How Long Does a Wireless Router Last?

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Wireless routers have become an integral part of networks and the devices we rely upon to deliver connectivity in both our homes and workplaces. Connecting to a WiFi network is quick and easy, not to mention that all the mess that comes with cables is not there.

It is a convenient and elegant way to provide connectivity on-the-go and provide higher network speeds to devices such as laptops, tablets, and smartphones.

As a crucial part of the network, a wireless router must be reliable and provide seamless connectivity. Yet, consumer data shows that, on average, a wireless router lasts about five years. This is a significantly shorter lifespan than most manufacturers advertise for their devices.

Main Causes of Wireless Router Malfunction

Wireless routers do not have any moving parts, and therefore should have a long lifespan in theory, as there is no wear and tear associated with friction.

The main reason why wireless routers die is heat stress. The electronic components are housed in small metal or plastic cases with no active cooling, causing overheating and eventually component failure.

Consumer statistics also show that while an average router is replaced every five years, it does not mean that all replaced routers are malfunctioning or faulty. Newer, improved models often replace older routers.

We have put together a list of factors implying that your router is about to malfunction or should be replaced with a newer, better model.

1. Connectivity Issues

If you are experiencing random connectivity issues, such as loss of connection or router restarting unexplainably, there is a chance that the hardware in your wireless router is malfunctioning. A reliable connection is crucial; therefore, a new wireless router might solve these issues.

Wireless Router

2. Overheating

If your wireless router is extremely hot when touched, the chances are that overheating is an issue you have to deal with. Most routers overheat when forced to handle a lot of network traffic and lack of active cooling solutions inside.

Overheating can cause a drop in wireless router performance, dropped connections, and fire even in rare cases. Replacing an overheating router should be a priority.

3. Drop-in Network Speed/Performance

If your wireless network suddenly seems sluggish and slow, there might be an issue with your wireless router. Start by eliminating other causes of poor performance first, such as overheating, your neighbor stealing your WiFi, or router cache being full.

If the internet speed issues persist after changing your password and restarting the router, a new wireless router might be the only option you have.

4. Outdated Wireless Standard

Over the years, wireless networks have evolved and improved network performance. You can often hear terms like WiFi 5 or 802.11ac, but what do they mean?

Every several years, a new standard for wireless networks emerges, and it is either named with a number/letter combination, such as 802.11ac or simplified as WiFi 1, WiFi 2, etc.

Each new standard brings an improvement in network speeds, along with plenty of other functionalities and features. The current wireless standard is WiFi 6, or 802.11ax.

Wireless routers that use an older WiFi 5 standard (802.11ac) are also fast enough for most applications in homes and businesses. However, if your modem has WiFi 4 or worse standard, you should definitely consider upgrading it to a WiFi 6 router.

5. Ability to Handle More Devices

Older wireless routers had limited capabilities in terms of the number of connections they can handle. A laptop or two used to be what most wireless networks in homes were required to handle. Times have changed, and households now have multiple computers, smartphones, tablets, smartwatches, smart TVs, and other smart devices connected to the wireless network.

Older routers struggle to keep up with these bandwidth-hungry devices, causing network performance and connectivity issues.

If your old router is having trouble connecting to all of your smart devices, it might be time to upgrade to a newer, more capable device.

6. Security

One of the biggest issues with older wireless routers is the security risk. Often they use older encryptions and security protocols, which modern hackers can easily exploit. Upgrading to a newer router with more robust security features will significantly increase your wireless network’s safety.

Conclusion

A wireless router might be the most important piece of network equipment you own, as it is the primary gateway through which all your smart devices get access to the internet.

While most routers nowadays are durable enough to last a decade, the reality is that you should replace your wireless router more often.

The emergence of new wireless standards, improved network speeds, connectivity, and security features quickly makes old wireless routers obsolete. Therefore, changing a router every 3 to 4 years is the sweet spot.

John Hill