Troubleshooting your Internet connection and modem

Yesterday your Internet service was fine and today it's not. The problem can be something major but is more likely something minor. For instance, maybe when you rearranged the furniture, you disconnected and reconnected the modem cords but didn't get them quite right. That's ok. These kinds of problems can be frustrating but are usually easy to solve.

Untangle your cables and cords

It never hurts to double check the cords and cables going to your modem.

  • Is the modem plugged in, turned on and getting power?
  • Are all the connections tight and secure?
  • Are all the cords and cables connected to the correct port or outlet?

If you think the problem could be with how your cords are setup, but you're not sure what's supposed to be connected where, don't worry. Read How your modem cords and cables should be connected for an explanation of what to do. (If you're you trying to fix a problem with your wireless, read Troubleshooting common wireless connection problems.)

Avoid common setup mistakes

Setting up your modem wrong can cause problems with your Internet connection.

Keep these best practices in mind:

  • Don't use a DSL filter between the wall phone jack and the modem.
    The modem already has a built in filter, so don't connect an in-line filter from your telephone wall jack to the modem. (This is the only phone line where you don't want to use a filter.) Putting a filter on this line prevents the data signal from reaching the modem, impacting your Internet connection.
  • Don't connect modem phone cord to splitters, filters, or phone jacks in surge protectors.
  • Don't connect the modem's phone cord to phone splitters or phone jacks built into surge protectors.
    The phone line connecting the wall phone jack to the modem DSL or LINE port shouldn't have any type of equipment attached.
  • Don't connect from the wall phone jack to the modem port labeled PHONE.
    The phone cord that runs between the wall jack and the modem should go into the modem port labeled DSL or LINE (label varies by modem). The PHONE port on the modem is intended for connecting to a telephone device. 

Restart, reboot and verify

  1. Restart (power cycle) the modem.
    Unplug your modem's power cord for at least 20 seconds and then plug it back in again. Wait 2 minutes for the modem to finish its restart.Note: Keep in mind your modem runs 24/7. An occasional break gives it an opportunity to clear out the old and reduce any built up heat.
  2. Restart (reboot) your computer or device.
    Power OFF and restart your computer (or device). To give your computer a chance to clear out its cache and reconnect settings, wait at least 2 minutes before trying to access the Internet.
  3. Verify the modem lights are correct.
    When your modem is functioning properly, its lights should look like this:
    If your lights look at all odd, read What to do when your modem lights aren't the right color. If your modem lights are correct, but you still don't have a connection, read Unable to browse the Internet despite correct modem lights.

Improve a low-quality connection

If you can connect to the Internet, but the connection drops or is slow, consider these recommendations.

Connection drops

If you lose your Internet connection when you use your landline phone, you may have a problem with the way your phone and modem are setup. Your phone line carries two signals -- one voice and one data. In order for both to share the same line without interrupting each other, the equipment in your home has to be set up correctly. Read Using filters and How to properly connect a landline phone through the same wall phone jack as the modem to learn more. You might also look at What to do if your Internet connection drops frequently.

Slow connection

If think your Internet connection is slower than it should be, you can run a speed test to confirm your suspicions. Read How to troubleshoot a slow internet connection for step-by-step instructions.

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