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5 Signs You Need a New Router: The Complete 2022 Guide

Is your Wi-Fi router slowing down your internet and causing connectivity issues? It may be time for an upgrade.

In this comprehensive guide, we‘ll walk through the top signs indicating your router needs replacing. I‘ll also share some troubleshooting tips to try first, and what to look for when shopping for a new router.

As an IT professional with over 10 years of experience, I‘ve helped many clients boost their home Wi-Fi by upgrading outdated routers. Read on to learn the signals that you need a router update too!

Why Your Router Slows Down Over Time

Your Wi-Fi router is the central hub connecting all your devices to the internet and each other. But after years of use, even the best routers start to show their age.

There are a few key reasons routers decline in performance:

  • Ageing hardware – The internal chips and antennas wear out over time. This reduces Wi-Fi range and speed.

  • Firmware lag – Outdated firmware can‘t keep pace with new devices and websites. It causes glitches and connectivity issues.

  • Security vulnerabilities – Older routers lack modern encryption. This leaves your network open to hackers.

  • Network congestion – With more devices using Wi-Fi, routers struggle to handle the demand. Bottlenecks lead to buffering and lag.

Experts recommend upgrading your home router every 3-5 years. For households with many connected devices, every 2-3 years is better.

Keep reading for the surefire signs your faithful router is due for retirement.

5 Signs Your Router Needs Replacing

1. Slow Internet Speeds

The number one frustration with an aging router is slow Wi-Fi. If web pages take forever to load or Netflix is constantly buffering, your router likely deserves the blame.

One study by BroadbandNow found:

  • Only 55% of U.S. households get the internet speeds they pay for.

  • The average home Wi-Fi connection tested at just 70% of the advertised speed.

Before running speed tests, try rebooting your router and modem. Also check for interference from appliances and reposition the router centrally.

If speeds are still slow, use a tool like in different rooms on different devices. Compare results to your plan‘s max speeds to pinpoint the problem.

Consistently slow speeds indicate your router is past its prime. Time for an upgrade!

2. Frequent Network Drops

Another symptom of router aging is an unstable internet connection. Does your Wi-Fi randomly drop out or need constant rebooting? Faulty hardware may be to blame.

Interference can also disrupt the signal:

  • Appliances – Refrigerators, microwaves, baby monitors, etc. operate on the 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi band.

  • Wireless congestion – Nearby networks, Bluetooth, Zigbee smart home devices, and cordless phones also interrupt Wi-Fi.

  • Obstructions – Thick walls, water pipes, and distant router placement impede signals.

Before replacing the router, scan networks to change channels. Test connections in different rooms to find dead zones. And try updating the firmware.

If you continue losing connections daily, it‘s definitely time for a router that won‘t quit on you.

3. Overheating Issues

Routers contain many delicate electronic components. When these parts overheat, it can cause intermittent shut downs or failed startups.

Normal router operation reaches about 104°F (40°C). But inadequate ventilation, dust buildup, and aged hardware push temperatures higher.

Watch for these warning signs of an overheating router:

  • Hot to the touch
  • Lost internet connection
  • Frequent rebooting
  • Failures powering on
  • Odd noises or burning smell

Regular cleanings will extend your router‘s lifespan. But a persistently hot router indicates declining performance. Upgrade to a model with better heat dissipation.

4. No Security Updates

Out-of-date routers pose a severe security risk. Without regular firmware updates, they lack protections against new hacking threats and vulnerabilities.

Worrying statistics from Avast reveal:

  • 68% of routers run outdated firmware, averaging 1-3 years behind.

  • 89% of routers have security flaws like weak passwords and obsolete encryption.

  • Unpatched routers are breached within 9 minutes of connecting to the internet.

Modern routers support WPA3 encryption and automatic security updates. To stay safe online, upgrade any router more than 2 years old.

5. Rental Router Fees

Renting a router from your internet provider seems convenient. But added monthly fees really add up!

The majority of ISPs charge between $5-$10 per month to rent a router. Over a multiyear contract, that‘s $120-$240 down the drain.

Purchasing your own high-quality router pays for itself within a year. And you retain full control to customize settings and install VPNs or parental controls.

So if you‘re still renting hardware, now is the perfect time to buy a newer router with the features you want.

Before Replacing: Simple Router Troubleshooting

Before running out to buy the latest router, try some basic troubleshooting on your existing model first. You may be able to extend its useful life.

Here are a few quick DIY steps to attempt:

  • Reboot – Power cycle the router and modem by unplugging them for 60 seconds. This clears any software glitches.

  • