was more than DNS this time, as my connection was very flakey last night but I am using Google's DNS network-wide.

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It's annoying to have to buy a new router when they're supposed to provide one for free.

Also, if I'm going to buy one then I'll want to buy something good, and by the time I've found something with all the features I want it's in the £80+ range and I can't justify it any more. Ok, that part is more my problem.

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ISP provided routers are all (with very few exceptions) rubbish. Settings like DNS are locked out so that those with less technical acumen don't feel the need to pratt about with them and stuff up their connections.

Of course, when it comes to times like these then this shortcoming does cause a lot of issues, but expecting ISPs to supply top-class routers for nowt isn't realistic. Anyone who wants a properly manageable router should buy one themselves and ISPs should not put any impediments in place to stop that happening.

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Save money!

"all the features I want"

buy a cheap router that is capable of running DD-WRT - win!

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Anonymous Coward

> but expecting ISPs to supply top-class routers for nowt isn't realistic.

It's not exactly for nowt. I'm paying them >£40/month for a Tivo with otherwise most basic TV package, slowest available broadband and a phone line that I dare not use to make calls since every call I could possibly make other than the VM helpline is more expensive than it would be from my mobile phone. There's plenty of margin that could be reduced to provide a decent router. Of course, why would they.

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Anonymous Coward

Anyone who wants a properly manageable router should buy one themselves and ISPs should not put any impediments in place to stop that happening.

Upvote for both, although I never found any restrictions (or I possibly worked around them without thinking, because those restrictions tend to be fairly futile to start with). I *always* use my own router and access point, because *I* control those, not the ISP. No FON crap, no firmware updates behind my back, no passwords that are accessible elsewhere, no possible backdoors or monitoring, a decent firewall and a guest network that is under my control too.

ISP access points tend to be rubbish anyway - in general, they seem to limit the number of devices that can use it concurrently and they only work on 2.4GHz, whereas the 5GHz band is far less likely to collide with neighbours.

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DNS issues in South Manchester as well, not sure that's North East....

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Web Safe?

Maybe it's to do with this http://store.virginmedia.com/discover/broadband/security/web-safe.html

Got an email from VM about it 3 days ago

Could be some kind of DNS filtering problem.

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FAIL

DNS and "filtering"?

Any coincidence I got an email from them yesterday telling me I could enable the (largely pointless and broken) content filtering supposedly there to protect the children?

As for other comments, I was OK as I use the older modem-only device and my own router with OpenDNS.

This article might be of interest to the educated reader when wondering why the gov took such an about-turn on the merits (or lack of) filtering after their own consultation rejected it:

https://torrentfreak.com/the-copyright-lobby-absolutely-loves-child-pornography-110709/

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Anonymous Coward

What outage?

I didn't notice :)

Probably because after I got fed up with the poor WiFi of the 'Superhub' I used it purely as a cable modem and after the last DNS snafu I transferred all DNS to 8.8.8.8 (pointless having more than one DNS server) as it offers the choice of either provider provided DNS details or static for DHCP.

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Re: What outage?

> pointless having more than one DNS server

umm, why not set up primary and secondary DNS to come from *different* providers

when an(y) organisation's DNS goes titsup it's quite likely that it will affect both(/all) their options; this is precisely when falling back to another provider could be useful

I like having OpenDNS as a fallback option; but not as primary DNS because of what happens if a query is misspelled

FB

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Go

Re: What outage?

OpenDNS fixed that as of last month....

http://blog.opendns.com/2014/05/29/no-more-ads/

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VM have never been able to run a reliable ISP business. One obvious indication of the amount of effort they put in is the number of kerbside cabinets of theirs that have the front panel hanging off with the wiring exposed. Been like that for years and year.

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FAIL

North East my arse..

I'm in the South East and I've been affected at exactly the same periods each time.

Lying bunch of no good incompetent w*****s

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"Super" hub ?

When I first got one, I immediately went into the settings, to setup DHCP the way it needed to be.

Couldn't do it. It forces the IP address of the internal network - you can't change it[1].

Sent the POS back as not fit for purpose, and got a discount for the next year. Then they introduce modem mode, and I was able to use a grown-up router (D-LINK). My router dishes out DNS settings, and they ain't VM, which is probably why I had to read this article to realise there was an issue.

[1]Only in the *VM* version of the superhub. Like their TiVo service, you get a nobbled box.

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Re: "Super" hub ?

'When I first got one, I immediately went into the settings, to setup DHCP the way it needed to be.

Couldn't do it. It forces the IP address of the internal network - you can't change it'...

Eh? Much as I dislike the firmware on the Superhub, and VM's support (at least until you get escalated to the UK guys), you're wrong on this point.

You can set a non-default IP (I use a 172.*.* range instead of the default 192.168.0). The DHCP server only gives addresses within its local subnet, but that's no big surprise. I don't use it, 'cos I want a bit more stuff delivered by the DHCP server so I've got a full DHCP server running on my NAS box (was running on a RaspberryPi but I 'repurposed' the 'Pi). Same way as the NAS runs my primary DNS, so I don't hit VM's DNS service anyway...

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@Return to Sender

They may have changed it now. But I can assure you, when I first got it (Jan 2013), you could not set the internal IP address to be anything other than 192.168.1.1 It let you put it in the fields. But when you tried to save it, it reverted to 192.168.1.1. Hence I returned it as unfit for purpose. This was before the fix which allowed you to put it into modem mode.

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Tin foil hat time

Interesting that BT have a similar issue a short while ago also... Maybe a new government back door being installed that broke things?

Or, without the tin foil hat, more likely incompetence.

