How Do I Get My Computer to Recognize My Modem?

A computer requires a modem in order to be able to use the Internet. It is a frustrating situation when your computer cannot use a modem that previously had been working perfectly. It can be difficult to determine whether the problem is hardware or software related, but by helping your computer recognize your modem, you may be able to avoid having to buy a new piece of equipment.

Modem connector, close-up
credit: Amos Morgan/Photodisc/Getty Images

Install a New Driver

Drivers contain instructions that help your computer know how to use your modem. If you have installed a new modem or a new operating system, your computer may need to be given a new set of instructions. Your modem usually comes with a CD containing drivers for different types of operating systems. If instructions for your computer's operating system are not included on the modem CD, or if you do not have access to the CD, download instructions for your operating system from the modem manufacturer's website by using a different computer with an Internet connection. Follow the installation instructions that will appear on the screen after the CD is inserted or once the download is completed. You may be instructed to restart your computer. If the new driver lets the computer recognize your modem, the modem will show as connected.

Use Device Manager

If your modem suddenly stops working, check to see if the hardware is being detected by your computer. Right click on "My Computer", and select "Properties." Under the "Hardware" tab, click the "Device Manager" button. Search for your modem in the list of devices and make sure that it is enabled. If this does not solve the problem, uninstall the modem and restart the computer. The computer should detect the modem upon start up. If the modem shows in the Control Panel but is still not recognized, reinstall the modem drivers, if you have not already done so.

Confirm Hardware Is Operational

Determine if your computer or modem is faulty if, after downloading the correct drivers and reinstalling the modem via the Device Manager, the computer still does not recognize it. Check that all cables and connections are properly installed. If the modem is external, attempt to use it with another computer. If the modem is internal, only access it if you have the skill to disconnect and reconnect it safely. Otherwise, seek technical assistance.

Back up your computer files. Open the computer and review the internal connection of the modem with the COM port, which is where the modem is physically connected with the computer. Disconnect the modem from the COM port and connect it to a different one. If the modem does not work on multiple COM ports, the modem may be defective. If the modem works when connected to a new port, the original COM port may be defective. Refer to the manufacturer of the defective part for information regarding repair.