A Guide to Buying a Dial-up Modem

by Hannah Miller 15. October 2009 20:10

So you need a dial-up modem. Don't let the task of finding and installing the right one overwhelm you. If you are looking for a way to save money, but not get stuck with something cheap, you don't want to hire a technician to install one for you. It might be easier, but it's not necessary. If you get the right modem, it's easy to install and won't cost a fortune. But first you need to understand some things about dial-up modems in general.

Never buy a used modem. For one thing, you won't know if its actually going to work, and it could be also missing the installation instructions and driver software CD you need. A new modem may be more expensive, but money you save getting a used modem is not worth the frustration it not installing correctly or wearing out much sooner than a new one.

Not all modems are the same. All Internet services require that you have a modem or some similar equipment, but there's a big difference between a broadband modem and a dial-up modem. Any broadband modem will not connect to dial-up—it would be like trying to fix a tractor with car parts! Most modems say “Dial-up” “Cable” or “DSL” in their name, however, if you aren't sure, check the description on the box before you put it in your cart, or ask an attendant or friend to help you find the right modem.

Check it's compatibility to your computer. What version of Windows is operating your computer? Or is it a Mac? Do you have a desktop or a laptop? Make sure the modem you have chosen will be able to install on your computer. External modems, the type of modem that plugs into the outside of your computer are usually compatible with almost all computer types.

Make installation simple. Keep in mind that external modems will be much easier to install than internal modems (which require you to unscrew the cover from your computer tower, etc.) Also, external modems can easily be moved if you want to use it on more than one computer. If you have a laptop, you basically have to install it externally. Even on a desktop, installing an internal modem takes much longer and involves the risk of damaging other computer parts in the process. With an external modem, all you have to do is plug in the modem into a USB port and run an installation CD.

Get the latest standard. This is another reason not to get a used modem. Modems are constantly being improved over the years with compression technology that can dramatically improve your connection speed. V.92 was introduced in 2004. It has the fastest upload speed yet (improved from 33K to 48K), an Internet Call-Waiting feature that allows you to put the Internet on hold to take calls while online, and improved connection speed (both while connecting and once connected).

Try looking online. If you need to get connected right away, you probably want to buy your modem locally. However, if you have access to the Internet elsewhere, it might be worthwhile to look online. You can find websites, like Newegg.com, that show the prices of several competitors, read about different types of modems, and have more modems brands to choose from. Many stores either don't offer or offer very few types of dial-up modems, because the demand for them has decreased. Don't forget to calculate shipping costs when you are looking for the best price, and make sure you understand the seller's return policy.


Written by Hannah Miller, Online Marketing Representative and Customer Service, Copper.net.

Copper.net is a nationwide Internet services provider that is all-American owned and operated. Call today, 1-800-336-3318 or sign up online at www.copper.net! Check out my blog for more articles! 

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About the author

Hannah Miller is an Online Marketing Representative for Copper.net - America's best provider for Dial-Up Internet Service since 1997.

Hannah has been a Customer Service and Tech Support agent for Copper.net since 2007, which has supplemented her knowledge of dial-up, computers, and the Internet. The entries that are posted in this blog are professional articles relating to our industry. Email your questions, suggestions, and other comments to hmiller@copper.net.

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