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(This is an experiment. Don’t know if you guys appreciate getting this kind of ask here at lobste.rs and a kind moderator (Irene) suggested I go ahead and ask as a try out)

These are two tech support questions whose answers I have not been able to get from my web searches. They are probably not related, except they both seem to be software related on the same machine and they are both slowly driving me mad. I thought to ask it here because you guys are my go to place for techie people.

Machine: MacBook Pro (Retina, 13-inch, Early 2015) OS X El Capitan 10.11.6 (15G1108)

Issue 1: Periodic network drop outs

Symptom: pinging a website, or even the router, will result in a string of small trip times (say 20ms) punctuated by much longer trip times (say 500ms - 1000ms) or even packet loss.

Internet search hit: https://discussions.apple.com/thread/1208774?start=0&tstart=0 (look for the answer by eyepac: https://discussions.apple.com/message/5748265#message5748265)

Solution: delete /Library/Preferences/SystemConfiguration/com.apple.airport.preferences.plist

Problem: The problem comes back after a while and the only solution is to delete the file again and reboot the machine

Issue 2: USB HDD drives no longer recognized

Symptom: USB mice, USB flash drives all work, but different USB HDD which work on other macs and windows machines no longer show up in DiskUtility or the System Report.

Solution: Reboot the machine.

Problem: It works for a while, but then stops working.

Thank you so much for considering this problem!

Best -Kaushik

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    All of the macs in my immediate surroundings (my MacBook Pro Late 2013), partner’s mac (similar, newer MacBookPro), mom’s mac (MacBook Air from 2015) showed symptoms of a network issue that looks surprisingly like yours. Mom’s laptop was having the same issue in a completely different environment, 1300km away. At first it drove me crazy, and I bought an ethernet dongle, just to get any work done. You’ll be happy to know that we all stopped experiencing the problem once we upgraded to Sierra :)

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      Thanks for your reply! Ok, I guess I’ll upgrade. Typically, I’ll do a backup, planning to close everything and install the updates and restart, and while the backup is running I’ll start some work, and here I am a week later, still not upgraded because I don’t want to lose my terminals and tabs :)

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      So first things first, backup (obviously) and upgrade to Sierra. Apple’s not very good about patching older releases even for security. The bugs might have been fixed. If that doesn’t do you any good, a last resort is a reinstall.

      On your network, I’m curious what version of WiFi you’re using (11b-11ac) and the frequency, and maybe the channel. Is your spectrum crowded with other routers?

      If you need another place to ask, there’s likely a Mac focused Stack Exchange site.

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        Thanks for your reply!

        1. Ok, will try an upgrade.
        2. 802.11ac, channel 52. Don’t know how to get the freq though
        3. Yes, both at home and at work there are over 20 routers within range.
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        The WiFi issue is hard to diagnose without more info - what AP/router are you using, how far are you from it, etc.?

        Regarding the USB drives, I have seen something very similar that’s caused by VMware Fusion. It’s a known issue and the solution is to mount the drive first, without Fusion running. Not sure if that helps at all…

        As @calvin said, another place to ask is Stack Exchange.

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          Thanks!

          A. I have a question for you: why do you think this is a router issue? I was leaning towards an issue with my own Mac because

          1. Rebooting (+ deleting that config file) solves the problem, albeit temporarily - like a few days
          2. Other computers around me, mac os and windows, using the same router don’t have this problem
          3. Pinging just the router itself also shows this problem.

          but I know nothing about networking.

          In answer to your question, I’m two floors above the home router and may be 30ft from the work router, but never had this problem for 2 years or more before. Gotta check what the routers are, but I suspect the home and work routers are very different.

          B. I don’t have VMware installed though I had VirtualBox installed. Could that be an issue? I just rebooted the computer to backup, as you guys suggested, and things are working fine - as they are wont to but things will go south again in a bit, perhaps a day or two.

          I regularly sleep the computer - I never ever turn it off or reboot. Could repeated sleep-wake cycles cause this kind of thing?

          Thanks again for humoring me!

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          Followup: Thanks to @ludwinas and @calvin! I upgraded and the problem has not come back.