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Darren_B
BT Devices Expert
BT Devices Expert
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Message 31 of 43

Re: BT Mini Whole Home DNS requests for Microsoft, Google and Apple every second

Hi @martin_z,

If the WAN is lost the discs will still continue to operate on LAN only. Primary disc will have Red LED and all secondary Discs will have Blue (or Orange) LED.

Most of customers are not as tech-savvy as others (like yourself) and just want plug and play.  So not everyone will know how to diagnose the issue or login to their router. Our intention was to alert the user to an issue and then they could open the App to troubleshoot the issue and get themselves back online.

Darren_B

 

 

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pratattheback
Aspiring Contributor
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Message 32 of 43

Re: BT Mini Whole Home DNS requests for Microsoft, Google and Apple every second

Also, I've blocked the discs from querying DNS and they still show a blue light and good connectivity, so I question the value of the test.

martin_z
Aspiring Contributor
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Message 33 of 43

Re: BT Mini Whole Home DNS requests for Microsoft, Google and Apple every second

@Darren_B - I'm sorry - what?  The reason you're spamming Microsoft is so that you can switch an LED red?  Are you actually serious?

Come on - think about it.  You try to make a connection to the internet on, say, your phone, and it doesn't work.   So you think - hmm - wonder what's happened? So you wander into the room with the primary disk.  It's is normally in the same room as the router.  The router has lost it's connection to the internet.  It'll normally have a little red light blinking, which means "Hey, I've lost my connection to the internet!"  So you switch the router off and on again.  If that doesn't work, anything more than that will required a phone call to the internet service provider.

Do you really think that the user is going to find that additional little red light on your disk that useful?

 

apbarratt
Aspiring Contributor
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Message 34 of 43

Re: BT Mini Whole Home DNS requests for Microsoft, Google and Apple every second

Thank you for this update @Darren_B

I still view this as something that should have had an immediate hot fix rolled out but if the earlier implication that this fix already existed, but just hadn’t been rolled out is in fact not true, then I can understand a realistic testing process taking longer. 

Can you now confirm that an investigation has been begun as to why this was ever allowed to be known about for so very long but not addressed? Because it does not seem right to say that this is a change based on our recent feedback, you yourself described this as “a known issue” 17 months ago that would “be resolved in the next firmware release for the BT Mini”.

I recognise that the public response is important here for any company in this situation, but the suggestion that this was not in fact a known issue but is something being addressed simply due to the preferences shown in our personal user feedback suggests that the development team or perhaps those managing it are attempting to play down or ignore the severity of this issue completely.

After all, 1 attempt every second (going to three where the first two fail) amounts to 54,000 requests every hour from one household having bought the 5 pack of BT Mini Disks. I myself am blocking 0.8 million requests a day right now and I’m only running three disks right now. And that’s just one household.

Further to this, in May of this year, you wrote “I appreciate that this feels like we’ve been overlooking the Mini Whole Home Wi-Fi, but that isn’t the case.  We’ve been focusing our efforts across the whole range of Whole Home Wi-Fi products.”

Which leads me to wonder how many other products may exist with issues like this that have simply not been addressed as they don’t register highly on the scale of priority.

And of that scale of priority, you followed up that last statement with: “Although this issue is known and understood, the Mini’s current firmware has been very stable for the majority of our customers with minimal cases into the Whole Home helpdesk.”

But the question of the stability of these disks was never in question. Indeed, it would appear to us in your latest reply that they have been operating exactly as designed. I would also question just how many home Wi-Fi users are installing personal DNS servers and viewing the logs being output from their BT Mini Disks.

Indeed, whilst I have had regular issues with sites reporting suspicious activity, my investigations have always been to see if I had any particularly odd software running that I wasn’t aware of. Or to assume that Google or Cloudflare or similar web services were simply becoming a little over aggressive in their security. It simply would never have occurred to me that there were in fact an endless bombardment of requests coming out of my Wi-Fi devices. It certainly would never occur to me that such a thing would be by design either. Especially in devices specifically designed to be bought and run as a collection together.

So it doesn’t surprise me in the least that you’ve never had all that many tickets logged for this. Indeed, even I discovered the issue by accident whilst setting up other equipment within my home.

But a lack of complaints from a group of people who don’t know to look does not make this issue any less severe, especially once you actually know that it’s happening.

So again, results from investigations into how this happened, what steps to take to make sure it doesn’t happen again and perhaps most pressing of all, how many more products are out in the wild aside from the mini that are issuing requests like this and will as much urgency be given to them too? Or will a lack of complaints be enough to put off the concern for the time being?

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Darren_B
BT Devices Expert
BT Devices Expert
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Message 35 of 43

Re: BT Mini Whole Home DNS requests for Microsoft, Google and Apple every second

Hi @pratattheback,

The suggestion to offer the ability to disable the Internet Check has been discussed amongst the team this week. It won’t be available in the FW planned for the wc 21st, as we’re bringing forward the release date of that planned FW.

The Whole Home Wi-Fi App is designed to be compatible with all 3 variants (Original, Mini & Premium), but sometimes there are dependencies with needing a new version of the App before we release Disc FW.

Darren_B
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martin_z
Aspiring Contributor
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Message 36 of 43

Re: BT Mini Whole Home DNS requests for Microsoft, Google and Apple every second

@Darren_B 

And another thought.  If the reason you're doing this is so that the master disk can switch on a little red light, why do ALL the disks have to do this?

