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1. General questions and common problems with dialing up.

1.1 My modem is dialing just fine, but my computer says the login failed and to check my username and password.

Your username and password.

First and foremost the most common problem that users have with logging in is entering an invalid username and/or password. Your username and password are case sensitive! If you have even one character of the wrong case, your login will fail. Check your Caps Lock key!

Definition: your username is the part of your email address before the ``@'', so in your dialup settings do not put your full email address as the username. If your username is joe then enter just joe in the username field (for Windows users, that is in the Connect To window).

It's important to note that just because Windows says to check your username and password that you've entered, it doesn't always mean that you entered them incorrectly, since Windows dialup networking has a habit of outputting messages that have nothing to do with the real problem. However, it's sometimes correct, so you can't ignore it.

Spaces before or after your username and password.

We get A LOT of calls that after investigation turn out to be caused by having a space before or after the username or password. For example, sending a username like so (single quote included for clarity):

'username '
' username'

It's a space, so remember that even if you do not see it clearly, there may be one there!

Check your modem init string.

Many brands of modems are for sale out there, and generally most will do just fine with default settings. A lot of them, however, need some special initialization string to work correctly. There are so many types of modems, however, that you should consult the manual that came with your particular brand for tips on settings that may improve performance.

For most modems, ATZ4 or AT&F1 are the best settings.

If you own a US Robotics (or 3Com) Sportster modem, then try this string if you are experiencing problems:


Changing the init string.

If you use Windows, follow this procedure to change your modem's init string:

Double-click on ``My Computer'', double-click ``Dialup Networking.'' Find the icon for your connection to Coinet (if you used the CD, it will be named ``YOURUSERNAME'S Standard Coinet Config Account'', where YOURUSERNAME is your Coinet username). Right-click on that icon and choose ``Properties'' from the pop-up window. Next click on the ``Configure'' button below the listing for your modem. Click the ``Connection'' tab then click on the button labeled ``Advanced.'' You'll see a text area for ``Extra Settings.'' Enter the init string for the modem there. Make sure to keep clicking ``OK'' until you've exited the properties for the connection.

Disable software compression.

Many Windows users who are having problems logging in are able to do so after disabling software compression.

Here are the steps for Windows95 users:

  1. Double-click the ``My Computer'' icon.
  2. Double-click ``Dialup Networking.''
  3. Right-click on the Coinet icon and choose Properties.
  4. Press the ``Server Types'' button (later versions of Windows may have a tab of the same name in place of the button).
  5. Uncheck the box next to ``Enable Software Compression.''

Lower the modem connection speed.

Very often a user's hardware isn't able to handle the higher connection rates that new modems can deliver. Sometimes it's the phone line that can't handle it. Lowering the communication rate can help to mitigate problems with noisy phone lines.

Remove unnecessary network drivers.

Go to the Control Panel and double-click on the Network icon. There are only two drivers that you need to maintain a dialup Internet connection. Many Windows users have trouble logging into an Internet account with other extraneous drivers installed. Try removing everything there except:

All other drivers may be removed, unless you are also on a LAN or network that needs to have drivers installed!

Make sure you have the proper network drivers installed.

Windows95 users must have both TCP/IP and Dialup Adapter drivers installed to dial up to Coinet. If you purchased your computer with Win95 already installed, odds are you are set. However, if you upgraded from a previous version of Windows yourself, you may not have selected all the necessary components.

Remove third-party winsocks and networking files (such as AOL).

If you previously installed software for an online service such as AOL, then you may run into problems connecting to an Internet Service Provider.

Remove the AOL software and check the file

to make sure that it does not have
(or another version) in the PATH statement.

Do a search on your hard drive for all files which contain the string winsock and delete or rename them, except any residing in your windows directory!

If you wish to continue using your AOL account, then try just removing the PATH statement as mentioned above and do not delete all other winsock files.

Replace your cheap WINMODEM with a decent one.

What is a WinModem?

Software-based modems (they are often called ``Soft modems'') use fewer chips compared to traditional modems. The work normally done by the missing chips is transferred to software running on the host computer's main processor (the Pentium, PowerPC, etc.).

