Technology in terms you understand. Sign up for the Confident Computing newsletter for weekly solutions to make your life easier. Click here and get The Ask Leo! Guide to Staying Safe on the Internet — FREE Edition as my thank you for subscribing!

Is it safe to leave my modem on and connected all the time?

Should your modem stay on all the time? Is it safe from viruses
if left on?

Let’s be clear that we’re talking about dial-up modems. By definition
broadband modems are connected all the time.

In fact, if you think about it, a dialup modem that’s always connected is
pretty much just a really slow broadband modem.

Sort of.

Become a Patron of Ask Leo! and go ad-free!

I will clarify that by “on” you mean connected. It’s certainly ok to leave
your modem powered on at all times, whether or not you have dialed in. Dialing
in and connecting to the internet is where the issues are.

You can certainly can leave it connected all the time if your ISP is ok with
that. Many ISPs are not, and will drop the connection automatically after some
period of inactivity. There are tricks you can play, of course, but those may
well violate the terms of service with your ISP. So definitely check with them
before staying connected continuously.

If you do stay connected for long periods of time, you should start
thinking like a broadband user. That means taking all the precautions that a
broadband user would take, including a firewall of some sort. Normally those
steps aren’t as important for dialup users because the connections are
typically of a shorter duration. You’re never 100% safe, but shorter
connections mean fewer opportunities for infection and other problems.

So go ahead and connect, if you’re allowed, and simply take the extra
precautions of a firewall, and of course, up to date virus protection.

Do this

Subscribe to Confident Computing! Less frustration and more confidence, solutions, answers, and tips in your inbox every week.

I'll see you there!

3 comments on “Is it safe to leave my modem on and connected all the time?”

  1. One concern about leaving a modem “on” (vs. “connected”) that I would add is that, sometimes, a user has unknowlingly installed some dialer software which may dial a toll number during the middle of the night or anytime. So, take Leo’s advice about ensuring your virus protection is up-to-date very seriously.

  2. hey there guys.

    I was wondering, besides viruses, can you become infected with any type of tracking program if your modem is left connected and idle even with a firewall?

    I was once told that even with a firewall there are still a number of ports through your modem that items can bypass by disguising itself as recognisable software/scripting (namely Active X)

    What I mainly want to know is what other risks do I leave myself open to by not disconnecting my modem? OH yes, it’s a dsl modem, and my ISP here does allow continuous use.

    your advice and tips would be greatly appreciated.

    P.S. I ask this because my family can never seem to turn off/disconnect the modem when they are finnished using the computer. they shut the comuter down to standby, but I am still worried that something can happen.

    :) -dave

    Hash: SHA1

    So to be clear, the modem’s I’m talking about above are dial-up. It’s quite
    standard for DSL connections to be on 24/7.

    With a properly configured firewall (or in the case of broadband like DSL, a
    good NAT router), the only things that can enter your computer are things that
    your computer *asks* for. By that I mean that incomming connections are blocked
    by the firewall, but that doesn’t prevent malware on your computer from going
    out and downloading something on your behalf.

    That’s true no matter how you’re connected to the internet, or for how long.
    And it’s why it’s so incredibly important to prevent malware from infecting
    your machine by having anti-spyware and anti-virus software, and to not run
    attachments or other downloads you don’t trust.



    Version: GnuPG v1.4.7 (MingW32)



Leave a reply:

Before commenting please:

  • Read the article.
  • Comment on the article.
  • No personal information.
  • No spam.

Comments violating those rules will be removed. Comments that don't add value will be removed, including off-topic or content-free comments, or comments that look even a little bit like spam. All comments containing links and certain keywords will be moderated before publication.

I want comments to be valuable for everyone, including those who come later and take the time to read.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.