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Modem and internet access problems can offer a number of symptoms.
Usually, the first thing to check is whether the operating system is able to communicate with the modem. In Windows, click on Start, Settings, Control Panel, Modems. If the Add New Device Wizard appears and offers to detect your modem, your problem is that Windows has either not set up a modem yet and does not know one is present or has lost its knowledge that a modem exists in your computer. The approach is to allow the Add New Hardware Wizard to try to install your modem. If you have a disk which came with your modem be sure to click on the Have Disk button during the installation process.
If the Add New Hardware Wizard did not start up after clicking the Modems icon in control panel, you should see a window titled modem properties. Choose the Diagnostics tab, highlight the COM port to which the modem is installed, and select More Info. If Windows is able to communicate successfully with your modem, a vertical list of items, with "AT" (ATtention) and a number on the left, with corresponding list of modem responses on the right should be shown. If this information appears, you know that Windows is able to send signals to your modem and receive responses. If you receive a message that the port could not be opened, check to make sure there isn't a conflict with the port used by the modem. Sometimes, when starting a computer, a message will be seen that warns of an IO conflict. This can occur if one of the serial ports on the system board is attempting to use the same address as the modem. The usual means of correction is to disable the conflicting serial port on the system board. In other cases, the port cannot be opened if the modem is failing. The best approach is to try a different modem.
If Windows was able to send commands and receive responses, through the "More Info" button as described above, try using the phone dialer under accessories, to call another phone (cell phones are real handy for this). If you receive a message that no dial tone was detected, ensure that the phone line was indeed inserted into the "line" rather than the "phone" jack on the modem. Most modems have two jacks: one to connect the modem to the wall and the other to optionally connect the modem to a desk phone. If the line from the wall is inadvertently plugged into the "phone" jack, the modem will not be able to detect a dial tone. If this is ok, try connecting the phone line from the wall directly into a telephone. If you do not hear a dial tone you have a problem with your telephone line. If you do hear a dial tone you should try a different modem. If the phone dialer was able to make a separate telephone ring, your modem and telephone lines are physically ok and you need to suspect software problems.
If a software problem is suspect, make sure your driver is the most recent release. Use a friend's computer if necessary to access the modem manufacturers web site to download the most recent driver for your modem model.
If you are having trouble connecting to your Internet Service Provider and either a message appears indicating a modem cannot be found or you cannot hear the modem dialing, check to ensure that the correct port is being accessed. In Windows, use click on Start, Settings, Control Panel, Modems, highlight your modem and click on the Properties button. The resulting screen will show the Com Port used by your modem and is the port, which needs to be the port used by the program which, connects you to the internet.
If you use America Online and find you cannot access the World Wide Web, even though you can connect to the AOL site, try uninstalling and then reinstalling your browser.
If your problem has not been covered please e-mail specific questions to me at email@example.com
ComputerBill's Computer Repair. All rights reserved. Last reviewed: 21 June 2001