Check my Dial-up Modem is working correctly

Published 11/04/2005 14:42   |    Updated 11/02/2008 15:36
How do I check my dial-up modem is working correctly?
  1. Open the Control Panel

    Move the mouse pointer (also known as a cursor) so it rests on the word Start in the bottom left corner of your screen. Click once with the left mouse button and a list of options (also known as a menu) will appear. Move the cursor onto the word Settings and click the left mouse button again. Another menu will appear - click once on Control Panel.

  2. Open the Modem Control Panel

    Double-click on the Modems icon. This should open the Modem Control Panel like the one below. If the panel does not open and instead you have a window asking you to 'Add New Modem' you should follow the on-screen instructions of the Wizard (which is Microsoft's name for a step-by-step guide that helps you install new hardware and software). Then continue with these instructions.

  3. Click on the Diagnostics tab

    Now click on the Diagnostics tab at the top of the panel. This will show you which of your computer's communications ports - COM1, COM2, COM3 etc - is connected to your modem. In the example illustrated, a Lucent Win modem is attached to COM3 of the computer.

  4. Make your computer test the modem

    Click once on the communication port which is attached to your modem to highlight it with a block of colour - in our example it is COM3. Now click on the More Info... button. You will get a message saying that your computer is 'Communicating with your modem...' and then you should see the panel below. This tells you that the computer can successfully 'talk' to the modem as well as providing details about the modem and its settings. For instance, in the Command/Response window the modem has indicated that it is a 'V.90 Data + Fax + Voice Modem...'. This means that it is a 56k modem that is compatible with BT Ireland. When you are satisfied that your modem and your computer are on speaking terms, click on the OK button to close the More Info... window.

  5. If you get the 'Port Already Open' error...

    In some cases when you click on the More Info... button you will get an error message saying 'Port Already Open'. This is particularly common on computers that have phone software installed, such as for receiving faxes or to work as an answering machine, and it means that another program is using the port that your computer needs to talk to your modem. These programs are usually set up to run as soon as Windows starts, and from that point the modem will not be available. If you get the 'Port Already Open' error, follow these instructions:

    1. Press the CTRL + ALT + DEL buttons on your keyboard at the same time
    2. A Close Program box will appear on the screen. This shows you all the programs that are currently running on your computer. You need to close all these programs except EXPLORER and SYSTRAY. This can be done by selecting each program with the mouse and then clicking on the End Task button. After you do this the Close Program box will disappear and you will need to press CTRL + ALT + DEL and repeat the process for each program.
    3. Once all other programs have been closed, click on the More Info... button again. You should now be able to successfully test your modem. If you still receive the same error then you need to contact the support line for your computer and ask them how to deactivate the phone software permanently.

    Note: this method for solving the 'Port Already Open' error will only work until the next time you restart your computer. To solve the problem permanently you will need to establish which telephony program is running and prevent it from being launched each time Windows is restarted. The safest route to a permanent solution is to contact your PC supplier's technical support team and ask them how to disable the problematic program.

  6. Check the Modem Properties

    Now click on the General tab and then click once on the Properties button. You should see a new window appear like the one below.

    This window allows you to mute your modem from making those screeching sounds when it connects to BT Ireland - simply click on the slider below the words 'Speaker volume' and drag it all the way to the left. The 'Maximum speed' setting should be set as high as possible - in the example below it is 115,200. This specifies the speed that your computer connects to your modem, not the speed that your modem connects to BT Ireland.

    Note: if you cannot click on the Properties button because it is 'greyed out', click once on the name of your modem in the white box at the top of the panel. This will highlight the modem in a block of colour and activate the buttons below.

  7. Check the Modem's connection settings

    Now click on the Connection tab to bring up your modem's connection settings. These should match those shown in the screenshot below.

    The Connection preferences should be set up as follows:

    • Data bits: 8
    • Parity: None
    • Stop bits: 1
    The call preferences are up to you. If your modem has problems identifying your dial tone and you get the warning 'No dial tone detected' when you try to connect then try removing the tick from box alongside 'Wait for dial tone...' Many people also remove the tick from the box alongside 'Disconnect a call if idle...' to avoid being cut off when downloading large files.

    When you have checked that your modem is correctly set up, click on the OK button and then Close to update any changes you might have made and close the Modem Control Panel.

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