Modems consist of two major components:

A datampump performs the basic modulation/demodulation tasks for which modems are named. A controller provides the modem's identity: this is where the protocols for hardware error correction, hardware data compression, and basic modulation protocols (such as V.34, x2, K56flex, or V.90) exist. The controller is also what interprets AT commands.

A traditional modem implements both features in hardware, as chips inside the modem.

A controllerless modem, such as a winmodem, still has a hardware datapump, but implements the controller function as software.

Why winmodems sometimes don't work.

Winmodems are designed to to talk to other winmodems. Essentially, Windows to Windows gaming is your thing, have a blast! If you also want to get onto the Internet (which means connecting to a non-windows machine), use DOS applications, talk to Macintosh, OS/2 or UNIX boxes, sorry. Typical behavior is for the winmodems to work at first, perhaps one day, maybe six months then inexplicably fail. In most cases, DOS programmers do not support winmodems and many ISPs do not as well. The reason, support cannot be guaranteed for modems bound to fail.

How did I end up with a WinModem? I didn't ask for one.

Computer manufacturers and many local resellers will sell a new computer with a WinModem and not explain to the customer exactly what they are getting. The big reason is that they are cheap, which lowers the cost of the whole system. Many of our users who've had chronic connection difficulties have returned their computer and asked for a real modem (after our urging) and found their problem has suddenly vanished. Go figure!

One local reseller in particular likes to sell Cirrus WinModems, which seem to be particular bad in our experience and do not have a very good reputation.

If you are in the market to buy a new computer, we recommend avoiding these winmodem brands:

If you are going to get a winmodem, then try to get a Lucent-based LT winmodem or a 3Com/USR model.

For ideal performance, we recommend a 3Com/USR Sportster or Courier non-winmodem.

Updating winmodem drivers.

If you have a winmodem, as mentioned above it uses software drivers for some tasks. Updating those drivers can sometimes gain a tangible improvement in performance.

If you aren't very experienced with a computer, we recommend hiring a technician to do these upgrades for you. Call us and we can recommend someone. Below are links for various winmodem types.

Warning: We are not responsible for problems after doing a modem driver upgrade. If you are not experienced, we strongly recommend hiring a competent technician.

Lucent LT:

Rockwell HCF:


There is a lot of information about winmodems and 56K issues at

1.2 My modem is dialing and it's telling me ``The computer you are dialing into is not answering.''

This error message is very troubling to ISPs. The problem is that even if our terminal servers here are answering calls, Windows will spit out this message. Chances are you heard a modem answer your call, but nonetheless saw this message when your login failed.

The real error message should probably be ``Wasn't able to establish a carrier signal,'' or ``NO CARRIER.'' What that means is that your modem and the modem here at Coinet that you connected to weren't able to negotiate their connection properly, which is usually due to excessive line noise. If you keep trying, you will likely get connected. If it is chronic, you should call us.

1.3 I have everything setup I think, but my modem isn't even dialing!

If you have an external modem double-check that it is actually connected by a serial cable to your computer and to a line which leads to a phone jack.

Make sure that your modem settings specify the correct COM port that your modem is on (Windows). Windows 95 users need to look in the Control Panel. Windows 3.1 users go to File -> Setup in Trumpet, and look at ``SLIP Port.''

Make sure that you have no fax software running in the background. Check the ``System Tray'' in the lower-right corner of the Windows desktop for any programs that do fax receiving.

1.4 My modem has dialed up, and I see a window on my screen that says I'm connected.. but nothing is happening. Where's the Internet?

Surprise! You're already on the Internet.

Many new users are former online service customers (AOL, CompuServe, Prodigy, etc), and are confused when they login and don't see something flashy on their screen.

If your modem dials and your software says you're connected, you are indeed already on the Internet--it's simply a matter of using software that lets you connect to sites on the 'net, or to check your email, etc.

So if you are connected successfully, try opening your web browser or email software. Perhaps you already have a shortcut to your web browser on your desktop. If so, double-click it and see what happens!

