How to Install a Motorola Surfboard Cable Modem Without the CD-ROM

By Dan Stone

Updated February 10, 2017

Motorola Surfboard cable modems connected via Ethernet don't need special computer software.
i Hemera Technologies/ Images

There are two ways to install a Motorola Surfboard Cable modem without the CD-ROM: connect it through an Ethernet jack or download and install the modem's USB software from Motorola's site. Cable modems are self-contained units and run their operations through firmware on the device itself. The device runs in a self-contained state so that it can share a connection with multiple devices through a router instead of just connecting to a single computer.

Ethernet Setup

You can get around running the installation software from the CD-ROM by skipping over the need to use the software all together. Simply screw the coaxial cable with the incoming Internet connection into the coaxial port on the back of the modem. Plug one end of an Ethernet cable into the Ethernet port on the modem and the other end into the Ethernet port on the computer and call the Internet service provider to activate the modem. Windows includes basic Ethernet drivers that work with any Ethernet device, so as long as the computer has an Ethernet port it doesn't need to use the software for the modem to work. The cable modem can directly interface with a computer or a router using only the firmware already installed on the modem. If you use a router, set the router up according to the manufacturer's instructions and instead of plugging the Ethernet cable from the modem into the computer, connect it to the Internet port on the router, and then run an Ethernet cable between the router's Ethernet port and the computer's Ethernet port.


Modem drivers are necessary only when you're connecting the Surfboard directly to a single computer via a USB connection. Unlike with Ethernet connections, a Windows PC doesn't have native capabilities to interface with a cable modem over USB. The software must be installed via CD-ROM or downloaded installer package. Each modem model uses its own unique software for each version of Windows from Windows 98 through Windows 7. Motorola doesn't support drivers for Windows 8 or later computers running Surfboard cable modems via USB. Additionally, Linux and Mac computers must use the Ethernet connection to work with the modem.

USB Drivers Download

If you don't have a CD-ROM drive on the computer or have misplaced the CD-ROM, you can download the drivers from Motorola's support site and install them directly from the computer. However, downloading the drivers from Motorola's site can be tricky if you need the modem you're trying to set up to connect to the Internet. If possible, you can preemptively handle this problem by making a backup of the modem's USB drivers on a CD-R or USB flash drive. Otherwise, you can download the drivers on another Internet connection or computer and transfer them to the computer with the Surfboard modem or connect the computer to the modem via Ethernet to download the drivers. Any new computer comes with an Ethernet port.

USB Installation Process

The USB Installation process is a bit different than the Ethernet installation process where you plug in the modem and wait for it to connect itself. When installing a cable modem via USB, turn on the computer, connect the power cable to the outlet, connect the power cable to the modem, connect the coaxial cable to the modem, connect the coaxial cable to the wall outlet, connect one end of the USB cable to the modem, connect the other end of the USB cable to the computer and run the Surfboard installer software.