How to install a computer modem

Updated: 07/13/2023 by Computer Hope
installing internal modem

There are three main modem types. Dial-up, DSL (digital subscriber line), and Cable modem. The following tips help you purchase and install a computer modem.

Buying tips and help

Before getting started

  1. Write down important information from the top or bottom of the card, such as the Model Number, Serial Number, and specifications.
  2. Ensure you are familiar with ESD (electrostatic discharge) and its potential dangers.
  3. When physically installing the modem, ensure the computer is powered down and unplugged.

Set jumpers

Today, most modems no longer require that jumpers be set. Most computer modems support plug and play, which automatically detects and configures hardware devices. If your modem has jumpers, ensure they are set properly. If the jumpers are supported by the hardware and your operating system, verify they are set to plug and play or software mode.

Install into expansion slot

Today, modem cards are cable of connecting into a PCI (peripheral component interconnect), AMR (audio/modem riser), or CNR (communication and network riser) slot. Locate an available slot in the computer and gently push the card into the slot until it snaps in place. Once the card is in the slot, screw the card into place.

Attach cables

Most computer modems will not have any additional cables used inside the computer. If your modem includes cables, it is likely the cables are used for outputting the sound to the speakers. This cable will connect to your sound card, motherboard (when onboard sound is present), or DVD decoder card.

BIOS setup

The modem utilizes a serial or COM interface and it is required that the interface be set up or enabled in BIOS setup. After the modem is installed, close the computer case. Reconnect the keyboard, monitor, and power cable. (We recommend you do not connect all the cables yet. If problems are experienced, you may have to disconnect all the cables again.) Turn the computer back on and as it begins booting, enter BIOS setup. Verify the serial interface (COM port) is enabled or set up on the port that you want the modem to use.

Software setup

Once the modem is installed and set up in BIOS, the drivers and any additional software must be installed for the modem to work properly.