1.5 I'm using Windows, and it takes Coinet 2 minutes to verify my username and password.

This is due to Windows being configured to think it is dialing into a system that uses proprietary Microsoft protocols. Our network is not Windows-based.

To fix this, double-click on ``My Computer,'' double-click ``Dialup Networking,'' then right-click on your Coinet icon and choose ``Properties.'' Next click on ``Server Types'' and make sure that ``Log on to Network'' is NOT checked.

1.6 I'm using Windows, and I can't save my password. The ``Save Password'' check box is greyed out.

Please see Microsoft's Knowledge Base article on this topic:

1.7 I'm using Windows, and even if I click on ``Save Password'' it isn't saved after a reboot.

Please see Microsoft's Knowledge Base article on this topic:

1.8 I use Windows, and when I open my web browser, it doesn't connect me to Coinet any longer.

This can start happening if you were online and the power to the computer was lost suddenly. Windows decides to forget that you need to be connected to your Internet account to browse the web.

This problem should be fixed by logging into your account and then logging out normally. If that doesn't fix it, you may need to login manually by opening the dialup networking connection yourself (My Computer->Dialup Networking->Coinet).

We get numerous calls about this after thunderstorms--which is why it's a good idea to shut down the computer for the duration of the storm, unless you have an Uninterruptable Power Supply (UPS)--and even then we would recommend unpowering your machine and unplugging it and your modem. This will also save you thousands of dollars in the event of a lightning strike nearby.

You may also want to right-click on the icon labeled ``The Internet'' on your desktop, then choose properties. Click the ``Connection'' tab and check the box next to ``Login to the Internet as needed.'' Choose the connection to Coinet from the drop-down list in the same window. If you don't have an icon named ``The Internet'' on your desktop try looking in the Control Panel.

1.9 After my modem dials, I hear a US West recording. I can't ever connect to Coinet.

You are almost certainly dialing our phone number prefixed with ``1-541.'' You can't dial a local number like a long-distance one. In the ``Connect To'' window, look closely at the number. If you see ``1-541'' or just ``541'' then the connection is misconfigured.

To fix this, click the ``Dial Properties'' button from the ``Connect To'' and find near the top of the window the text area asking for your area code. Make sure that 541 is entered as your area code. Click ``OK'' and the phone number should be fixed.

In addition, if you don't have call waiting on the line you are using to dial out, make sure you aren't dialing *70 before our phone number.

1.10 What's the best way to solve connection problems with Windows?

Quick answer: reboot the computer.

This solves the vast majority of problems with logging in, connecting to web sites, sending and receiving email, etc. This is due to bugs in the Windows networking code. In general, the longer the computer has been on, the less Windows behaves.

1.11 Something just isn't working right! Your guys' network must not be functioning.

Any unexpected down time will be explained on our web site or via a mail bulletin to all users. Though anything is possible, such down times are a very rare problem here at Coinet.

If you can get connected, go to the Coinet User's Services web pages at and check out the Network Status page. This shows the status of all major computers in our network.

1.12 I have this really fast modem. How come my connection speed is so low?

The biggest obstacle to overcome with dialup internet connections is the quality of the phone lines and telephone network. Many people in the area are blessed with relatively clean telephone connections. Some are not. It's important to note that even though you don't hear static when making voice calls, your line may still be ``noisy.''

When two modems are connected together (i.e. yours and one of ours), they keep a carrier signal going the entire time. That, along with the burden of any actual data passing back and forth, puts much more stress on a phone line then a normal voice call. A poor-quality line will cause disconnects and a slow baud rate.

Your modem and our modem will connect at the fastest speed allowable. If you connect at a slower speed, but usually attain higher, try hanging up and dialing again; every time you make a call it's routed a bit differently, so you may have better luck with the next call.

If, on the other hand, you consistantly connect at sub-optimal speeds, you may wish to call US West. They may brush you off since they only guarantee 9600 baud, but they also may be able to isolate where in your phone line the problem lies that is causing excessive noise.

See also the next section, especially if you consistantly see 26,400 baud connections with 56K, 33,600 or 28,800 baud modems.

