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A wireless router, also called a wireless local area network device or Wi-Fi router, connects your devices to the internet or other local networks. It can also work as a firewall to filter and control your incoming and outgoing network traffic. That being said, how often should you replace your wireless router?

You should replace your wireless router whenever it breaks down, or when its technology becomes obsolete. Usually, wireless routers last up to five years before they break down. However, with the proper use and maintenance, it can serve you longer as long as the technology doesn’t become obsolete.

wireless router

While you should use and maintain your wireless router well if you want to avoid frequent replacements, only a premium-range router can meet your internet needs. Read below what makes your wireless router wear out and when it is due for a replacement.

Do Wireless Routers Wear Out?

Wireless routers, just like any other consumer-grade device, wear out. Mostly, wireless routers wear out from the heat of the stress they go through. They generate heat as they connect many devices to the internet.

If the vents are clogged, and the heat has nowhere to escape through, your wireless router starts to misbehave. Also, small vents make it difficult for heat to escape, thereby damaging your wireless router. I would recommend that you get a wireless router with bigger vents.

Besides the heat they generate internally, long-term exposure to external heat makes your wireless routers wear out. For instance, if you place your wireless router near the window, the heat from the sunlight adds to the one it generates internally. Since your wireless router has many wires inside, the excessive heat can cause them to melt.

Dust and inadequate airflow are also other reasons why wireless routers wear out. If you place your router on the floor, much dust will enter it and over time it’ll clog the vents through which heat escapes.

It would help if you didn’t jam your wireless router into a space with no airflow. As much as you should keep it from the sun and dust, it needs adequate airflow to function correctly. However, don’t expose it to high-powered airflow as that could damage the internal fan.

How Do You Know When You Need a New Wireless Router?

If your wireless router isn’t in good condition, your devices won’t connect to the internet or other local networks. Even though a wireless router can last for many years, it eventually wears down. You need to keep tabs on its performance to know when it’s time for a replacement.

If you experience slow internet speed a lot, it could be a sign that you need a new router. However, not every scenario where you experience long buffering periods indicates that your router is wearing out. Slow internet speed can be caused by reduced bandwidth or increased network traffic too.

Before you conclude that your router’s slow internet speed is a sign that you need a new router, connect the modem directly to the computer first. If the network improves, that means your wireless router is faulty. If it doesn’t, that means the problem is with your internet connection.

Also, if your internet connection isn’t stable, your router might be faulty. Such a problem makes it difficult for you to finish your tasks, leaving you frustrated.

If your wireless router generates more heat than usual, you need to replace it. Usually, wireless routers have a shelf life of three to five years. After this period, the internal components can break down due to overheating.

You can solve this by moving your router to a cooler place. Adequate airflow should cool it when it gets hot. However, if there is no difference, you should change your router as it can no longer withstand heat again.

In addition, your wireless router needs a replacement if it doesn’t support new devices. Technology advances almost every season; new products are made with more complex internal components. If your router isn’t made with the latest technology, it can’t support these new devices.

If you notice that your router doesn’t connect with your gadgets, it isn’t compatible. Also, if your router’s firmware hasn’t been updated by the manufacturer, you need a new one. What you should do is consult a tech expert and ask for recommendations on better versions.

Another sign that you need a new wireless router is if its indicator lights aren’t working correctly. Usually, a router’s indicator lights should remain lit or blink. If the lights don’t come on, that means your device is faulty.

If your device isn’t responsive, check the wires and cables to see if they are correctly connected to the appropriate ports. Check your power source to see if it is faulty. If everything is in place, your router has broken down.

Furthermore, physical damage can cause your router to break down. Most wireless routers have a strong build; they can withstand impacts against hard surfaces. However, serious falls cause technical problems.

Once an impact affects the internal circuit board, it is over for your router. You might take it to a technician to repair it, but the chances that it will work again are slim. The least stressful option is to get a replacement.

wireless router

How Often Should You Replace Your Wireless Router?

Usually, good wireless routers are built to last up to three to five years. After five years, the chances are low that the router will still work at its best. As such, you need to replace it.

