Troubleshooting Internet Connection with UptimeLog and Faulty Network Adapters

After buying a MacBook Air (on M2 chip), I thought it would be a great idea to connect it to an external monitor along with another Dell laptop and switch between them using an HDMI and USB-C to Ethernet switch. While the HDMI switch worked well, the internet connection was not stable (I didn't even take into consideration that the USB-C to Ethernet switch may be an issue). In this article, we will explore how you can troubleshoot these issues with the help of a connection monitoring application. By monitoring and logging your connection activity, you can diagnose and resolve problems related to these adapters more effectively.

To begin troubleshooting, install the free internet connection monitor for Mac, UptimeLog. This application provide valuable insights into your network status and can help identify patterns and issues. Just by looking at the calendar heatmap, you can identify common patterns of when and how long the internet connection was down.

Let's begin.

Calendar Heatmap of internet dropouts of faulty network adapter

Step 1: Install the UptimeLog Connection Monitoring Application

Download the application from the homepage, and if you need help, refer to the User Manual.

Step 2: Observe Connection Activity

Launch the internet connection monitoring application and observe the connection activity. The application will display real-time information about your internet connection, including disconnections and reconnections. Pay close attention to any irregularities or frequent drops in the connection. The application should run in the background for a while to monitor internet connection dropouts.

Step 3: Analyze Logs and Identify Patterns

Utilize the logging functionality of UptimeLog to access detailed connection logs. Review the logs to identify any patterns or trends in connection disruptions that occur at the same time as when you use your faulty USB to Ethernet or Thunderbolt to Gigabit Ethernet adapter. Look for specific timestamps or recurring occurrences that may indicate a correlation between the adapter usage and connection issues. This is a crucial step to monitor internet connection stability, as it will help you determine whether this is an ISP issue or if there is a problem with your own hardware.

Step 4: Test with Different Adapters or Ports

To isolate the problem, try connecting your macOS device to the internet using alternative network adapters or ports. If you have multiple USB to Ethernet adapters or different Thunderbolt ports, test them one by one. Monitor the connection activity with the UptimeLog and compare the results. This will help determine if the issue is specific to a particular adapter or port.

Step 5: Update Drivers and Firmware

Ensure that you have the latest drivers and firmware for your USB to Ethernet or Thunderbolt to Gigabit Ethernet adapter. Visit the manufacturer's website and download any available updates. Keeping your drivers and firmware up to date can resolve compatibility issues and improve overall performance. However, I wouldn't put too much hope on it, especially if you're using some cheap devices with limited support for macOS.

Step 6: Check Adapter Connections

Inspect the physical connections between your macOS device, the faulty adapter, and the Ethernet cable. Make sure they are securely plugged in and not loose or damaged. A loose connection can cause intermittent drops in the internet connection. This happens more often than you'd think; having the Ethernet cable slightly loose can cause strange disconnections once in a while, making it really hard to pinpoint the issue.

Step 7: Test on a Different Device

If possible, test the faulty adapter on a different macOS device or a different operating system. This will help determine if the issue is specific to your device or if the adapter itself is faulty. Monitor the connection activity using the UptimeLog application and compare the results. It can happen that the switch device (USB to Ethernet or Thunderbolt to Gigabit Ethernet adapter) works perfectly on Windows but fails on macOS, and vice versa.

Step 8: Contact Support or Replace the Adapter

If the troubleshooting steps above do not resolve the issue, it may be necessary to contact the support team of the adapter manufacturer for further assistance. However, it depends on the device's price; often, it is easier to just order another one than spend time trying to figure out why it doesn't work on your Mac if you are sure that the adapter is the issue here.