Are you comfortable with the performance of your Wi-Fi connections these days? Or have you seen a significant drop in the performance of your Wi-Fi and the wired devices? Or maybe you have seen an advert for a faster, better router. A router lasts for 3 to 5 years before technology changes, wear and tear, and other factors make it go bad. Therefore, you can expect to change your router at least on average every 5 years.
In this world, one of the most frustrating times is when you have a poor connection. At that time, your mind is fixated on watching a particular video or gaming, and then your internet lets you down.
Since the router is one of the essential devices in internet connection, even though unrecognized, it’s important to know when it needs replacement.
Several factors determine the average life span of a router. We can have a measure of control over some factors. For other elements, we do not have any control over them. However, in general, taking good care of your router is paramount in it achieving its life span.
If a router is well taken care of, thus preventing any mechanical damage, it may last for several years while giving you a satisfactory performance.
One of the reasons is because we do not move the routers frequently; neither do they contain any moving parts. One of the reasons people feel the need to replace a router is the change in the router’s features.
We will explore in this article how long do wireless routers last and when to change your router. Let’s delve in!
Factors that determine how long wireless routers last
Several factors determine how long a router will last. The factors determine if your ‘router will go bad‘. Besides, you may decide to change your router for one of the reasons that we will discuss below.
Overheating is one of the main reasons why a router will not last. This is because overheating destroys the internal components of a router.
The problem of overheating happens with all routers with time but is more common in the low-budget routers, which do not have advanced cooling systems. Furthermore, overheating may be caused by the poor positioning of the router.
A poorly positioned router will not get a good flow of air, thus making heat accumulate in the router. Therefore, it is vital to consider the positioning as you install your router since we don’t move the router very often.
Overheating with time will reduce the performance of your router. It accounts for a considerable percentage of router problems, such as slow performance and intermittent outages.
For this problem, you can decide to point a fan towards the router or move it to a place where there is a smooth flow of air.
Even though we said that the router does not have moving parts, it is subject to the normal wear and tear of all products. A router’s processor or other components will get worn out with time.
The hardware problem may be a result of overheating or other standard wear and tear processes.
Overclocking, one of the features of DD-WRT routers increases router hardware problems.
Brand of the router
The router technology is like every other technology available in the world today. Some brands make routers of the highest quality that last for long. Other router manufacturers make routers that do not last for long.
The quality of the router not only determines the router’s life span but also determines the performance of the router. We, therefore, recommend that as you are buying a router, consider getting a high-quality one.
Router technology advancements
Over time, we have seen changes in router technology. These advances have almost rendered the older routers obsolete.
One of the reasons for this is because the devices that use Wi-Fi and Ethernet connections in our homes and offices also move with time. The current Wi-Fi standard is Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax), and all the manufacturers make future devices that benefit from the performance prescribed for these router specifications.
Therefore, since the router manufacturers are also moving with the times, older routers tend to lack firmware updates and support.
Usage of the router
There are many different functionalities of different routers. If you continuously use your router to the maximum, it means that it won’t last for very long.
Overusing the router also leads to overheating, which is one of the leading causes of reduced router lifespan.
Therefore, we recommend using the router for its capacity level. You can check the router capacity by reading the manufacturer’s manual for your router.
The location where the router is installed
Some of the other significant causes of router problems are dust accumulation, moisture, and being knocked over by people or pets. You can prevent the effects of these three causes of reduced router life span by being strategic in positioning the router.
Consequently, we recommend that you install a router in a position that will cover your whole home with the internet. Besides this, you should also install it in a place where there will be no dust accumulation, where the router will not become wet, and even away from human and pet traffic.
The installation place should also enable optimal ventilation to prevent overheating of your router.
Maintenance of the router
A router being a machine needs frequent maintenance. The maintenance, which can be done by a qualified IT professional or by following the manual, ensures the router achieves its life span.
Maintenance helps to clear dust accumulation and do routine checks like whether the router is overheating and also working properly. You can also check if the router has any functional complications.
Having routine maintenance on your router enables it to perform to the best and improve longevity.
Signs that your router is going bad
There are several signs of a damaged router that you can check for your network. The main ones include:
Poor internet connectivity
When you get poor connectivity in a place where you had no connection problems, then this may indicate that you have a damaged router. A lack of firmware updates may also cause the reduced connectivity capability of your router.
