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Why does one contact keep signing in over and over to MSN Messenger?

I use MSN instant messaging. One of my contacts is frequently (every couple
of minutes) popping up as just having signed in. Actually, he never signs out
or in at his end, he is still online. Other people who have him as a contact
are complaining of the same thing. Is there a resolution to this problem?

The fact that others are seeing the same behavior as you tells us that the
problem is at your contact’s end. The problem’s very simple to describe, but
potentially very difficult to diagnose.

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In short, his instant messaging client (the program he uses – MSN Instant
Messenger, Trillian, Pidgin or some others) is losing connectivity with the
servers at the MSN Messenger service. Once he loses connectivity the
service then says “oh, he’s dropped off”, and considers him to be off-line. His
instant messaging client then tries to automatically reconnect. When it
succeeds the service then says “oh, you’re back”, and notifies all of his
on-line contacts, such as yourself, that he’s come back on-line.

And of course your contact may not even notice that this is happening. The
client often tries to regain connectivity without bugging him too much, so
there may little to no indication to him that this is happening.

You, on the other hand, get notified over and over again: “he’s back!”,
“he’s back!”, “he’s back!”.

What to fix gets hazier.

About all we can say from the symptom is that there’s a connectivity problem
involving MSN Messenger and your contact. Some of the things he should check
include:

“About all we can say from the symptom is that there’s a
connectivity problem …”
  • the network connection of the computer he’s using. Particularly the cable.
    If possible, he could try using another machine at the same location using the
    same internet connection to rule in or rule out a problem with a specific
    machine.

  • The router and other network devices being used. If possible reboot them, as
    well as any broadband modem. Intermittent connectivity can sometimes result
    from a slightly confused router. Sometimes changing the port on the router that
    the computer is plugged into can help. Again checking the cables is a good idea
    as well.

  • Check any firewall software on the machine being used. Try turning it off
    and seeing if the problem goes away. Firewall related issues rarely manifest as
    intermittent problems, but it’s worth double checking.

  • Make sure there’s not another machine that’s trying to auto-connect with the
    same MSN Messenger account. They could be competing.

  • Lastly, check with your ISP to see if anything related to MSN Messenger
    might be getting filtered or blocked by the ISP’s security measures.

It’s also worth noting that sometimes this is the fault of the MSN Messenger
service itself. Since they run many servers, the machine providing your
contacts connection might be having difficulty while the server you’re
connected to is working fine. In these cases the issues often resolve
themselves after waiting a while.

Update:

The person asking this question replies:

Our IT tech kept playing around with this and discovered the problem and
solution. It turns out that the offending (sending) computer was still
using Windows Messenger, and the receiving computers that were noticing
the problem have Windows Live Messenger. The IT tech had both versions
still on his computer, and was able to simulate the problem by choosing
to use the older version. When he did this, he also kept “signing in
and out” on other people’s computers, even though his own computer said
that he was online the whole time. Once he moved back to Windows Live
Messenger, the problem went away. The computer with the original
problem has now been upgraded with Windows Live Messenger, and the
problem no longer exists.

Excellent information. Not something I would have guessed.

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