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Turning off a modem can actually clear up connection problems. However, you may want to explore some other methods for dealing with a sluggish system.

My question relates to a broadband modem. I have a Thompson TG 5800 on a 580 modem supplied by my internet provider. I've noticed that my connection over time starts to slow down. I was advised to switch off the modem for about 30 minutes and then check the speeds after reconnecting. I've done this and found my speeds did increase to a satisfactory level. The question is: does switching off a modem cause any problems in particular? I'll be on holiday for two weeks in May and I'm considering switching it off for two weeks. Would there be any harm done to the modem?

In this excerpt from Answercast #16, I look at turning off a modem for a week and express some concern about the overall sluggishness of an internet connection.

Will shutting down cause problems?

No. Turn it off.

Especially if you're going to be gone for two weeks. There's simply no reason to leave it running if nobody's going to be using it.

I'm a little concerned about the overall sluggishness that you started with.

Computer sluggishness

While the modem certainly can be the problem, if the problem reoccurs, say within a few hours, or a day or two of starting to use that modem again, I would start to look at software issues. Perhaps even malware on your machine is using your internet connection in ways that you're unaware of.

I do know that over time (and by time I mean, like, months) modems and routers (and any kind of semi-intelligent device that's keeping track of the connections you make in and out on the internet) can all use a good reboot. It's just the way these devices work.

They work hard keeping track of everything, but over several months, things may have become so complex that it takes additional time for them to keep track. A reboot resets everything and allows it to start fresh.

Reboot first...

So, I would definitely take a look at rebooting it. If the problem comes back quickly, then I would start to suspect some software related issues.

And, no. I'd have absolutely no problems turning that device off for your two week vacation.

Have a good time!

Article C5326 - May 10, 2012 « »

Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?

Lynn Houston
May 11, 2012 11:01 AM

Good to know about the modem and router needing a reboot (since I doubt either of mine has been off in the over 3 yrs since installed), but one question... not recently, but in the past and probably with a previous routers and/or modems, I've pushed the reset button and it seemed that each time I did that, I had to go back online and reset so that the network was protected. Is this normal/standard and is there a way to change the default so that if I do need to reset the router that the default is, protected?

Depends on the device. Most remember your settings and only revert if you use the reset-to-factory-setting process, which is usually a multi-second hold on the reset button.
May 11, 2012 2:06 PM

I turn off my modem and router, printer, etc every night with them all running on one power/surge block, one button, simple. I have done this for at least 10 years. Never have had a problem of any kind. I just turn it all back on in the morning when I power up[ the computer for the day. Certainly no need to be burning all that juice for no reason all night. It all adds up $$$.

May 18, 2012 9:37 AM

Leo, rather than turn off the modem, can I safely disconnect and re-connect to the internet by disabling and enabling the Local Area Connection (located under Control Panel - Network Connections in XP)? Is it potentially harmful to the PC to turn on and off the Local Area Connection in this way if I do it very, VERY often each day (to reduce my exposure to malware attacks by reducing the length of time I’m connected to the internet)? I do turn off the modem and the PC, but only once at the end of the day to reset. Thanks…

No harm. A bit cumbersome, but it works.
October 26, 2012 4:27 PM

I also switch my router off nightly ..also on a power board.
Most folk get malware by inadvertently downloading programs which also come bundled with malware.
Constantly disconnecting from the internet seems a needless amount of work for almost little gain, except a psychological satisfaction ..which is also important .

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