If you have ever opened up the cabinet on one of your desk top computers, you have realized that most of the inside of the box is open space with cables and wires running around from the motherboard to various boards and drives. Replacing many of the parts in the computer is not hard, it just takes the nerve to open the cabinet and get started. Modems can often fail requiring work to be done to your computer’s insides. Repair shops will frequently charge a hefty service fee anytime that they have to go inside your computer to work. Replacing a modem is one of the easier jobs to do yourself. I have installed over 25 modems into my own computers, as well as, having installed them for employers and friends. With this experience, I believe that this guide should keep you on track until your new modem is installed and functioning correctly.
Read over the instructions that come with the new modem just to make sure that it does not have any quirks that may not be covered by this article. You also will want to make sure that you buy the right piece of equipment. If you buy new at a store or computer shop, it is a pretty safe bet that you have the right type of modem if your computer is less than 10 years-old.
The installation usually begins by using the install disk that comes with the modem. You should always install the software before the hardware on your computer. You have to do it this way because the operating system will look for new hardware as part of the start up process. When it finds new hardware, it will search for the proper driver to install the equipment correctly into your operating system. By installing the drivers first, your computer is ready to use your modem as soon as it detects it.
After the drivers are installed, you will need to power off your computer. When it is off, unplug it. You need to disconect all of the wiring going into the back of the cabinet. If you are unfamiliar with the way to hook everything up, make a drawing of the back of your computer and list where each wire is to plug into the computer before you unplug the wire. This way, you will be able to put everything back where it belongs when you are finished. The cabinet should be free to take to a work area for installing the modem.
As a novice, you will need to take some precautions to keep from shorting out any of the boards inside your computer or the new modem you are preparing to install. One easy way to do this is to get a wrist band that is designed with a ground wire to shunt any excess static electricity from your body and away from the delicate computer components. At the very least, you need to have some way to touch something that will discharge in static before you handle the circuit boards. Once the computer has been unplugged for about 10 minutes, it is safe to open the cabinet. This can be a little tricky on some computers, but most of the time you just need to locate the screws that hold the pieces of the box together. Remove the screws. You should be able to slide the outside of the cabinet off of the base. Sometimes, the front of the computer has to be snapped off to get to the front screws. Do this carefully so that you do not break anything.
After the cabinet is removed, you need to stare at the inside of the computer for a minute or two to be used to what you can see. Take time to identify the major components. In one corner of the cabinet, you will see a square box with wires coming out. This should be the power supply. Wide flat cables will run from the motherboard to the various drives inside the computer. On another area of the motherboard, you will see one or more small boards standing perpendicular to the motherboard and plugging into it. The modem will be the one of these boards that has female telephone or network cable connectors built into it that face the outside of the back of the computer.
Using the correct type of screw or nut driver, remove the screw in the shiny plate at the end of the modem that has the network or phone ports. There should only be one screw. Take care not to drop it down under the motherboard. When the screw is out, carefully but firmly grip the top edge of the old modem and pull it up and out. It will unplug from the slot on the motherboard and slip out of the slot in the cabinet. Compare the lower edge with the connectors that go into the motherboard with the new modem just to be sure that you have the right type. This will almost never be a problem.
Lay the old modem aside. Taking the new modem, align the lower edge with the slot in the motherboard. Once again, firmly but carefully plug the board into the motherboard. If there are other wires which is really unlikely, plug them up the way the you disconnected the old ones. The connector to the cabinet has a tab that needs to slide into a slot at the bottom of the groove where the modem goes. This should leave the openings for the screw aligned so you can replace it. If the holes do not match, check that you have correctly inserted the modem. When it is in right, everything should match. Replace the screw.
Slide the outside of the cabinet back into place. Screw or snap everything back into place. Attach all of the cables from the monitor, network, telephone, speakers, printer, etc. Plug the computer back into the electric and turn it on. It should prompt you about installing the modem driver as it boots up. Follow the prompts until it is finished installing. You are ready to test your new modem. It should work like a champ.