Stayin' Alive - Interruptions To Remote Monitoring

I'm must wondering what methods members use to keep their Internet link stayin' alive for remote monitoring. I'm sure everyone has faced the problem of the Internet link going down and staying down, even after the Internet provider has fixed an issue at their end.

One cheap revival method is to use an electronic timer which cuts the power and then restarts the modem every night. That's a reasonably good solution for a residential user who's away on holidays but it's not good enough for most businesses, especially during the night when there may be no staff in the office to power cycle the modem.

A more expensive solution would be to have a redundant Internet connection, such as 3G or 4G. While that works well for modest demands, it's likely to be expensive for monitoring video for any length of time as 3G and 4G data plans are usually comparitively expensive, as well as much slower than hard-wired broadband.

I've been looking for a simple solution which is likely to revive the main Internet link almost as soon as the Internet provider has overcome problems at their end, rather than waiting up to 24 hours for a scheduled restart of the modem. The best solution I've found so far is the Aviosys IP Power 9255. It has a WatchDog or Auto Ping feature which frequently pings one or more IP addresses to see if it/they can be reached. If unsuccessful, it can power cycle the attached equipment (esp. a modem) to help revive the connection.

The pros are this device seems to do what I want. The cons are:

  • Costs more than many ADSL2+ modems!
  • Auto Ping is not the main function of the device and it is designed to perform lots of other complicated and technical tasks.
  • The overly complicated software interface doesn't seem to have been developed by a human being.
  • The unit itself is ugly.

I'd greatly appreciate hearing from any member who has an elegant solution to reviving interruped Internet connections. I'd also love to hear about any other products with a WatchDog/Auto Ping feature that just do that and little else so as to keep the product simple and hopefully less expensive. Thank you for any ideas!

The issue with 3G or 4G as a backup is that a lot of carriers won't allow you to stream for any length of time over that connection. And they routinely block ports that might be needed for remote monitoring. Plus there's the risk of data plan overages if the main is down for awhile.

If you want a backup internet connection, I'd recommend getting another wired connection (DSL or cable modem or fiber or whatever is available there). It's going to end up costing practically the same as a 3G/4G connection, but likely be more reliable.

My question is: how are you going to connect both of these internet connections at the customer's site and set them up for failover? And are they all using DDNS? The IP address will obviously change when the main ISP goes down.

For the auto reboot (which I agree is a good course of action), I've used this unit, which is simple, but it works. It sells for about $100 here and can control two devices.

Digital Loggers also has a larger one (8 outlets) which sells for about the same price. I know people who have used this one but have never used it personally. You can look at their web interface for yourself on their demo unit.

Of course, I just remembered after typing all that that you're in Australia and these are all North American product. The iBoot (another one I've heard of people using, but never used myself) is listed for 105-240VAC, so should work. The interface looks simple, as well.

Thanks Ethan for your detailed message. I completely agree with your comments about not liking 3G/4G as a redundant link but sometimes I find there are no other better options.

My question is: how are you going to connect both of these internet connections at the customer's site and set them up for failover? And are they all using DDNS? The IP address will obviously change when the main ISP goes down.

There are some combination ADSL2+ with 3G (or 4G) modem routers. If the ADSL2+ link goes down, they can automatically switch over to using 3G/4G. You make a good point that the IP address will change as a result so DDNS has to be used in this case.

Thank you very much for the links to the auto ping units. I really like the look of the PI Manufacturing unit but, alas, it appears only to be available for the USA. I will ping them to see if they have any other country models. The 8 port unit also looks very good although is probably overkill for my purposes.

The iBoot unit looks OK but is much more expensive than the Aviosys unit in Australia. However I appreciate that you've found some other options and I'll check it out to see if the extra cost is worth it. If it's much more intuitive, it might be worth the price.

A lot of the auto ping units provide IEC power sockets which usually cannot be directly connected to ADSL2+ modems. It's not too hard to find IEC to USA or IEC to Australian cable adapters but in some other countries, these kind of adapters can be difficult to find and without them, the auto ping units cannot be used. This is one case where the Aviosys unit helps because it already has the relevant country's power socket type built in.

Luke, have you looked at any Draytek ADSL product? This 2830 has triple concurrent WAN capability (load balancing) as well as scheduled rebooting. Several people claimed that it had true watchdog/reboot capability in the latest firmware, but I can't find it the docs. :(

I find it strange that such a feature is not standard for ADSL, since I know several wifi routers who do include true ping/retry/reset options. One of them, the AIRGateway from Ubiquiti ($19.00), provides a passive POE passthru port also. I powered my cable modem from the POE out of the Ubiquiti and gave it a dead ip to test for, hoping that when it would reset itself it would at least glitch the POE out (since it can control it), but no luck.

Hi Rukmini, thank you for the link to the Draytek ADSL product. The triple WAN capability does look very good if you are within its LAN. However if you are outside of the network, then the issue with the IP address changing when switching between WAN links will still be an issue and the use of DDNS will be necessary.

I agree with Ethan's comments about the downsides of using 3G/4G redundant links. Where I live, there is usually little benefit to having a second ADSL link from a different provider as almost all ADSL providers uses some infrastructure from the biggest telco here. That often means that if the primary ADSL link goes down, the redundant link also goes down which is frustrating. The only way to overcome that is to use two different technologies for the two links, e.g. fiber optic and ADSL2+. Depending upon whether there is fiber optic or EoC or something else in the area, the cost can be prohibitive.

In regards to auto pinging and scheduled restart features built into modems, I've read reports of this not always being reliable with some modems. I would have more faith in a dedicated rebooting device for restarting a modem rather than an integrated component.