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[ The PC Guide | Troubleshooting and Repair Guide | The Troubleshooting Expert | Troubleshooting Specific Components | Troubleshooting Modems | Errors and Download Problems ]

I am experiencing pausing behavior when using my modem. Data transfers seem to stop for several seconds and then resume, either consistently or intermittently

Explanation: You are not having any problem establishing connections to your remote server, but while performing downloads you notice that the connection seems to "pause". You do not get disconnected but there is no data transfer for a few seconds. Then the transfer resumes, only to pause again later on.

Diagnosis: I have found that the most common cause of this problem is a temporary interruption of the line. The same sorts of things that cause a connection to be dropped completely, will sometimes cause the connection to be interrupted. For example, a call coming through on call waiting or someone picking up the phone will interrupt your connection, but if your modem is able to recover from it then this will appear as a pause of several seconds' delay instead of the call being cut off. There are several other possible causes of this problem as well.


  • Try a different host or dialup line, if possible, to eliminate the possibility of the remote host being the cause of the problem. It is quite common to see pauses on downloads when retrieving a file from a very busy host, or if there is more net traffic on your service provider's network than they can handle cleanly. Trying a download from the same host to more than one PC will similarly help isolate the problem to one end or the other in most cases.
  • The problem could be due to the particular software package that you are using to perform the download. You may want to try using a different application to see if it works better.
  • Any of the causes listed in this section describing common causes of phone line interruptions or disconnections could be to blame. Chief among these are call waiting interference, line noise, or an extension handset being picked up. You will typically only see these sorts of causes being responsible if the problem is fairly infrequent. If the pausing is every few seconds, it's more likely something else at fault.
  • You may have a bad serial port on the system. If possible, try the modem on a different PC and see if the problem goes away.
  • The modem may be bad. Double-check its configuration first, then if you can, try swapping another modem into the PC and see if the problem clears up.

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