Dial-up - Getting disconnected? (Issue 1686)


There are several causes for getting disconnected without notice. The most common causes are listed below:

  • Line noise/imperfections
  • Old, outdated modem drivers
  • Improper or unnecessary phone connections/devices
  • Modem malfunction
  • Modem incompatibility/quality issues
  • Programs disconnecting the connection
  • Call Waiting
These causes are explained in more detail below:

Line noise/imperfections:
If you hear static, echoes, buzzing, or other noise on the telephone line when you're talking to someone, that noise severely interferes with the modem's ability to transfer data. This is relative to the phone line you are using. Be sure that the line you are testing for noise is the same line your computer uses to dial-up. This may sometimes require removing the phone line from the back of the computer, and plugging a handset into it to make a test call. Dial-up modems use sound to communicate. So, if there is noise already on the line, it distracts the modem, causing it to constantly renegotiate and retry sending its data. This results in slow connection speeds and/or slow data transfer. If the noise is too great for the modem to handle, the modem will "give up" and disconnect. In most cases, your telephone service provider and send a repair technician to your home and trace the noise back to its source and perform the necessary repairs to fix the phone line. After that has been done, your connections should greatly improve.

Old, outdated modem drivers:
Most modems today are what's called a "software modem". This means that there is a small software program called a "driver" that is installed into the computer to allow the computer to control the modem and its functions. Due to the ever-changing face of technology, these modem drivers age and become outdated at some point in time. This causes the computer to give the modem old and no-longer-valid commands, which leads to a communication problem with the modem. If the modem cannot communicate effectively, it will eventually drop the call. Most PC and modem manufacturers realize that will happen, and normally make the driver updates available free of charge. If you are familiar with installing drivers on your computer, this can easily be done. If you're unsure of the brand/model of your modem, or are not familiar with how install and update system drivers, you may want to leave this process to a qualified PC repair technician. Installing the incorrect drivers for your modem can result in modem failure or an entire system crash.

Improper or unnecessary phone connections/devices:
When connecting your computer to a telephone line, the telephone line should go directly between the computer and the telephone jack that is mount on your wall. The phone cord should be as short as possible (10 ft, or less is optimal), and should be a magnetically shielded cord (which are usually gray or silver colored, and are normally included with the purchase of a new computer and/or modem). If you have splitters, fax machines, caller ID boxes, answering machines, or any other telephone devices plugged in between the computer and the wall jack, this can weaken and/or distort the telephone signal, causing all sorts of connection problems. Also, certain devices plugged into the same telephone line (some older telephones, satellite/cable TV boxes, answering machines, etc.) can input interference into the line, causing the same problems. If your computer is connected correctly, try unplugging all other telephone devices inside your house that share the same telephone line as your computer and see if your connections improve. If they do, plug one device in at a time until your connections fail. Remove that device from use and that should help the problem.

Modem malfunction: This is normally a rare occurrence, but sometimes modems can stop working properly, and cause various connection problems such as disconnects, inability to connect. They can even short your phone line and make it unusable to you. It is very difficult to pinpoint this type of modem failure. It would be best to have this determined by a qualified PC repair technician.

Modem incompatibility/quality issues:
This is also a very rare occurrence, but it has-been documented by several companies that certain brands and models of modem just don't connect very well. It has also been documented that certain brands and models of modems don't connect very well to certain brands and models of ISP equipment. This is really only a situation that would be discovered if all available troubleshooting techniques (both in person and over-the-phone) have been exhausted, and the problem still remains. The only real way to solve this issue is to replace the modem. However, there are many other possibilities that would arise before one would come to this conclusion. A computer repair technician would be able to assess this only after every other possibility has been investigated.

Programs disconnecting the connection:
Do you get disconnected whenever trying to do something specific? Like send an email, or open a specific program? Chances are, that program is disconnecting you from the Internet. Many programs, including anti-virus programs, and other applications will automatically connect to the Internet to download updates to your machine. If these programs connect and download their updates, they may disconnect you from the internet unintentionally. Many email clients have an option to "Hang up after sending and receiving". If you are disconnected from the internet after sending/receiving your email then this may be your problem.

Call Waiting:
Do you have call waiting with your current phone company? If you do have call waiting then a change to the way you dial up is necessary to prevent you from being disconnected when someone calls you. Where you see your access number when dialing up, the addition of "*70," (without quotations) in front of the number will disable call waiting and may stabilize your connection. For example, the access number 989-3700 would look like *70,989-3700 when displayed in your dial up window.


Line Noise
Modem Drivers