And to your point about using the app to diagnose - people would probably do that when they don't get their connection on their phone whether or not they see the red light.  And when you open the app, it could start by doing a WAN connectivity test.  No WAN connectivity - suggest to the user that they reboot their router.  Job done!

@pratattheback is absolutely right.  This is functionality that an access point should not have.

Still, thank you for the update and explanation.  I do appreciate that you are just the messenger here, and you're having to field a bunch of angry users (and possibly The Register too).

But these disks should never have been in this state for seventeen months.

apbarratt
Aspiring Contributor
612 Views
Message 37 of 43

Re: BT Mini Whole Home DNS requests for Microsoft, Google and Apple every second

I’d also add to this, after now reading your follow up comments, the confirmation from my end that indeed, not one of my BT Mini disks has a red light or is indicating any difficulty within thr WholeHomeWifi app. It’s almost like these internet checks were never actually working at all.
In fact, I can recall several instances where my internet has gone down and I can see my Virgin router blinking to say it’s not connection but my BT disks never made a peep. Nor would I have expected them to, they are meant as no more than network switches, they’re not even routers.

I could understand if these disks were in fact routers or modems, but they’re not. Which may hint at my previous concern that this firmware uses as it’s basis firmware where such a connectivity check would have been of use. But only on that one single device running the DHCP server or internet connection for the local network. And I’d never have expected it to be happening every second.
And I agree with the suggestion above also, that this option, where on devices that require it at all, should provide the option to turn it off (I note that I’ve a TP Link device that does provide this option). Or indeed, to configure it to run more often if we need it to for a while. Because I can see more frequent checks being useful for debugging as has been implied. But that’s it. For debugging. When I’m debugging software, I can configure logging to a more verbose setting and collect all data, but I’d never have that happening in normal day to day conditions.
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martin_z
Aspiring Contributor
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Message 38 of 43

Re: BT Mini Whole Home DNS requests for Microsoft, Google and Apple every second

@Darren_B 

Me again.  @apbarratt mentioned that he remembered losing connectivity and didn't see any sign on his disk.

So I just tried the obvious test.  I disconnected the WAN from my router.  It started flashing amber, indicating a problem.  After about a minute, the BT Whole Home app on my phone popped up a banner saying "hey, your internet access has a problem".

The lights on all my discs stayed resolutely blue.  So, if the reason it's pinging Microsoft once a second is to put up a little red light, it ain't working.

So - really - what is actually going on here?

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SeanD
Community Manager
Community Manager
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Message 39 of 43

Re: BT Mini Whole Home DNS requests for Microsoft, Google and Apple every second

Good morning,

Updated firmware (version V1.0.28) is now available for BT Mini Whole Home Wi-Fi.

The new version contains improvements to stability and the planned change to the reduction in the frequency of Internet checks to once per minute. 

To get the latest firmware use your Whole Home Wi-Fi app. Go to “Settings,” then “Firmware update,” select “Check for updates” and follow the instructions.

(If you have auto-updates enabled, the update will be automatic within the next 2 weeks). 

Thank you for your patience while this new firmware version was developed and sorry for any inconvenience caused.

Cheers

Sean

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apbarratt
Aspiring Contributor
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Message 40 of 43

Re: BT Mini Whole Home DNS requests for Microsoft, Google and Apple every second

Thank you for this update Sean.

I can confirm that having updated, I am now seeing 32 blocked requests every minute from my four disks, rather than the 720 I was receiving before.  Unblocking the requests would presumably cut this down to around 10 which would indicated the disks are pinging Microsoft each about every 30 seconds.

It's not ideal, but it is an improvement, one I hope you will continue to improve upon.  Hopefully with updates now a little more frequently.

I do hope an investigation into other devices has been performed too and you haven't limited this particular fix only to this particular device if the bug appears elsewhere.

As a point of interest, I would note that in rebooting the wifi after the firmware update, I was able to monitor where all my household devices pinged to check their connection status.

  • My Ring camera devices all pinged off to a variety of sub domains ending in ring.com
  • My Alexa devices all pinged off to a variety of sub domains ending in amazon.com
  • My Philips Hue devices all pinged off to a variety of sub domains ending in meethue.com
  • My car charger pinged off to server with a domain name containing its own manufacturer id
  • My 3D printer software pinged off a device using octoprint's own servers (octoprint is a non-profit, open source service, not a large corporate telecommunications body with vast amounts of money and resources available to it).
  • A variety of smart plugs from different manufacturers interestingly all went off to one same chinese smart plug manufacturer's domain name.
  • The only devices that chose to contact a service that was not made by the people who manufactured it, were the BT Mini disks, which each hit Microsoft, was blocked, then contacted Apple, was blocked, then finally contacted Google, where it was blocked.  Then continued to do this every 30 seconds in perpetuity.

I would further note that even after updating this firmware, in the time I have taken to write this message, there have been 2,404 requests made by devices in my house, including by work machines that are being actively used.  40% of these requests were to Microsoft/Apple/Google from my BT Mini Disks.

So thank you for this improvement.  It's a step in the right direction, but I think you'll agree that even just through the method of comparing other connected devices within a household, this is still, demonstrably, very much a work in progress.

My hope is you will be able to respond with the next steps and their time line by the end of the day.

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