A Barricade on Our Path Along the Information Superhighway

October 6, 2014

There was a situation that hit our office a few days ago that was just maddening. All of a sudden we were unable to visit our own Web site or our e-mail. The only other Web site that seemed to be failing was that of our Web host which made it difficult to file a technical support ticket.

Now I’m sure you’ve all had situations where your Internet connection was out, even for a short period of time. In that case, you can’t go anywhere on the Internet. With this issue, the obvious answer seemed to be that somehow the IP address of our office had been blocked from the data center where our server is hosted. This had happened in the past when something we had done had triggered an automatic block. In those cases, it was found we truly did nothing wrong and it was just the filtering being over-sensitive.

As part of the analysis of this outage, I was asked to run the “tracert” command at a DOS prompt. The more technically minded of you will understand, others are probably baffled by anything involving DOS. In short, this command tells every stop on the Internet between your computer and the desired destination.

Below are several of the hops along my route that day and you’ll see that after the 13th stop, it failed.

The last computer listed is owned by Qwest. I am not a Qwest customer (and will never be a customer thanks to mistakes they’ve made in the past) and my Web host does not use them as a provider for the data center where my Web server is hosted. Think of it as a spot on the highway that you must pass. Except this spot is supposed to give information on the next stop on your trip.

After a lot of digging, it was determine that the folks at Qwest had installed a new router that led to the outage. An engineer had typed in something incorrectly that provided wrong directions about the proper route my computer should take on the Internet highway. As soon as the typo was corrected, my connection worked fine again.

Why this long story? I’m sure some of you are frustrated at times when you can’t reach a particular Web site. I think most of us immediately think something is wrong with that site. Maybe it is because some random engineer at a stop along your path just made a typo that makes it impossible to connect. It sure was stressful since we were unable to do business for about 12 hours while this was all sorted out. The problem, and the solution, were a company that isn’t one of our vendors. Ah, the strange world of the Internet.

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