Does Your Computer Have a Dial-up Modem?

by Hannah Miller 14. October 2009 20:16

You may be in for a surprise if you're planning to sign up for dial-up Internet. Although dial-up modems were always installed on computers in the past, many computers are now being sold without them. In order to avoid having problems once you're paying for Internet services, you should check whether your computer has a dial-up modem installed. There are two areas to look for a dial-up modem.

First, look at the back of your system unit, or tower. There should be a port that looks just like the telephone jack in the back of a telephone and in the wall. You can use a regular phone cord to test whether the port is the right size (if it's too big, it's not the right port). You will find one of these three scenarios:

  1. There is only one a port, but it is slightly larger than a regular phone port. This is the Ethernet port used for broadband connections, like cable and DSL. If this is the only port you have, you do not have a dial-up modem.

  2. There is one telephone port (often along the bottom, but not always) and a telephone cord fits in it snugly. You have a dial-up modem! If you are planning to use a telephone on the same phone jack your computer is using, plug a splitter in the wall jack, then plug in two phone cords into the splitter for each device.

  3. There is two ports side by side that fit the telephone cord. You found your dial-up modem! The reason you have two ports is because one is to plug a phone cord coming from the wall and the other is to connect a telephone to use when you are not online. The port marked “line” or showing a picture of a phone jack is for the cord coming from the jack in the wall. The port reading “phone” or showing a picture of a telephone is where you plug a phone cord leading to your telephone. *Note: You do not need to use the "phone" port. Also, keep in mind that if you accidentally plug the wall jack line into the "phone" port instead of the "line" port, you will not be able to connect!

If you do not have a modem, you need to buy one. If you do, the following steps will show you how to check if your modem software is installed properly. 

  1. Open Control Panel, then make sure you are in classic view if you have XP or Vista.

  2. Open your modem options. On older versions of Windows, you'll see “Modems”, and on 2000 or newer, you'll see “Phone and Modem Options”.

  3. Click on the “Modems” tab (skip this step if you have an older computer).

  4. Here is a box listing the modem(s) installed on your computer.

  5. Beside the modem it lists where it is connected. It will either have “not present”, or “COM” and a number. (On older computers, click properties for the modem in question and look for “Port:” Your modem must be listed as attached to one of the COM ports, or you modem has been removed or corrupted. If this is the case, you must either reinstall, repair, or replace the modem.

If you have a modem both installed in the tower and listed as properly installed, you are ready to sign up for dial-up. Other minor issues could occur once you try to connect, however, you will be better prepared and less likely to have connection issues upon starting your new service.


Written by Hannah Miller, Online Marketing Representative and Customer Service, is a nationwide Internet services provider that is all-American owned and operated. Call today, 1-800-336-3318 or sign up online at! Check out my blog for more articles! 

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About the author

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

Hannah has been a Customer Service and Tech Support agent for 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

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