How often should you replace your wireless router?

Wi-Fi routers are the way to go when you want to connect multiple devices to the internet. The devices work like mini-computers enabling one to enjoy fast and uninterrupted internet access while at the same time offering some level of protection against malware attacks.

After, installing a wireless router the next question you need to ask is when to replace it.

The most held view on router replacement is that you should do it after every four to five years. However, this may come sooner if your router starts dropping internet connections to devices or when there is a significant technology upgrade that renders your current router obsolete.

You know it is time to replace your router when the following take place

Technology Evolution

Smart technologies keep evolving at a rapid rate. This means newer devices are more demanding and have the capacity to do more. In the age of IoT devices you need a router that can meet the demands of modern devices. Having a router that can transmit using the latest technologies is a plus at it prevents device overcrowding and problems with signal strength. Newer routers have the capacity to transmit over two frequencies – 2.4GHz and 5GHz. With this setup in place you can split your devices over the two frequencies with the 2.4GHz handling long ranges while the 5GHz been used for newer and faster devices.

You also know you need to upgrade your router when you realize that you are still using outdated Wi-Fi technologies like 802.11g. Most router models have upgrade to 802.11ac meaning some of your latest devices may not work well with your router still operating on 802.11g or 802.11n.

You keep dropping connections

If you notice that every time you add new devices to your Wi-Fi network the connection drops then know it is time to get a new router. New routers have the capacity to handle multiple devices on their network without any significant case of drop in speeds. The routers also operate more than one band meaning you can separate your connections.

Constant overheating

Routers like most network devices are subject to internal components wear/tear. Ideally, a router will come with multiple air vent for heat dissipation. However, with time these components stop functioning as expected and you start experiencing overheating cases. It is at this time you will be forced to get a powerful router.

Third party firmware

Routers operate like mini-computers with processors and RAM. Routers will come with their own set of firmware to run the device. However, if you are looking for more flexibility in how your router operates then you need to consider one that allows third party firmware. A standard router that comes with DD-WRT offers you more options than one with standard firmware. It is almost impossible to upgrade your firmware when using a ISP provided router.

If you desire more speed

Your internet needs will change over time. What worked well for you three times ago may become untenable as you add more devices to your Wi-Fi network. If at the beginning you purchased a router that supports just 300Mbps you find that your devices demand more than 1Gpbs Ethernet.

Bandwidth prioritization

Newer routers come with more options when it comes to router settings. If you have kids logging into your network then finding a router with parental control makes more sense as you can regulate the kind of content your children access. Bandwidth prioritization settings like Quality of Service (QoS) enable some of your bandwidth intensive devices get priority on the network. This will come in handy when you are thinking of streaming live videos. If you have an old router that does not support innovative router technologies like beamforming or MU-MIMO then it is time you replaced your router.

Besides, bandwidth prioritization it is also wise to upgrade to a router that supports guest networks. This enables you invite guests into your network with a custom password. Your guests can surf the net comfortably without necessarily interfering with your private network.

Status lights do not function properly

You know it is time to replace your router when you notice that your router lights do not light up properly. This is a sign for decreased router performance. For most routers repairing it when it starts misbehaving can cost you more than when purchasing a new one. This is because the router firmware could be outdated and due to age you may encounter more hurdles along the way.

Failure to start properly

If you have been having a router for more than four years then the probability of you experiencing difficultly starting rises. Routers consists of RAMs and processors that do not have an infinite lifespan. Just like those in a computer with time they do start slowing down. You know your hardware components have deteriorated beyond repair when you have inconsistent reboots. Another major cause for reboot problems is excessive heating. Routers should not be stored near high heat areas or direct sunlight. You should also be extra careful not to block the air vents.

When you should replace your router

Replace or Repair
Major cause of overheating is poor ventilation
Move router to more aerated area no need to replace
Unresponsive router
It could be that your power cable is not connected well.
If problem persists even after checking power cable it is time to replace router
Lack of connection
Wi-Fi signal not reaching devices

Outdated router technology

Use Wi-Fi extenders for signal coverage

If technology is outdated then replace your router

Low speeds
Your router cannot match new speed demands from latest gadgets
Replace router with an upgrade to something faster


There are people who will use their routers for many years without replacement. However, recent technological advances means you will find yourself replacing existing router every four to five years. Most of the time your router starts acting up through overheating or loss of connections it means it is time to replace it. Repairing a router that has been use for more than five years is counterproductive as some of the internal components have outlived their purpose.


How do you know you need a new router?

Whenever you try to switch it on but it does not respond, poor connectivity and overheating

Can a router just break down?

If it old and has been suffering from heat stress and connectivity issues, Yes it can break down suddenly

Leave a Comment