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Dial-up > Modem Help
Modem Disconnection Problems

Unfortunately modems are analog devices and your modem will disconnect whenever noise or loss of signal on your telephone line exceeds your modems ability to deal with it. The source of the issue can be your modem, the wiring in your house, the phone cables from your house to your phone company, or any number of other reasons. This article will help you with many common and advanced troubleshooting steps to resolve this issue. If you require assistance, you can contact us to help you resolve your issue.

Common Issues and Resolutions

  • By far, the most common issue is the modem itself. Modems have the highest failure rate of any component in your computer system. The quality of the modem can also make a big difference.

  • Be aware the modems automatically disconnect after exactly 15 minutes of inactivity. If you disconnect while composing an email for exactly 15 minutes look into composing off line or being sure your computer is doing something to keep the line active. See this FAQ to modify this setting.

  • Try changing the number you use to connect to the Internet. This FAQ will show you how to change your access number.

  • If your disconnection issue only happens in email, and not while surfing the web, your email client may be automatically disconnecting your Internet connection. See the topics for email disconnections.

  • Check your phone line for any kind of noise. Modems are analog devices, so they are very sensitive to any kind of noise on the line. Start by disconnecting every single telephone device in your house (phones, answering machines, caller id boxes, cable/satellite boxes, security system, etc, etc). Plug each device back in until the noise returns to locate the trouble device.

    Another type of noise would be foreign radio transmissions (generally in the form of 60 cycle hum). Motors in fans, air conditioners, refrigerators, garage door openers are common culprits when the motors are engaged. Other common devices that can introduce line noise are radio transmitters and cell phones.

    If there is still noise on your phone line, and you have tried the mentioned troubleshooting steps, there could be an issue with the phone wiring between your residence and the local phone company. Contact your local phone company to resolve this.

  • Add 3 commas to the end of the phone number being dialed. To do this, use the following steps:

    1. Open your dialup connection (do not connect)
    2. Click on settings or properties
    3. Add 3 commas to the end of the phone numbers (no spaces). For example, it should look something like 651-393-2600,,,
    4. Click on Ok to save the changes.

  • Reinstall all your network and modem drivers. The use of a previous service such as AOL sometimes goofs up your modem and network drivers making it incompatible with other services. This seems to be increasing in frequency. This is usually resolved be reinstalling all networking but can also require reinstalling the modem. See reinstalling a modem and network.

  • Reduce your video usage and reduce the number of programs active. Very often a system's video controller uses so much system resources that there is insufficient CPU time left to control an internal modem. To reduce your video usage do the following:

    1. Click My Computer
    2. Click Control Panel
    3. Click Display
    4. Click Setting
    5. Reduce colors to a lower number.
    6. Reduce size to 800x600 or lower.

  • If your connect speed is high (above 40k) but you can't stay connected, your phone connection may be too erratic to maintain that speed. Trying a slightly reduced speed could help maintain a constant connection. Follow these instructions to do this.

Have a particularly difficult connection problem or no technical people to help you?
While we have the most experience with connection issues, for general computer maintenance try contacting Computer Renissance, Geek Squad, the Byte Shop, etc.

Be careful and aware that vibrations and static of transporting your computer, especially during dry winter months, can on rare occasion cause new problems for which we are not responsible.

Did this Frequently Asked Question provide the information you were looking for? Provide us with your Feedback and suggestions for improving this FAQ.


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