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Packet loss with vista/windows 7 but not WinXP


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15-Feb-2010, 11:57 PM #1
Packet loss with vista/windows 7 but not WinXP
Hello,

Has anyone noticed packet loss in Win7 or Vista that is not present in the same hardware running WinXP?

I have tested this on two separate computers on two separate internet connections (both were using Comcast residential connections). Both computers use the built in NIC on the motherboard (one realtek, one marvell) and are connected (via ethernet cable, not wireless) to the internet through D-link routers (two different models) and mototrola cable modems.

When using a free ping tester to ping a site like google.com at a ping frequency of 1 per sec, the two computers when running WinXP pro will have a packet loss percentage of about 0% to 0.2% if left to run for a couple of hours. On the same computers (dual boot- one with Vista ultimatex64 and the other with Win7 prox64), the packet loss is about 6 to 7% with Win 7 and Vista if left to run for a couple of hours. Seems like a significant drop rate... (all drivers are up to date- I double checked the LAN drivers several times to be certain).

I've seen a few similar posts scattered around on different sites but no universal culprit for the packet loss (other than vista/win 7).
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16-Feb-2010, 09:58 AM #2
The only thing that springs to mind here would be network drivers or some process or application running on the Win7/VIsta machines causing the issue.

I have two vista machines and three Windows 7 machines, they're as stable as the XP machines here. This is certainly not simply a Vista/Win7 issue, something else in in play here.
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16-Feb-2010, 10:42 AM #3
Thanks for the prompt reply John.

I wonder if the network adapter drivers or configurations for vista/win7 are causing the packet loss. One computer I've tested is using the 8111C realtek adapter, the other is using the Marvell 88E8056 adapter. I did see a post on another forum about somewhat similar issues in a realtek 8111DL adapter on a Vista machine that were cleared up by manually uninstalling the driver and installing the most current realtek driver. I guess I could try that on my realtek computer (I have the current driver but didn't manually uninstall all components of the old version), but the Marvell computer is pretty new and has only had the most current driver on it since its creation. Is the 8111C adapter that much diffeent from the 8111D adapter?

Have you ever tried a ping test on your vista or win 7 machines John? The 6-7% packet loss is in most circumstances is asymptomatic, and I found out about it when troubleshooting a prior unrelated network issue. If it's not causing significant issues I suppose I shouldn't worry about it- but I do... just my compulsive nature I suppose.
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16-Feb-2010, 11:05 AM #4
I've run Vista and Windows 7 for a long time here, and I've never seen any evidence of any dropped packets at any point. I can't imagine this being a common issue, losses of that much would surely seriously impact performance in a variety of ways!
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16-Feb-2010, 11:52 AM #5
Hmmmm...

I guess I'm not doing anything on my computer taxing enough for the 6-7% packet loss to become critical with the exception of online gaming, which surprisingly doesn't seem to be adversely affected enough for me to notice (I play mostly MMORPG's- perhaps I would notice if I was playing online FPS games).

So my other thought was that the packet loss was some sort of vista/win7 induced artifact that only showed up in ping testing programs (easy ping tester and web ping tester are the ones I've used and they both yield the same results) and did not translate into real application packet loss, but I'm not sure how that could be.

Thanks again John for your thoughts on this matter.

I would be interested in feedback from other readers running Vista or Windows 7- you can download a free ping tester at:

http://download.cnet.com/Ping-Test-E...-10523393.html

It would be interesting to see if this is an extremely isolated finding (only happening to me!!!) or if others have this issue, and if so, if there are common denominators in the affected systems. If you ping www.google.com at a ping rate of 1 ping every .6 seconds (the default setting on this program), you will see if you're dropping packets pretty quickly.

Thanks in advance for any help anyone can provide.
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16-Feb-2010, 02:47 PM #6
It's running on my other monitor under Windows 7 Ultimate 64 bit, I'll let you know the results. I don't expect any issues.
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16-Feb-2010, 03:19 PM #7
Well, it's not the results I was expecting! I don't have a clue how to explain the results. I get a lot more packet loss on Win7 than XP, here's my runs. Windows 7 on the left, XP on the right.
Attached Thumbnails
Packet loss with vista/windows 7 but not WinXP-ping-w7.jpg   Packet loss with vista/windows 7 but not WinXP-ping-xp.jpg  
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16-Feb-2010, 06:34 PM #8
Those are the results I'm getting- only my loss rate with vista and win7 is a bit higher than yours- about 6-8%.

Do you know what brand of network adapter is in that computer?

The default time out threshold in easy ping test is 500ms. When I change this parameter to 1000ms, I get 0% loss. Perhaps 500ms is more stringent that necessary for real world apps?
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16-Feb-2010, 06:39 PM #9
That could be the issue, I never really thought about it. I figured it had to be something, truthfully didn't think of looking at details.

I can always try it with a longer response time, though 500ms shouldn't be an issue. I suspect there's a process that is delaying the ping responses in Vista/Win7 for some period of time occasionally. I know that normal operation I never see an issue. Maybe I'll give it a try with a longer response and see if I get the same results.
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16-Feb-2010, 06:58 PM #10
Obviously, that's the issue, simple. Here's another run with 1000ms turn-around time. Since I had a couple on XP as well, it's apparently highly dependent on configurations, and networks.
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Packet loss with vista/windows 7 but not WinXP-ping-w7-2.jpg  
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17-Feb-2010, 08:21 AM #11
Thanks again John for running those tests.

My theory is that the drivers for most adapters are just not as optimized for vista/win7 as they are for xp. I had my brother run a ping test for me on his system- a newer gigabyte 1156 socket board with a realtek 8111D onboard adapter running under win7 pro- and guess what: his system has 0% loss even if the time out threshold is set to 500ms. So perhaps the realtek 8111D network adapter is one for which the vista/win7 drivers are better than usual? If you have any boxes there with vista/win7 and the realtek 8111D adapter, I'd be interested in seeing ping data on them. I'm also going to get a hold of the latest intel pci-express adapter and see if it fares any better in the ping test, and I'll post my ping data.
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17-Feb-2010, 08:41 AM #12
The tests were instructive for me as well, never realized there was more latency in Vista/Win7, though I shouldn't be surprised.

Well, I doubt this is the adapter, it's a lot more likely to be latency in the TCP/IP stack, which was changed significantly for Vista/Win7 from XP and W2K. I'm going to guess you won't see any differences running different adapters, once the packet is sent to the driver it should go out immediately. Same goes for incoming packets.
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17-Feb-2010, 10:37 AM #13
I suspect you will be correct about not seeing any difference after switching network adapters.

If so, any theories as to why some Win7 systems have no dropped packets (at a 500ms time out threshold) while others do? Normally I would chalk it up to differences in internet connection quality, but I would think that would be ruled out as my XP boot on the same connection and hardware serving as a control has no dropout with these parameters.
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17-Feb-2010, 01:55 PM #14
Again, anything that intercepts the data in the TCP/IP stack would slow it down. Firewalls, virus and malware scanners, etc. There must be some process that gets loaded on many machines that affects the transit time of packets through the stack.

I suspect booting in Safe Mode with Networking would make most machines respond quicker.

On the bright side, I see no evidence that this latency through the stack has any effect on real data throughput. I think it's just taking a slightly longer trip.
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