Making your modem release a failed connection

Question: I am having problems with my phone modem. Sometimes when I attempt to connect to my Internet service provider, all of the available lines are in use and I get a busy signal. The problem occurs when I try again later. My modem does not reset from the initial attempt to connect. I get a message that tells me something like my modem is “already in use and is unavailable”. I know my phone line is free because I have a dial tone when I pick up the phone. The only solution that I can figure to reset the modem is to restart Windows 95. This is a major pain, especially if I have to try several times before I can get an available line. I am using Windows 95 and Internet Explorer 4.0 to connect to the Internet. I have had this problem for quite some time and I am at wit’s end. — R.S.

Answer: There are a couple of things you can try there in Wit’s End, Canada, which seems to be where lots of TechnologyTips readers live, for some reason.

First, if your modem is an external unit, simply power it down and then back on again. If the modem is internal, then this isn’t possible.

The other solution is software-based and more a preventive measure. Go into the Modems section of your Control Panel (under Settings on the Start menu) and, under the Connection tab, select the modem you use and then click Properties. There you’ll find a box that you can select that says: “Disconnect a call if idle more than …” Check that box and type in a number of minutes in a field to the right of this phrase. The computer will automatically reset your modem if no data comes into the modem port in the amount of time that you specify.

This feature is also useful to eliminate wasted online time. It will disconnect you from your ISP in the event that you leave the computer on and forget about it.