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Resolving Dial-up Modem Internet Connection Problems (Windows Vista)

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This document applies HP and Compaq Desktop PCs with Microsoft Windows Vista.
This document contains solutions for most common modem problems. Connection problems might result from poor sound quality over the phone line, bad cable connections (bent cables or pins), high call volumes at the Internet Service Provider, or modem drivers and software that are incorrectly configured. This document can help resolve most of these types of problems. Read and respond to each step until a resolution to your problem is found.
Due to the nature of troubleshooting modem connections, it is a good idea to read this entire document first before attempting to troubleshoot the modem connection. It may also be a good idea to print this document for reference while troubleshooting.

Before you begin

Check the following items before troubleshooting dial-up connection problems:
  • To prepare Windows for troubleshooting and to resolve most problems related to Internet browsing, reset Internet settings as follows:
    1. Close any Internet Explorer window that is open.
    2. Click Start , Control Panel , Network and Internet , and then Internet Options .
      An Internet Properties window opens.
    3. Click the Advanced tab, and click the Reset... button.
      A Reset Internet Explorer Settings window opens.
    4. Read the information on the screen and click the Reset button in the new Window.
    5. After Windows resets the Internet Explorer setting, click Close .
    6. Try connecting to the Internet, if the problem still exists continue using this document.
  • Make sure that the telephone cord is connected to the RJ11 port of the modem and not the RJ45 port of the network card. Try connecting again if the telephone cord was in the wrong connector.
    Figure 1: RJ11 modem connector
  • Make sure that an account is setup with an Internet Service Provider (ISP). The ISP should have provided critical information needed to setup your account: at least one phone number for access, a password (if required), special software to setup the account (if used), and special setup information (pop3 email and newsgroup information, encryption or compression settings, and many other settings). The ISP can answer these types of setup questions and help you make the necessary adjustments in Windows if you have not already done so.
  • Find an RJ11 telephone cord that is 6 feet long (1.83m) or less. If possible, find a different cord than the cord that is already connected to the modem.
  • Make sure you have access to an analog telephone line (an RJ11 wall or floor outlet).
  • Find a working analog telephone.

Step 1: Checking phone line connection and sound quality

Poor phone line quality may be the source of not being able to connect, intermittent disconnects and slow modem transfer rates. Complete the following steps to see if the phone line or connection is causing the problem:
NOTE:If you are trying to connect a dial-up modem to a cell phone, a digital line, or VOIP device, this document will not help you as special hardware is probably needed to emulate an analog phone line. Some cell phones can be connected to the computer via a USB cable and appear in Windows as WinModems. In any case, when experiencing connection or setup issues with any of these types of connections, please refer to support provided by the manufacturer of the cell phone or device. The manufacturer may suggest setting the dial up modem to ignore dial-tone or setting a time-delay before dial. The manufacturer of the cell phone or device should be able to provide the information that their device require.
  1. Unplug the phone line from the modem and connect it to a normal analog telephone (not digital). For testing purposes, the telephone cord should connect directly from the telephone connector in the building (wall or floor) to the telephone.
    Figure 2: Directly connecting a phone to the phone line
    NOTE:How can you tell if your phone system is analog or digital? Look at the back of the telephone connected to it. If the phone has an RJ11 (only two or four contacts), a connection and a Ring Equivalence Number (REN) is listed on a label underneath the phone, the phone and the line are probably analog. If you need to dial a number (usually "9") for an outside line and/or the phone uses a tone for a ring, the phone is probably digital. This article does not address digital phone systems as they are not designed to work with dial-up modems.
  2. For testing purposes, make sure all of the following conditions are true to remove as much line interference as possible:
    • Splitters are removed and the cord plugs directly into the wall outlet.
    • The telephone cord is not wrapped around any other wires or the cord is not wound into a loop.
    • The telephone cord must not be near home stereo speakers and any speakers that are near must not be used while testing.
    • All other telephone devices on the same line (the same phone number) are disconnected. This includes credit card machines, fax machines, DSL modems that use the same phone number as your dial-up number, cordless phones (these should be turned off as well). Devices that are connected on the same line can weaken the REN signal.
  3. Lift the receiver on the telephone and listen.
  4. What is heard? Depending on what can be heard, use the following information to help you troubleshoot the problem:
    • If you hear a dial tone , check the telephone line for quality problems. Dial a friend on the same phone and listen for static, popping noises, or other voices on the line:
      • If you think there is a problem with the sound quality on the phone line, call the telephone company to address the problem. Once the line quality problems are fixed, connect the modem to the wall connector, and try connecting to the Internet again.
      • If you can call someone and talk and hear clearly, do not disconnect the phone and go to the next step to see if the ISP is responding.
    • If a dial-tone cannot be heard , the phone connector at the wall (or floor) may be bad or the phone service may be out. Check the phone and the phone cord to make sure that they work. Connect the telephone and cord to a wall connection in another room (using the same phone number), and listen again for dial tone:
      • If you cannot hear dial tone from another room, contact your telephone company to re-enable phone service for that line. Once dial tone is available, connect the modem to the wall connector, and try connecting to the Internet again.
      • If a dial tone is heard in another room, repair the wall connector that the modem was using. Once the wall connector is repaired and you can hear a dial tone on the same line, connect the modem to the wall connector, and try connecting to the Internet again.