To know the cause of your internet connectivity problems, you need to update the firmware to ensure your router can keep up with the current technology. If your connectivity problems persist after the firmware update, you might be dealing with a damaged router.
You should also ensure that there are no devices that use a lot of internet connectivity that is in use in your network. Besides, also move the devices near the router to rule out all the causes of poor connectivity.
A loss of power
Your router may start getting power losses or you may have struggles in powering the router on. This means that either the cables for the power supply are not functioning or there is a problem with the power unit on your modem.
If the cable is not loose and you have no problem with the power supply then you need to consider that your router is damaged.
Getting frequent random reboots
When your router is “going bad” you will experience frequent restarts. With all the smart devices plus functions in our homes, frequent router reboots can be a major cause of discomfort.
A router that keeps on rebooting means your router is damaged and may need replacing.
Decreased functionality of your router
You already know the functionalities and performance of your router. In case of a damaged router, or one on the road to being damaged, there is decreased functionality.
These performance indicators may include reduced Wi-Fi speeds, reduced network coverage, and failure to connect correctly to devices among others.
If you experience any of these reduced functionality features, you may deduce that your router has outlived its usefulness.
How to increase the life span of a router
Several tips can be applied to make your router last longer. Most of these actions are easy to implement and have assured results. Since we have learned what damages the router, we can explore the tips to prevent them.
Some of the tips include:
Do not overwork the router:
As discussed, each router has its own capacity. We recommend that you follow the specified capacity to ensure that your router lasts for long.
In case you need more capacity, we recommend that you get a router with a better capacity. The best routers for home and office will help take care of this challenge.
Be strategic in the installation location
As we have discussed in the causes of router damage, positioning the router in the wrong place reduces its life span. Therefore, try installing the router in a place with the following:
- Free flow of air to ensure that the router does not overheat.
- Away from places where people and pets move a lot.
- Out of the reach of children.
- In a place that is not wet or dusty
Positioning your router in a location specified by the criteria above will ensure that your router will last for long.
Reboot the router occasionally
Every machine or even body part requires some rest other than the heart. Rebooting a router helps to solve some of the occasional router problems.
Rebooting the router helps to clear the data cache and also prevents overheating. Turning the device on and off is a standard routine for all machines.
Clean and service the router occasionally
The router can get an accumulation of dust which can interfere with its functioning. Occasional dusting and cleaning of the router can help in ensuring the router lasts for long. Kindly follow the router manual for the cleaning procedure.
Besides, using a qualified IT professional to clean or service the router can help to increase the life span of the router.
Update the router’s firmware often
Most of the router manufacturers update the firmware often. This is to reduce the instances of infestation with viruses, improve the performance, and remove security flaws.
If the firmware is not updated, you may get a reduced lifespan of the router. This is because viruses and malware can cause overheating or overwork your router.
Therefore, we recommend that you update the router’s firmware manually or automatically.
Router Lifespan FAQs
Considering the current technological changes and the wear and tear, a router lasts for Five (5) years approximately. However, we recommend changing the router every three to five years to take advantage of the new technologies in addition to the wear and tear.
A router should be replaced every three (3) to five (5) years. This will ensure that you get a router that has the current technology, security features, and also to replace a router before the normal wear and tear renders it unusable. The technology includes the processor, WiFi standards, Ethernet ports, antennas, and firmware among others.
Yes, routers do wear out. The main reason for the wear and tear is heat stress and continuous use. The heat stress is due to the clogging of the vents on your router or the failure of the fan. In addition, if you position the router poorly (poorly aerated areas) it is bound to experience overheating. In most cases, a router remains plugged in for as long as there is power in the house or office. Since the router is a machine, you expect the parts to wear and tear when used continuously for so long.
Your router may be dying if you notice constant drops in connection, a marked reduction in internet speed, or poor connection to devices without any interference. Therefore, you need to move the devices closer to the router to understand if the constant drops in connection are due to interference or your router dying.
A router is a long-term investment. Thus, a router should last for long if it is well taken care of.
You can strive to replace your router every three to five years. The router will however last for this long if you ensure your router is installed in the right position and well taken care of.