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My dell Inspiron laptop modem is not working. The Dell modem helper says that it is already in use and has a port confilct. When i go to the device manager there is not even a catagory listed for "ports". Under the modem properties is says that it connected to com 3.

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that's a virtual COM port, not a real one. – Molly7244 Feb 13 '10 at 0:29

As Molly said in comments, the actual port is a virtual one.

Modems should be listed under the modem section, however, I think I may know what is going on here.

A few years ago, the number one malware/scam for a period of time were malicious dialers which would call up premium rate phone numbers. To stop this, many Internet service providers (and a few security suites) introduced "Modem Blocker" applications that would basically hog your modem port and not let anything dial - which for 99% of people is fine as usually (but not always) people use either ethernet or wireless.

Look through your security software and ISP utilities for anything that sounds similar, I remember spending a few hours trying to figure this out before I realised what was happening - For me, I found it using Microsoft / Sysinternals Autoruns - a program called lockmodem.exe (I think) by BT Internet.

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wow, I had no idea. Sometimes the PC ecosystem scares me a little. – Jeff Atwood Dec 3 '10 at 8:12
    
@Jeff Atwood - Did this scam never hit the US? In England, it was pretty big, so many people got ripped off by their machine dialing premium rate phone numbers - it only really dropped off when desktops stopped having modem cards with them... (People used to use even if they didn't need!) – William Hilsum Dec 3 '10 at 13:42

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