Besides, how often you replace your router depends on other reasons such as internet connectivity, outdated technology support, etc. For instance, even if you have not used your router for up to five years but it no longer supports your devices, you have to replace it.

However, to avoid replacing your router frequently, ensure you buy high-quality wireless routers. Good wireless routers are built to last and withstand minor impacts. Buy only from tried and trusted manufacturers.

Also, replace your router with a version that meets all your internet needs. For instance, if you are using the latest technological gadgets, you should buy a router capable enough to support them. You can consult a tech expert before you go ahead.

If you replace your router with a modern version, you don’t need to go through much stress before you set them up. Modern routers come with well-detailed manuals you can read and follow to set up the new system.

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How Long Does a Wireless Router Last?

While the lifespan of a wireless router is generally five years, how long it lasts mostly depends on usage and maintenance. With proper use and care, wireless routers can last for more than five years.

For instance, if you overuse your router to the extent it starts overheating, or if multiple users are constantly connected to it, it will break down faster than you expect. You should allow your router to cool down once in a while.

Another factor that affects the lifespan of your wireless router is maintenance. No or little maintenance will make your router stop working for you no sooner than you bought it. A well-maintained router can serve you for more than five years as long as the technology isn’t obsolete.

To maintain your wireless router, ensure you place it in a spot that isn’t too hot or has too much airflow. Choose a location that gives the best network signal in your home. I would also advise you to place your router on a high point, not on the floor.

Also, keep your wireless router away from liquids. Liquids can spoil your router. Treat the cables and wires with utmost care.

Ensure you remove the dust trapped in your router regularly so that it won’t clog the vents. You can use compressed air to flush out the dust in the hidden corners. If your router develops a fault, take it to a technician to help with the repair.

Technology also determines the lifespan of your router. Internet speed and standards change almost every year, and every manufacturer has to keep up with the latest when producing their gadgets. If your wireless router becomes obsolete, you have to change it even if it hasn’t been used for long. 

What To Consider When Replacing Your Wireless Router

Picking a reliable wireless router among the myriad of available ones isn’t easy, especially if you don’t know much about the marketing terms and acronyms manufacturers use. Besides, neither the name nor price of the router determines its quality.

One of the essential things to consider when buying a new router is the capacity of both the RAM and processor. If you intend to use your wireless router for gaming, downloads, streaming live programs, etc., you need a router with high processing power. If you want to enjoy using a wireless router, it should have nothing less than 128 MB of RAM and a dual-core processor.

For convenience, ensure your wireless router has a smartphone app. You should be able to operate your router’s features or view its working state without having to browse on your computer. A premium-range router will also allow you to connect to the internet through the mobile app even if the router isn’t near you.

Also, never buy a single-band router. You would have many problems with internet connectivity if your router only broadcasts the signal on one frequency. The network would either be slow or congested.

You can buy dual-band routers or more. Besides the fast internet speed you will get, you can also connect to your router using more standards.

You should also consider the type of quality of service the manufacturer offers. The Quality of Service determines the amount of bandwidth you allocate to your devices. However, most people don’t use this feature because they don’t know how to configure it.

Ensure the router’s Quality of Service isn’t ordinary. There is no way to configure it. Advanced Quality of Service is more beneficial because it manages your bandwidth using smart algorithms.

The router should have at least a USB port, either a type C port or USB 3.0. You will need it to connect your router to other modern devices. Never buy a router without a USB port.

Besides the Quality of Service, other useful features such as firewall, VPN servers, antivirus, etc., matter. Your router should have these features if you want adequate protection from outside attacks. However, a low-end wireless router can’t offer you these advanced features.

A wireless router with a high RAM capacity such as 512 MB or more, powerful hardware, and standard Wi-Fi frequencies will do. This might be expensive, but it is worth the cost.

In addition, your router can help in making your work at home easier. If you have smart home devices, you can buy a wireless router that has a task automation feature or integrates with a smart assistant. This way, you can manage your router through the smart assistant.

wireless router

Conclusion

Only premium-quality wireless routers have a long lifespan and can satisfy your internet needs. As such, you should only buy high-end routers. However, while proper usage and care will go a long way in preserving your router, technological advances might cause you to replace it as often as possible.