Always Have a Backup Plan
I've been spoiled with a 24x7 internet connection since I had ISDN installed in May 1999. It wasn't cheap, but it was faster than my 56k modem, which usually ran at about 44k.
I justified it as necessary for my mail and web server for reformed.net, my personal research domain then running on a Quadra 650. But between Ameritech's fees for two ISDN lines and hosting fees, it was about $180 per month. Installation and setup fees were even more prohibitive.
Worst of all, this was at a time that Low End Mac was running solo, so I had no income except for a few affiliate programs and text ads on my email lists. I wasn't losing money, but it really cut into profits.
I reasoned it was a stop-gap measure until we got either DSL or cable modem service here in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
So when I saw the billboard for AT&T @Home service two blocks from home, I was thrilled. Then came the special offer: free installation and only $19.95 a month for the first three months. After that, it would be $39.95 a month.
No matter how you slice it, that's a lot less expensive than ISDN. In fact, that's less than Ameritech was charging for two ISDN lines. So I ordered the service and had it installed in April.
Problem: the service has a no server clause. No web server. No mail server. Rather than risk losing the service, I've kept the ISDN line installed while moving reformed.net to AfterHoursConsulting. At this point, they're handling the Web pages, and I'm still running the mail server.
I'm in the midst of moving Low End Mac to a new server, where I'll also be using lowendmac.com and lowendmac.net for email accounts. Once those mailboxes are set up, I can shut down my mail server, let After Hours take over the few remaining reformed.net addresses, and discontinue ISDN service.
The Backup Plan
I've sometimes been very pleased with AT&T @Home cable service. When it works, it's usually very fast. But it seems to go down with some regularity. As I write this, it's been down for over six hours. And it seems to go down every evening at shortly after 09.00 p.m.
That can be very frustrating.
We're using a Hawking 10/100 Broadband DSL/Cable Router to protect our network and allow more than one computer to access the Internet. It's set up to use IP addresses in the 192.168.10.X range on our network.
IPNetRouter usually uses the 192.168.0.X range of IP addresses internally. To simplify things, I set it to use the same range as the Hawking router. The Hawking router is at 192.168.10.10 on our internal network, while the J700 is at 192.168.10.1. By duplicating and modifying the TCP/IP settings for the different router address and the name server used by the ISP I'm connecting to, switching between the two services is as easy as opening the TCP/IP control panel, typing command-K, and selecting either Cable or ISDN.
Without that backup connection in place, I'd be up a creek without a paddle tonight. No email. No Web access. No ability to upload new pages.
Once I'm finished with ISDN, I'm definitely going to dust off the old 56k modem, switch my Iserv account from the current 10 or 20 hours a month (I never use it to connect, but have used the same mailbox for years) to their 480 hour account. That should be plenty for the times when the cable modem can't put me on the Internet.
Once DSL comes to Grand Rapids, I'll probably abandon AT&T @Home service. DSL usually guarantees more bandwidth than cable. More than that, most DSL providers don't care if you run a server, so it's quite likely I'll start doing that again.
But even that can't promise no connection failures. You still want a backup plan if you depend on Internet access.
Vicomsoft has a few products that can share your internet connection on your network and automatically switch to a backup connection if your first one goes down. It's a very nice feature, one I wish IPNetRouter had - although I'd be surprised if Sustainable Softworks didn't add it to IPNetRouter.
Then I'll really be spoiled with 24x7 connectivity, because it'll automatically switch connections as necessary.
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