1.13 Every time I login, I ALWAYS get 26,400 baud.

Sometimes phone companies will take shortcuts when adding new lines to an existing building or home (surprised?). What they will do is, instead of adding another line by running more copper, they will take an existing 56K-capable line and will use a pairgain box to split the bandwidth into two channels. Viola, you have two phone lines.

The result? The maximum speed you'll ever see on that line is 26,400 baud.

This is called ``MUXING.'' If you are having an additional phone line installed, ask US West to not MUX it. Perhaps they will comply--we're not certain if they will or not (your report to us on success/failure would be welcome). It's important to note that US West is perfectly within the law to MUX a phone line--the PUC hasn't forced them to not do that.

1.14 I have a 56K modem. How come I can only get 33,600 baud?

A 56K connection requires special digital modems at the ISP. In addition, the ISP-side of the phone lines are required to be all digital (the only analog portion allowed is between you and the phone company central office). Because of the very high cost of the equipment and lines, we have a special account type for 56K. If you wish to switch to 56K service, please give us a call.

1.15 I have a 56K modem and am dialing your 56K number, but I'm not getting anywhere close to the fastest speed of my modem.

In most areas, the maximum speed you'll get is between 44-49K. This is due to the general quality of the telephone network in central Oregon.

If you aren't getting faster than 33.6K, then you likely aren't making a successful V.90 connection to our equipment. Diagnosing 56K problems can be difficult, but try checking out for tips on your particular modem (if it's not a generic).

1.16 How do I change the phone number I'm dialing? Everytime I change it in the ``Connect To'' window it reverts to the old number.

You need to modify the properties of the connection. Double-click on ``My Computer'', then double-click on ``Dialup Networking.'' Find the icon for your connection to Coinet, right-click on it then choose ``Properties'' from the pop-up window. You'll see the phone number near the top of the properties window.

1.17 I'm getting disconnected a lot!

Most of the time we are told this, the only information provided is ``I'm getting disconnected a lot'', which really isn't too helpful.

The problem is there are quite a few reasons two modems will disconnect. The number one reason of all time is noise in the phone line. Don't hear any noise? That doesn't mean anything, unfortunately, since voice calls may sound clear enough but data calls, where the line is being stressed more, can be severely degraded due to chronic noise or bursts of noise in the line. All analog phone lines have ``noise'' which isn't neccessarily audible sound, it's just that some people are unlucky and end up with more noise than is normal.

If you live in a location outside of Bend, line noise is almost always the culprit due to the poor quality of lines US West maintains here in Central Oregon.

The cause of frequent disconnection can also often be traced to the modem being used; as mentioned above some modems just don't cut it.

The two best ways to mitigate disconnections are to lower the speed you connect at and to find a better init string for your modem.

See Winmodems and Modem Init Strings. Also try taking a look at our 56K page at and see if your modem is present in the list of manufacturers' web sites. You may find information on upgrades or settings in their support area for your particular brand of modem that may help.

If all else fails, you should call and speak to a technician since there are so many things that can cause disconnects.

A note about Priority and Value Accounts with regard to disconnects:

Sometimes a priority account customer will call and say they are getting ``bumped'' regularly. We DO NOT disconnect priority accounts except under one condition: you have been online but idle for more than 30 minutes during peak hours. ``Idle'' means there has been no traffic over your modem to our terminal server for at least 30 minutes. ``Idle'' does not mean you haven't been typing on your keyboard or moving the mouse. We have no way of knowing that you are really in front of the computer, only if there has been traffic over your modem.

If you have a priority account and are being disconnected chronically, then you have a technical support issue that you need to call and get assistance with.

If you have a value or budget account and are logging in during the evenings and have complaints about being disconnected, there isn't much we can do since that is the very nature of value accounts. You may certainly be disconnected during peak hours if certain conditions are met. You may call us, if you wish, and confirm that the reason for your disconnects were indeed due to system load. See for a description of the accounts and how you can tell yourself if you are being rejected due to system load.

If you have a value account and experience chronic disconnects during non-peak hours (daytime), then you have a technical support issue that you need to call and get assistance with.

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