Pfsense frequently stalls, needs manual disconnect+reconnect, is it my config?

  • I've been using pfsense for a few months now but I'm still having frequent problems with my connection.  I'm using PPPoE passthrough (UK ADSL) and I've read the threads on it, but I can't figure if it's a known issue some people have, and workarounds to try, or something specific I've done with my config.

    Draytek Vigor 2820 used in PPPoE passthrough mode, with a LAN IP assigned to allow ADSL connection monitoring from the LAN side.
    Pfsense installed on an Intel D845GERG2 mATX board, using an onboard Intel 82562ET for WAN and an Intel PRO/100 S PCI card for LAN.  Pfsense handles the ADSL authentication at present.

    ADSL speed is stable at about 10 mbit/sec down. Networking seems to be fine, but repeatedly degrades or fails. It sometimes happens several times a day.

    Network traffic ceases. Sometimes it seems to slow or partly fail beforehand, so the last time I was still able to ping out for maybe a minute, then when I tried tracerouting from the PC that to locate the issue that failed, then all external connectivity failed. The pfsense router becomes very slow indeed to respond, pages take 1 - 3 minutes to load, no idea why. It shouldn't be waiting for DNS or anything since I'm accessing it by its LAN IP. The Draytek shows ADSL is up but (being in passthrough mode) it can't say whether ADSL login's failed or be used to ping externally since pfsense is handling those functions. Pfsense becomes too slow for diagnostics like ping/traceroute to be used, their pages are either frozen or not loading. (Solving this bit would be nice!) Oddly the pfsense "main" page is more responsive than other pages. Pfsense's main status page and status -> interfaces show PPPoE up for a long time after connectivity has ceased. Sometimes after maybe 5 - 10 minutes pfsense will change to show the WAN is down but often it keeps showing it as up. Either way if I go to status -> interfaces and click to disconnect PPPoE (if showing "up"), then click again to reconnect PPPoE, everything goes back to working fine immediately.

    I've set conservative "always work" settings where obvious, but I'm not expert at pfsense or hardware so I might have missed something. Intel NICs were a deliberate choice for that reason since their networking gear is usually good, but I might not know places where fine-tuning would help. I have a Zyxel 660 series I could substitute for the Draytek and handles PPPoE passthrough, but I can't work out how to configure it correctly or allow monitoring of the ADSL link, whereas Draytek support were able to explain how to do it for their router. That might be a fall-back option in case there's any reliability issue at the Draytek/Pfsense link.

    Troubleshooting help appreciated!