Service Pack 1 Breaks DSL Internet?

Windows 7 Logo and Frowny Face

When Good Windows Goes Bad

I had a bizarre experience installing Windows 7 Service Pack 1 for the first time.  I was helping a relative with their routine computer maintenance, which evolved into a three-part service call.  During my first visit, I made sure all of the Windows Updates were installed, including Service Pack 1.  That part went according to plan.

On my second visit, I learned that the computer was no longer able to connect to the Internet for about 10 to 30 minutes after it was turned on.  The primary symptom was that the computer was receiving a new DHCP lease from its DSL modem but was unable to ping any address or resolve any name.  In roughly the time it took me to figure that out, make a futile attempt to reset the modem, try to release and renew the DHCP lease, find the ISP’s phone number, and work my way through the ISP’s annoying automated telephone menu, the Internet connection suddenly started working.  I later rebooted the computer and encountered the same problem, worked through the same steps, and saw the computer’s connection suddenly start working again after a delay of many minutes.

On my third visit, I brought a known good laptop (running Windows XP, of course).  I verified the Windows 7 SP1 machine was still persistently failing to connect to the Internet after start-up, then switched the DSL modem to my Windows XP laptop and turned it on.  The known good machine had no trouble with the DSL modem.  Grasping at straws to try to resolve the problem with the Windows 7 machine, I decided to surf the modem’s configuration.  This was a typical SpeedStream DSL modem with PPPoE keep alive enabled and all of the default settings.  Nothing seemed to be wrong with the Internet service.

One thing caught my eye though.  The default DHCP lease time on these modems is 10 minutes, or roughly the time Windows 7 with SP1 is unable to connect to the Internet.  I changed the lease time to one week, and observed a total restoration of service on Windows 7 during the first start up.  The machine now boots up and connects to the Internet with no problems.  I can only draw the conclusion that Windows 7 Service Pack 1 is somehow incompatible with common DSL modem settings.

Update: June 8

After a week of reliable Internet service with a DHCP lease time of seven days, the Windows 7 computer is no longer able to connect to any address.  As far as I was able to determine from a phone conversation with my relative, the machine again requires service as a result of the Windows networking failure.  I might try to get it working in person, but I know it will fail again whenever the DHCP lease expires.  This may be related to DHCP issues reported in Windows Vista and 64-bit versions of Windows 7.  If so, the best solution might be to disable the crippled DHCP system and use static addressing.  For Windows to screw up such a fundamental networking concept is just inexcusable.

Update: June 9

I explained the procedure for disabling Windows DHCP to my relative over the phone to get the DSL connection back up.  The modem seems to recognize this change automatically, but I went the extra step and updated the modem configuration to private addressing just to be safe.  Now the Windows 7 computer can at least access the Internet as long as the ISP doesn’t change its DNS settings, and the broken DHCP client won’t bother us any more.

1 Jun 2011

Systems Engineering



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  • Steve says:

    Having exactly the same trouble.. since installing SP1 i cant connect to the net. other computers without Sp1 connect no problem. tried uninstalling Sp1 via system resore but the problem remains.

  • KastleBravo says:

    I had a similar problem that is now resolved. Upgraded to IE9 and had Internet connection problems. Reverted back to IE8 (uninstall IE9 and IE8 is there) and it got better. Seems like ATT and DSLwas just intermttent for a couple of weeks as it is 100% now. Big Side note: ATT should be more forthcoming in admitting they have a problem. A lot of home computer buffs use thier skills to troubleshoot/repair a problem that isn’t there. Just don’t do anything drastic so you can recover to original config when ATT/DSL magically re-appears.

    • miqrogroove says:

      Keep in mind SP1 and IE9 are separate installs. IE9 is still considered an optional update. In this article, IE9 was never installed. So, I have no idea if those problems are related, but it makes me glad that computer is still running IE8.

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