How to Tell If a Computer Has a Modem

With Internet access becoming more affordable, and the increased number of Wi-Fi hotspots available for portable web access, crowds of consumers without web access are looking to get "plugged in." While most newer computers come with built-in modems, some lower-end computers or older-model PCs do not have stock modems installed. Unfortunately for anybody without a stock modem, Internet connection will be impossible until a functioning modem is purchased and installed. Luckily, you don't have to worry and wonder about this extra expense; you can tell if your computer has a modem simply by making a few clicks or looking for telltale physical signs.

Looking for Virtual Modem Evidence

Step 1

Click on the "Start Menu."

Step 2

Click on the "Control Panel" from the list of Start Menu options. This will open a new window.

Step 3

Click on "Hardware and Sound."

Step 4

Click on "Device Manager" from the new list of options that appears. According to Microsoft, the Device Manager is a place for viewing all drivers and installed hardware on your PC—including modems.

Step 5

Click on the small "+" symbol next to the "Modems" heading. This will expand the Modems directory, showing you all modems currently installed on your PC.

Looking for Physical Modem Evidence

Step 1

Look in the back of your computer for modem input ports. The input port for a dial-up modem will look identical to a household phone jack; input ports for cable or DSL modems look like slightly larger phone jacks.

Step 2

Check laptops for wireless Internet card ports. These ports vary in size and appearance, depending on the brand of laptop you're using; however, they will almost always be clearly labeled, or contain an icon featuring an antenna with lines representing "airwaves" on either side of the antenna image.

Step 3

Check for a small "on/off" switch labeled "wireless" or "Wi-Fi" if you suspect your laptop has a hidden, internal wireless card rather than the external card slot mentioned in Step 2.