Dial-up Modem Gone Bad: Fix or Buy?

July 1, 2009 at 11:44 am (Dial up) (, , , , )

Dial-up Internet services depend on a number of things to work properly: The Internet service provider, the access number, the phone company, the phone line to your house, the jack, splitter, surge protector, phone cord, and computer in the house, and of course, the dial-up modem. Unfortunately, the dial-up modem can often be the culprit and not be so easy to detect. Modems, like cars and other technology, can begin causing problems or cease working entirely without warning.

There are several possible reasons your modem would not work properly, or at all.

  1. Your modem is not installed correctly or the software is malfunctioning.
  2. Your modem needs to be updated with new driver software.
  3. Your modem is out-of-date or its software is corrupted.

Here are some solutions to fixing or replacing your modem (and how to decide which is needed), should any of these scenarios be the cause dial-up connection errors or frequent disconnects.

Reinstalling your modem. You may simply need to reinstall your modem. If you have a newer version of Windows, i.e., XP or Vista, you can usually reinstall your modem quite easily. First, open your Control Panel, then “Phone and Modem Options”. Then click on the Modems tab and select your modem from the list, “The following modems are installed” and click Remove. Then restart your computer. Windows will detect your modem and either install it on its own, or a “Found New Hardware” Wizard will appear and guide you through the installation.

Some modems cannot be reinstalled without a driver CD, so this should only be done if you are sure that this is the original modem that came with the computer and that you were not provided with a modem driver CD upon purchasing your computer. If you bought your modem separately, you probably have the drivers CD. Keep this handy as you will need it again when you reinstall your modem.

Suppose you are not sure if you had a driver CD. You may decide to try a reinstall anyway because it does not cost you any money and could be the quickest way to fix your modem. Be forewarned that your modem may not reinstall correctly and you could worsen the situation during re-installation. On the other hand, if it wasn’t working anyway, you have little to lose as you can always buy another modem.

Updating your modem software. You may wish to update your modem software if you have an older computer or if you have successfully reinstalled your modem and you still have problems dialing up to the Internet.

You may have difficulty with this step if you are not familiar with computer technology. In order to update your modem software, you must first know what type of modem you have. Your modem name is listed in the same place where you remove your modem for a reinstall (see above). You may also have this information with your computer’s manual (providing the modem came with your computer) or your modem’s manual.

Once you know what make and model you have, you can browse online for your modem website to download any software updates for your modem. You may also need to download the original drivers for your modem if you tried previously to reinstall you modem and can’t get it to reinstall properly. You may need to see a local technician for help with this step.

Buying a new modem. Unfortunately, sometimes your modem cannot be repaired because it is too out of date to accept upgrades or the software is too corrupted to be repaired. This is typically the case if the above two steps don’t work or you have an older computer. This can be a good thing. Newer modems are more reliable, not too expensive (usually $20-50, as compared to $50-150 for broadband equipment), and may help you get faster speeds due to newer technology.

In any of these scenarios, you may be better off to buy a new modem anyway. It could even save you money if you have to take your computer to a technician. Why pay more to fix an old modem?

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