LAN slow or dead, intermittently

Ernie Luzar luzar722 at
Mon Jun 27 12:50:51 UTC 2016

Janos Dohanics wrote:
> Hello List,
> Please help me figure out what makes my LAN intermittently slow or just
> about dead.
> The LAN consists of a pfSense router (m1n1wall), a Netgear GS724T
> switch, a recently installed FreeBSD 10.3 machine, several Windows 7 Pro
> machines, androids and iPhones, and a Brother printer, altogether
> between a dozen and 2 dozen networked devices. 
> There are no local servers on the network, so as far as I can tell,
> most traffic to and from the local nodes is with the internet
> Desktops have wired connections (100 MB or 1 GB NICs), but the phones
> and most laptops are connected by WiFi.
> WiFi is provided by a Linksys E1500 configured to work only as a WiFi
> AP.
> There is also a Linksys RE4000W WiFi extender on the network.
> The FreeBSD machine, the printer, the switch, the E1500 and RE4000W
> WiFis have static IP addresses. Most of the Windows machines have
> reserved DHCP addresses, the rest are unreserved DHCP. pfSense is
> providing the DHCP server.
> I started to investigate the problem using mtr(8) which runs every 10
> minutes. Several times in my testing, the average RTT between the
> FreeBSD machine ( and the router's LAN interface
> ( was hundreds of milliseconds. Also, several times, 1 out
> of the 10 packets is lost, but whenever this packet loss occurs, RTTs
> are mostly 0.1 or 0.2 ms, but always less than 1 ms.
> Pinging various hosts on the LAN at times is in the 10s of milliseconds
> or higher.
> Using my FreeBSD laptop and the FreeBSD machine, I tested the LAN with
> netperf(1) which showed over 80 Mbit/s in good times but also less than
> 1 Mbit/s at other times.
> During off-hours, I have disconnected and then reconnected computers
> one by one, but could not identify any as the culprit. Replaced the
> switch and patch cables - the problem is still there... intermittently.
> None of the Windows computers seems to have any malware which might
> flood the network. I looked at pftop, and traffic seems to be legit -
> but how could I see all LAN traffic and possibly correlate it with the
> slowdown? Could this be caused by a broken networking hardware? How
> would I identify that?
> What is the intelligent way to track down this problem? Please advise.

I also had performance problems with 10.3 that did not happen with 10.2 
and older releases. When the lan went dead I had to reboot the host 
system to get things working again because users were on my back. I 
never let this condition exist to see if it would resolve it self.

My first solution was to go back to using 10.2 and everything was fine. 
  One evening I swapped the hosts 10.2 hard drive with the 10.3 hard 
drive so I could test some more. Just by luck I checked the date & time 
by issuing the "date" command. The date was correct but the time was -2 
hours off. I manually set the correct time using the "date" command and 
let 10.3 run as production. With in 5 days the lan network was having 
performance problems again. I checked the host time and it was off by 
-30 minutes. I replaced the host motherboard battery with a new one and 
manually set the correct time again. Things ran ok for about 2 weeks 
when it happened again. This time the time was off by -2 minutes.

This time I enabled the base ntpd time daemon by adding this to rc.conf

Since then 10.3 has been running ok [2 months now]. I think some thing 
in the network stack code changed between 10.2 and 10.3 that made the 
time sync between lan nodes and the host, time range dependent.

I would say that checking the time on your host and all the machines on 
the lan would be a good place to start looking for your problem.

Good luck

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