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[ The PC Guide | Troubleshooting and Repair Guide | The Troubleshooting Expert | Troubleshooting Specific Components | Troubleshooting Modems | Software Modem Issues ]

The system seems to slow down when using my WinModem or software modem

Explanation: You are using a "software modem" or "WinModem" device for communications, and you notice that the system becomes quite sluggish when the modem is in operation, especially when performing a great deal of file transfers.

Diagnosis: Software modems replace some of the circuitry on the modem with software programs and drivers that perform a similar function. This is done for the purpose of saving cost, since it removes some of the components from the actual modem itself. One big drawback with this design is that the main system processor is forced to perform these tasks that were formerly done with dedicated hardware on the modem. This causes the rest of the system to seem to slow down, as the software modem takes CPU cycles to do its work. With "real" modems so cheap today, it's hard to understand why people want to let their $2000 PC do this work, but there are a lot of them out there. Another problem with these devices is compatibility.

Recommendation:

  • Do not use one of these modems. Use a real modem that performs all of its features in hardware.
  • Accept that the system will be slower when using a modem of this sort. You could consider upgrading your system processor, but of course, upgrading your modem would be cheaper and easier in most cases.

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