5 Signs You Need a New Router
Expert tips to keep your network up to date
Your router manages all the internet connections in your home. An old, outdated router can slow down your Wi-Fi, disrupt your connections, and leave your network vulnerable to security risks.
But how can you know when it’s time to replace your router? We’ll walk you through five surefire signs that it’s time for an upgrade.
Your router is more than 5 years old
Technology changes quickly. Upgrading your router periodically makes sure you get to take advantage of improvements to wireless speeds, efficiency, range, and network security. Every five years is a good timeline to replace (or at least consider replacing) your old home networking equipment. That way, you can keep up with tech and get a good amount of use out of each router.
This isn’t a hard-and-fast rule, of course. You can certainly upgrade more frequently, especially if you like being on the cutting edge of tech or you wear through your routers more quickly with heavy use. And a five-year-old router can certainly still be usable, especially if you don’t use the internet super often.
But if you are in the market for a new router, check out our favorite wireless routers that use the latest Wi-Fi 6 technology.
You’re renting a router from your ISP
There are a few situations where it’s smart to rent equipment from your provider, but most people should buy their own stuff. It saves you money in the long run and gives you more control over your home network.
Router lease fees add up:
- $5–$15 per month
- $60–$180 per year
- Up to $900 over five years
Buying a router like the TP-Link Archer AX21 costs less than $100 and can last for years. Over the lifetime of your router (assuming you have it for five years), that can save you up to $800.
Besides saving money, buying your own router gives you more control over your home network’s features and security. There are hundreds of routers on the market with features that can boost Wi-Fi range, speed up online gaming connections, streamline multiple connections, and improve internet security.
Your Wi-Fi network has connection issues
A router’s whole job is connecting you to the internet. If it isn’t doing its job, get a new router. Connection issues can appear as losing your internet connection and difficulty connecting to the internet. Poor connectivity is a pretty good sign that your router is on its last legs.
Now, not all internet connection issues are caused by a faulty router—provider network outages, loose cords, modem issues, and other things can also disrupt your internet connection. But there are a few easy ways to check where your problem is.
Start with the lights on your router and modem. If they’re all green, that means things should be working properly. That means your disconnection is probably a router shortcoming.
Your Wi-Fi range and speeds are getting worse
Like poor connectivity, worsening Wi-Fi range and speeds are signs that your router is failing. You don’t need to see all these symptoms to replace your router—any one is a sign that the complex machinations inside your router might be breaking down.
Like most tech, routers tend to break slowly over time rather than all at once. And there’s no point in keeping a router that’s going to only perform worse and worse over time.
If you’re not sure if your Wi-Fi is getting slower, take a few internet speed tests and keep track of the results to see how your network performs over time.
Your router runs hot
Routers do a lot of heavy lifting for your network. If yours is heating up a lot when you use the internet, that’s a sign that it’s overworked. It’s normal for routers to get a little warm when working, but if it’s too hot to touch comfortably, it’s overheated.
Older routers weren’t built to sustain the multitude of smart devices and connections that many households use today, so juggling more than a few connections can make them break a sweat. This is bad because it’s a sign that your router can’t sustain your internet use.
Overheating can also be caused by poor ventilation. Routers usually have vents but no active cooling mechanism. Also, people shove them in corners or places without airflow for proper cooling. Heat is your router’s enemy. A router that frequently overheats is going to break down well before one that stays at a reasonable temperature.
Author - Rebecca Lee Armstrong
Rebecca Lee Armstrong has more than six years of experience writing about tech and the internet, with a specialty in hands-on testing. She started writing tech product and service reviews while finishing her BFA in creative writing at the University of Evansville and has found her niche writing about home networking, routers, and internet access at HighSpeedInternet.com. Her work has also been featured on Top Ten Reviews, MacSources, Windows Central, Android Central, Best Company, TechnoFAQ, and iMore.
Editor - Cara Haynes
Cara Haynes has been editing and writing in the digital space for seven years, and she's edited all things internet for HighSpeedInternet.com for five years. She graduated with a BA in English and a minor in editing from Brigham Young University. When she's not editing, she makes tech accessible through her freelance writing for brands like Pluralsight. She believes no one should feel lost in internet land and that a good internet connection significantly extends your life span.