How Do I Reboot or Reset a Cable or DSL Modem Properly?

By Shea Laverty

When your Internet connection is experiencing trouble, resetting or power-cycling your modem is usually the easiest way to correct the issue. While it may seem as simple as flicking the power switch off and on, properly power-cycling your modem requires that you pay attention to timing and how your devices connect to one another. The next time your modem goes on the blink, use the following steps to properly cycle it and restore your connection.

Things You'll Need

  • Paperclip or other small, thin object

Using the Reset Button

Step 1

Shut down any computers connected to the network. With the computers shut down, there's no demand on the connection during its startup sequence. This also acts as an effective restart for your computer.

Step 2

Disconnect and power down any connected routers. The router itself may be the cause of the problem, so temporarily removing it can be helpful in determining if the problem is with the modem itself or the router.

Step 3

Locate the reset button on your modem. Typically these buttons are on the back panel of the router, in a very tiny and sometimes inconspicuous hole.

Step 4

Find a small, thin object to push the modem's reset button. A straightened-out paperclip is usually the easiest and most effective tool, but anything similar will work.Press and hold the button with the paperclip until all the lights on the front of the modem turn off. Once the lights are off, release the button and allow the modem to follow its regular startup sequence.

Step 5

Wait 30 seconds and then start up your computer and connect it directly to the modem via an Ethernet cable. If your service is restored, then try connecting the router to the modem and check to make sure it still works. If a direct connection to the modem still doesn't enable Internet access, check with your ISP's tech support specialists to ensure there isn't some other issue.

Disconnecting the Power Supply

Step 1

Shut down your computer.

Step 2

Disconnect your modem from your router if you're using one, and then check the modem for a power switch.If there is a switch, switch it to "Off" and wait 10 seconds then switch it back to "On."If there isn't a power switch, disconnect the modem's power supply from the electrical socket for about 10 seconds, then reconnect it.Follow the same procedure with your router.

Step 3

Allow your modem to run its regular startup procedure. Once the modem has completely powered back on and all lights are on, wait about 30 seconds and start up your computer.

Step 4

Connect your computer directly to the modem using an Ethernet cable and test the connection. If the connection works, reconnect the router to the modem and test the connection. If it doesn't work, contact your ISP's tech support specialists.

Tips & Warnings

  • Windows has a built-in connection diagnostic tool that may be helpful in figuring out what's wrong. To use this tool, right-click the connection icon in the System Tray and select "Troubleshoot Problems." The troubleshooting tool runs automatically from here on and informs you of any issues it discovers.
  • One of the easiest ways to test your connection is to open your preferred Web browser and try to access a website.
  • For modems or routers that feature a battery backup, remove the battery first before trying any power cycling options. If your modem or router features both a battery and the reset button, the reset button is your preferred method.
  • If you're using a wireless router with your modem, your connection issues may be the result of signal interference. Make sure the router is located away from metal and electronics and in as open an area as possible.
  • Before employing your modem or router's reset button, try disconnecting and then reconnecting your computer from the modem first. Sometimes, this can resolve the issue.
  • Check any and all cables and wires connected to the modem and any routers for damage. Sometimes, connection issues are the result of damaged cables that require replacement.
  • If the lights on your modem are failing to come on at all or the modem is randomly turning off and then back on, the issue may be a faulty power supply. This can be corrected only by replacing the power supply.
  • Sometimes the issue isn't on your end. If you haven't been able to affect any changes, contact your Internet service provider to see if there are issues on its end, or to diagnose the issue with the help of technical support.
  • While these instructions should work well for just about any modem, always be sure to follow the instructions of your ISP's tech support representative above all else.