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56 K Troubleshooting

Chebucto Plus 56 K graphical PPP access uses all new digital phone lines and equipment on Chebucto's side. However, connection speeds will vary a lot depending on many things; condition of phone lines, line noise, distance from the telephone company central office, and quality of home wiring. In your computer, the make and model of your modem and how it is set up can also play important roles in how good a connection you get. Lastly, your own software can be causing you grief. Connection speeds ranging from 45 K to 50 K should be considered typical real world figures.

Phone Lines
A noisy phone line can cause slow connection speeds, random disconnections and slow downloads. If your line has a lot of line noise - pops, hissing or crackles - then you will likely not be able to make a good connection. You will need to contact your telephone company for help. This also applies to phone lines which get noisy during bad weather.

Once inside the house, the quality of the phone connection to your wall telephone jack and from the wall jack to your computer will also affect connections. It is not a good idea to have too long a run of phone cord from your wall jack to your computer; the longer the cord the more likely problems can occur. If you are experiencing problems it is a good idea to try the computer on a different wall jack or a different phone line entirely to try to rule out phone lines as a culprit.

Modem updates
If your phone lines check out then it's time to look at your modem. This section is written with PC computers running Windows 95 or newer in mind. Macintosh and Windows 3.1/3.11 information is elsewhere on this website.

While all modems should be able to connect to the service (each at their own best speed), some older modems, particularly older 56 K modems, may need software updates to function properly.

Most software updates come in the form of driver updates which can usually be found at the modem manufacturer's website. If your computer was built by a major manufacturer like Dell, IBM, or Compaq, you should check the computer manufacturer site first as they often have specific driver updates designed for each model of computer they make.

If your computer was not built by one of the big PC manufacturers, you may need some detective work to figure out what make and model your modem is. On computers running Windows 95 or newer, there are two places to look. In the Windows Control Panel (Start button then Settings then Control Panel), double click on System. Select Device Manager then click on the plus sign (+) next to Modem and it should open up and say what modem you have. If it says "Standard modem" then you do not have any manufacturer drivers installed.

You can also get clues from double clicking on Modems under Control Panel. There will be a Query modem button that you can press that should talk to the modem and get a response from it. On Windows 95/98/ME, this is found under the Diagnostics tab. Select the COM Port your modem is on then press More Info. In Windows XP it is under Modems then Properties then Diagnostics. Some modems will identify themselves this way and some will not.

Lastly, You can power down your computer and unplug it then open the cover of your computer and physically look at the modem for a manufacturer and/or a model number. Do not do this unless you have some idea of what you are doing inside the computer. Computer components are susceptible to static discharge, for example, and a tiny static electricity spark can kill a sensitive electronic component.

Once you have a manufacturer and a model for the modem you can start to search the Internet for new modem drivers. It is best to get new drivers from the maker of the modem, but sometimes this is not possible. In some cases the maker of chips used on the modem will issue a "generic" driver for the chips. These are not usually recommended but can be better than nothing if there are no other alternatives.

Installing a driver is usually a case of running a .EXE file but sometimes it will mean unzipping the contents of a file to a new directory on your computer then installing from it. You can update drivers using Windows Device Manager. Select Modem, then your modem then Driver then Update driver and direct it to the directory where you unzipped the new files. It is always a good idea to reboot after installing new drivers.

If all this fails, it is possible you may just need to get a new modem. When shopping for a modem, always go for a "hardware" modem. "Winmodems" and "software" modems are usually priced cheaper because they are made cheaper and can be less reliable.

Software problems
In some cases of connection problems, it may not be the fault of the phone lines or the modem, but a problem with software. Users who have connections with "free" internet providers who use special connection software to track your usage, etc. may find this software interferes with using a regular dialup internet connection and must be uninstalled. Other connection problems can come from misconfigured software - for example, a mail program which has been set to check mail every five minutes and also to disconnect after checking mail.

If too many programs are running on your computer at once, this can also interfere with your connections. A fix for this in Windows 98 and newer is to use MSCONFIG. Go to Start then Run and type msconfig then hit OK. Select Startup then uncheck any programs you don't want running automatically. When you restart your computer you may find it running faster again. Running defrag regularly is also a good idea; it can be found under System Tools in Accessories.

Software updates
If you are running Windows 95 or 98/98SE, you should be sure you are using the latest update to Dial Up Networking, version 1.4. You can download this from Microsoft here (If this page location changes, go to the main Microsoft site then Search for Dial Up Networking 1.4 download). Users of Windows 98 and newer can download Operating System updates from the Windows Update website. There are several Critical Updates available for all versions of Windows.










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