How to Tell If a Computer Has a Modem

By Richard Kalinowski

With Internet access becoming more affordable, and the increased number of WiFi 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 "WiFi" if you suspect your laptop has a hidden, internal wireless card rather than the external card slot mentioned in Step 2.

References & Resources