Modem Troubleshooting for Windows 95/98

Here’s one specifically for all of you who use Windows 95 or 98. This article will present a good picture of how you can troubleshoot modem related issues in Windows 95 or Windows 98.

The common causes of modems not working in Windows 95 / 98 are several. Below is a listing of some of those.

  • IRQ or resource conflict.
  • Drivers or modem software not installed properly.
  • Electrical storm damaged or reset modem.
  • Third-party TSR utilizing communication port.

Before troubleshooting the hardware / software portion of the modem, please make sure that the modem is properly connected to the phone line. It is common for modems to not be connected properly, either because of improper setup, a cable becoming loose or someone disconnecting the cable to be used elsewhere. Here are few items to check to help ensure that the modem is properly connected.

Two Phone Holes – The majority of modems today have two phone holes that allow a phone connection to be connected. Connecting the modem to the improper hole will cause the modem to not work. When inspecting the back of the modem, you will commonly have either text indicating what each hole is and/or a picture of a phone or modem. Almost always, the cable coming from your wall should be connected to the ‘line’ or ‘line in’ hole (or the hole that does not have a picture of the phone next to it). The other hole allows the user to connect a phone to the back of the computer to also have a phone next to the computer. This can also be used to check for a dial tone.

Special Splitters – Some older modems may require that you connect a splitter into the modem itself. If your modem and/or computer included a splitter, it is recommended that it be used in case it is required. This generally only applies to modems that have one connection on the back of the computer. If your computer modem does require a special splitter, it can only be obtained from the computer or modem manufacturer. A standard splitter will not work.

Type of Hole – The standard phone hole for a modem is referred to as a RJ-11 connection. Many computers today also include network cards which utilize a RJ-45 connection. That is extremely similar to the RJ-11 connector, but is slightly bigger. Ensure that if you have a network card and a modem that you are connecting it into the correct hole. In addition, make absolutely certain that you have a modem in the computer and not just a network card. A lot of times the computer may not have a modem at all.

Analog vs. Digital – If you are unable to get your modem to work, verify that the line you are connecting to is an analog connection. Many locations, such as hotels, will have a digital phone jack. If this is the case, a special connector will be required to convert digital to analog. These types of connectors can sometimes be purchased at the hotel or a local Radio Shack.

The next checkpoint for you is to make sure the modem is being seen properly by the Device Manager. Below is a basic example of what the Microsoft Windows Device Manager may look like when it is open.

To get to the Device Manager, right Click on the My Computer Icon, select Properties, then select the Hardware Tab. Then click on the Device Manager Button.

In the Device Manager, ensure there are no other devices listed. If other devices are listed, click the + (plus sign) by the other devices and remove all peripherals under the category by highlighting them and clicking Remove. The reason you need to remove those is because other devices listed within the Device Manager will generally cause problems with other working devices, such as the modem.

If no other devices are present or if they have already been removed, click the + next to the modem entry. Ensure that there is only one modem listed beneath the Modems section. If you have more than one modem, remove all of the modems listed under this category and reboot the computer. If you have the correct modem listed under the Modems area, make sure that there are no ! (conflicts) or X (disabled devices).

Next, verify that the correct ports are listed. Check beneath the ports to be certain that the correct communication port is installed in the computer. To verify, click the + next to Ports (COM and LPT) and verify that at least, COM1 is listed.

If each of the above steps appears to be fine, you can run More Info on the modem. If the Device Manager appears to be okay, run More Info on the modem by clicking Start, Settings, Control Panel. Within the Control Panel, double click on Modems.

Under Modems, click the Diagnostics tab.

Once in the Diagnostics tab, first ensure that the modem is installed on the correct port. If this appears to be correct, highlight the port the modem is currently installed on and click the More Info button

This should bring up a screen giving additional information about the computer’s modem (you should see several ATI command and responses). If you are able to bring this up, everything is good. If you are able to run More Info successfully, but are still having difficulties connecting to your Internet provider, make certain that call waiting is not enabled on the computer. If it is, we can disable the Call Waiting feature as follows:

Disabling Call Waiting

It is important to remember that if you have one phone line and you disable call waiting, no one will be able to reach you.

Windows 95 / 98 users can disable call waiting by following the steps below:

  • Click Start, Settings, Control Panel.
  • < font size="2" face="Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif">Double click Modems within the Control Panel.
  • Click the Dialing Properties button.
  • Check the box to “disable call waiting.”
  • Select the appropriate code to disable call waiting. This code is usually *70.

Finally, to test the modem, you can attempt to connect to a local or long distance phone number.

  • Click Start, Programs, Accessories, Hyper Terminal or Start, Programs, Accessories, Communications, Hyper Terminal.
  • In the Hyper Terminal window, double click Hyperterm.
  • As the name, type “test” and click OK.
  • Enter the area code and phone number.
  • Click Dial to dial the number (your ISP’s number).

By following these modem troubleshooting steps, you should be good to go!

~ Ramachandran Kumaraswami