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Service status page is useless - VM in permanent denial

That the service goes tits up periodically is certainly frustrating, but what annoys the heck out of me is how useless the service status page is. Even when the entire service goes completely offline for half a day it's still reporting "Good Service". Of course it goes further, stuff breaks from time to time locally whether it be a shot amplifier or a weather related problem, but I don't think I've ever in seven years seen a fault reported when it's broken for big chunks of Oxford, not even when it flooded and the internet was hosed for three days in some areas. This is either lazy or outright dishonesty.

Maybe a more useful statistic would be to publish a live chart of the call volumes and wait times, that way customers can make their own decisions as to whether it's likely broken or not.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Service status page is useless - VM in permanent denial

It's not just VM who are in denial. EE refuse to admit to wide ranging issues with their network.

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Re: Service status page is useless - VM in permanent denial

The thing with EE is that most of its legacy Orange/T-Mobile customers are also in denial.

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Anonymous Coward

"Can't comment on the reason"? Well that's an interesting choice of words... someone plugging things into your network and have ordered you to be quiet about it, Virgin?

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Facepalm

Duh

Well, given the gubbermints record of failure with anykind of computer based system - its likely isn't it?

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thats just how it goes

step 1. geeks use their esoteric knowledge and love of technology to set up an ISP and run it reasonably well.

2. well run ISP gets subscribers.

3. more subscribers join until the ISP reaches critical mass.

4. ISP is bought by "media company" and all geeks are fired and replaced with more important salesmen.

5. without routine maintenance or network upgrades going on anymore, prices can be dropped and media company can boast the price drop as evidence they're "running things right dammit".

6. soon the network stops working.

7. media company can't understand why that would happen if you fired all the people that stop it happening. Obvious solution: blame customers for using the internet too much.

8. customers start leaving.

9. media company most now buy another good ISP to get their customer base back to where it was.

10. I hate media companies.

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Headmaster

the outage lasted for "approximately an hour and a half in the North East."

Interesting, does time pass at different rates in different parts of the country?

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Anonymous Coward

Warp factor 9

"Interesting, does time pass at different rates in different parts of the country?"

Yes of courrse, everything is faster in Londonia

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Black Helicopters

It's obvious innit

The GCHQ "patch" the other week buggered up the NSA's connection, so the NSA have had to update theirs on order to protect us.

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Not just Monday

Lost all internet access on Friday for a while (or maybe I missed that story), internet services are frequently flakey. My phone shows 'Your internet connection is unstable' message more often than not and because we only got broadband and TV, but no phone. it's almost immposible to complain to the useless b$%£%ds. This is in Birmingham, so nowhere near the North or the East, seemed OK Monday though.

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Anonymous Coward

South West too.

Bristol area = slower than dial-up.

Switched to Google's DNS = broadband!

Obviously I checked Google's privacy policy for the DNS and I was shocked that (a) it was readable, (b) it was brief and (c) it was safe to use.

The VM status page was, as ever, useless. As was their Twitter feed. Partly because until I switched the DNS I couldn't get either to load, whereas once I *had* switched the DNS I no longer *needed* either to load.

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Ah, yet again saved from any inconvenience by my setup:

Internet router (in this case SuperHub in modem mode, but previously everything from dial-up modem to cable modem to ADSL2 from several different providers in several different houses)

Forwards everything to a WRT54G that actually DOES the proper routing, DHCP, DNS caching, etc. (and also has proper, real security on it beyond what WPA2 can provide, is a VPN endpoint, DynDNS client, etc.).

Which offers everything else out to the rest of my network. Which has never needed to be renumbered, or even needed a single setting set (DHCP for everything).

Impact: Zero. The WRT54G hasn't used any ISP DNS in its life - OpenDNS, Google DNS and my own private DNSMasq running on a VPS all the way.

Impact during the previous outage: Zero.

Impact when SuperHub wireless was found insecure? Zero (the wireless isn't even switched on).

Impact when moving house / changing ISP's / sticking on a 3G dongle for an emergency connection? Zero - get an Internet connection out of a Ethernet cable somehow, shove everything down it, plug it into the WRT54G, done.

To be honest, the amount of times it saved me has paid for the router and initial configuration hassle ten times over. I thought we were supposed to be IT people on here? Having to change DNS at every computer? Haven't set a DNS setting on something that wasn't a static-IP AD DC (with deliberately hard-coded settings) in over a decade.

People moaned about the SuperHub etc. being a heap of junk - I wouldn't even know - it doesn't do anything but pass traffic, doesn't even try to *interpret* traffic, for me. And so has always just worked. The real config is on the device that's older than any of the computers that use it and has been running 24/7 all that time. And, similarly, can be replaced in a heartbeat with some bodge if something goes drastically wrong.

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Anonymous Coward

> People moaned about the SuperHub etc. being a heap of junk - I wouldn't even know - it doesn't do anything but pass traffic, doesn't even try to *interpret* traffic, for me.

That's just what they want you to think...

http://www.theregister.co.uk/Design/graphics/icons/comment/black_helicopters_48.png

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Black Helicopters

Funny these outages happening

as some very serious allegations are flying around the net ....

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Virgin DNS

Set superhub to modem mode, add firewall and router. set dns to 8.8.8.8 and 8.8.4.4 or open dns.

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I must be the only person in britain who

has never had cause to complain about my VM service. Been with them since 1998 (NTL) and the only time my internet hasn't worked is when I haven't paid the bill on time. I do have 8.8.8.8 set up as secondary DNS on my main PC, though we use mobiles over wifi a lot and no one in teh house has mentioned any issues.

EDIT - Correction, i lost internet for a few days last year when scrappers stole the aluminium cover from my local junction, and the kids ripped all the wires out, and all teh local dogs peed against it, but that's hardly VMs fault

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