Step 2: Dialing and listening to the access number

Using a telephone, call the access number used to connect to the Internet and listen to the handset.
What is heard? Depending on what can be heard, use the following information to help troubleshoot the problem:
  • If a person picks up the line, you are using a wrong number or the access number has changed. Find the correct dial-up Internet access number and try again.
  • If the access number continues ringing and never picks up the line, access may be down. Try using another access number if available or call the support number of your ISP to find out if they are experiencing service problems. Try again.
  • If a busy signal is heard, all lines for that number are busy. Try a different access number or continue dialing until the access number picks up the line.
  • If you hear static or popping noises only when dialing this number, the line quality for this access number is bad. Use another access number.
  • If the access number picks up the line and you hear high-pitched squealing tones, the modem should be able to connect to the Internet. End the call and reconnect the modem to the wall connector using the phone cord and try connecting again. If the connection still fails, continue to the next step.

Step 3: Setting dialing options

Do you need to dial a 9 before placing a call? Are you using call waiting on the same line? Do you normally use a calling card to dial out? If the modem cannot dial a connection to the ISP, or the Internet connection is suddenly lost because another call is coming in on the same line, use the following steps to adjust the dialing rules for the modem. If the modem has successfully connected to the ISP in the past from the same phone number, skip this step.
  1. Click Start , Control Panel , Hardware and Sound , and then Phone and Modem Options .
  2. Select the location and click the Edit button on the Phone and Modem Options window.
    An Edit Location window opens.
    Figure 3: Dialing options for a location
    1 - Calling Card tab
    2 - Outside line
    3 - Call waiting
  3. If the phone number requires the use of a calling card number to dial out, click the calling card tab, fill out the information.
  4. If you have to dial an extra number when calling a number outside of the building, from the General tab, enter the number in the "To access an outside line for local calls..." field.
  5. To disable call waiting when connecting to the Internet, select To Disable Call Waiting, Dial: and select *70 , 1170 , or 70# from the drop-down box next to that line of text or type in the number sequence that your phone service requires for disabling call waiting.
  6. Click OK and try connecting to the Internet again. If the modem still cannot connect to the Internet, continue to the next step to test the modem hardware.

Step 4: Test the modem and repair the modem settings

HP provides a modem diagnostics tool on all computers that come with modems and Windows Vista. Use this tool to diagnose and repair any problems:
  1. Click Start , Help and Support , Troubleshooting Tools , and then Internet Tools .
  2. Click Check your dial-up modem .
    Figure 4: Internet tools window
  3. Select Open the tool and then click OK .
    The modem test automatically starts and progresses.
    Figure 5: Modem test
    Image of Hardware Diagnostic Tools modem test
  4. When the test progresses to the Simple Connection test, a window opens. The simple connection test dials an outside phone number for testing to see if the modem can establish a connection. To do this, fill out any special dialing requirements to reach the outside line.
    • Enter the area code that you are dialing from in the Current Area Code field .
    • If you have to first dial a number before dialing an outside line, enter this number into the Dialing Rule Prefix field.
    • If the phone system is using call waiting, enter the number sequence that disables call waiting into the Call Waiting Disable field. If you do not know the number, the test may still pass if no number is entered. If a call comes in while the test is in progress and a failure occurs, rerun the test.
    Figure 6: Simple connection test dialer
  5. After the test has finished, any failures appear in the Test Results Information screen. Helpful information is shown under results to help troubleshoot any failures that are found. Perform the following actions depending on the results:
    • Dial Tone Test
      • PASS - Indicates that the modem can detect a dial tone on the phone line.
      • FAILURE - If this test fails, the simple connection test should also fail when using a phone line with dial tone. Usually, this is a problem with the phone line, phone cord, or connection. When using a phone line without a dial tone, making the modem ignore the dial tone may resolve not being able connect. To make the modem ignore a dial tone, use the following steps:
        1. Click Start , and enter Device Manager into the Start Search field.
        2. In Device Manager, click the plus sign (+) next to modems.
        3. Right-click the name of the modem and select Properties .
        4. Click the Modem tab and remove the checkmark next to Wait for dial tone before dialing .
        5. Click OK , close the Device Manager window and try connecting again.
    • Modem Loopback Tests
      • PASS - Indicates that internal hardware information was successfully passed from the modem firmware to the diagnostics software. The modem is most likely not the cause of any connection problems. The problem is probably caused by software or a line connection.
      • FAILURE - If either loopback test fails, all other tests may also fail. This indicates that connection between the modem and the motherboard slot (or USB controller if using a USB modem) is bad or the modem is bad. If reseating the modem in its slot does not resolve the problem, the modem should be replaced. If you are using a USB modem, try removing the modem from the port, restarting the computer, wait until Windows fully opens, and then inserting the modem into a different USB port on the back of the computer.
    • Fax Command or Last Call Test
      • These tests only pertain to specific modem functions and should not apply to Internet connectivity - pass or fail.
    • Simple Connection Test
      • PASS - If the connection test passes, the problem is connecting to your ISP. Verify your connection password and contact the support number for your ISP. The ISP should be able to help you connect. If the ISP attempts to help you troubleshoot the modem, be sure to tell them that the modem passed a connection test to remote test server.
      • FAILURE - The modem is unable to establish a connection to remote test server. If the dial tone test also fails, the problem is most likely the phone line connection. If high-pitched connection noises were heard during this test, then the modem was able to dial out but a connection could not be established. Read and respond to any helpful information that is provided. If further troubleshooting does not resolve the problem, the modem may need to be replaced.
      Figure 7: Example of test failure
      Figure 8: Example of test passing

Step 5: Contacting the Internet Service Provider

If the computer is still having issues connecting to the Internet and the modem hardware tests pass, it is possible that the internet connection software that was provided by the ISP is not configured correctly or the settings for the modem are not set to connect to the ISP telephone system. Consult the ISP for help with configuring the settings in Windows and the ISP software.

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