The Troubles with Software Modems
Posted by Clarke M on 28 March 2006 05:54 PM
Most modems are now designed to operate without their own processor and rely on the computer to provide this service. These modems are basically phonejack-to-PCI adapters which cost the manufacturer around $5. Watch for terms like, 'Win Modem', 'HSP' (Host Signal Processing) or 'Software Modem'. If you have one of these and your computer gets busy your connection will probably fail. To make your connection more stable you can reduce the number of programs that are running and ensure that 'what modem wants, it gets!'.

To check your system resources on versions of Windows previous to XP:

- Right click My Computer and select Properties.
- Select the tab that says Performance.
- Under Performance Status, look at the second line that says System Resources

Windows XP manages resources much differently, and you will likely have fewer problems when using this operating system. Windows ME will give you the most grief.

System Resources should be 85-90%+ before you connect as there will be a bit of a drop when the modem gets going.

How to raise the %?

Reduce the number of programs that are running at the same time. The best way to do this is to prevent them from starting when Windows starts.

Start - Run. Type 'msconfig' and press enter. Select the 'Startup' tab. It should list all the programs that start when Windows starts. To prevent one from starting uncheck its box. WARNING: unchecking certain entries may cause your computer to be unbootable, so BE CAREFUL.

When you are finished your computer will restart and you may see a message about 'running in selective startup mode' which means that you have selected what programs start automatically.

Another way to improve system resources is to do a reboot. If your computer has been running for a while and a number of programs have been opened and closed, your system resources will benefit from a fresh start. When you close a program it does not always hand back all the memory that it was using. There is nothing like turning the power off to force it to start working with a full deck once again.

A good website to determine which programs can be safely unchecked in MSCONFIG:

- Art
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