Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

It's typically not necessary, or even desirable, to disconnect your modem when not in use, but there are steps you should take to stay safe.

Should I physically disconnect my modem cable when I'm not on my computer? Can hackers access my computer when it's not turned on, but the modem cable is still attached?

The short answer is no, you do not need to disconnect your modem cable.

But the longer answer is that you do need to make sure you have a certain amount of security in place.

One scenario is easy: if your computer is turned off, you're safe. No hacker is going to be able to access it - unless they walk in the room and turn it on, of course.

The more common scenario, though, is that not using your computer isn't always the same as not turning it off. Many people, myself included, leave their computers on for extended periods of time. You may not be "on your computer", but your computer is on. And that requires some security.

Yep, one brute-force approach to security would be to disconnect or turn off your modem if you're going to leave your computer on. I don't recommend it, as it's likely to cause more connection and reconnection issues than it'll solve. Yes, I know it's supposed to work transparently, but my experience is simply that things get confused when modems and internet connections come and go frequently. Besides, it's not really necessary.

"Once you have a firewall of some sort in place, you can feel safe leaving your computer and modem on all the time."

If you're on dial-up you're already pretty safe, but you should turn on the Windows firewall. That will provide an important layer of protection against hackers while you're connected. If you're not dialed-in and connected there's no way for hackers to access your computer.

If you're on broadband - by definition an "always on" connection - then my recommendation is that you get a router and install that between your computer and your modem. Not only will it allow you to add more computers to your internet connection later, but the router provides an extremely effective firewall against outside intrusions.

Once you have a firewall of some sort in place, you can feel safe leaving your computer and modem on all the time.

As I do.

Article C3261 - January 8, 2008 « »

Share this article with your friends:

Share this article on Facebook Tweet this article Email a link to this article
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?

3 Comments
Chris
January 12, 2008 3:14 AM

I have a High Speed Connection Manager set up on my computer. When I'm not using my connection I simply disconnect; very much like a dial up connection.

George Butler
January 12, 2008 7:09 AM

One matter that you did not mention: While I have never had this problem, I have a friend whose computer, router and broadband modem have been vaporized by a lightning strike on the phone line. I do disconnect my phone line from the router before leaving the computer every night. I have never had a problem doing this. In my opinion, there are 2 possible sources of phone line disasters: Lightning, and accidents that bring down power and phone lines with posible rogue currents entering the phone grid.

J Gebhardt
January 4, 2010 6:33 AM

I'd like to do what Chris does with High Speed Connection Manager "I have a High Speed Connection Manager set up on my computer. When I'm not using my connection I simply disconnect; very much like a dial up connection.

Posted by: Chris at January 12, 2008 3:14 AM". The problem is I can't find "High Speed Connection Manager" using an Internet search. Where does this program exist?

Comments on this entry are closed.

If you have a question, start by using the search box up at the top of the page - there's a very good chance that your question has already been answered on Ask Leo!.

If you don't find your answer, head out to http://askleo.com/ask to ask your question.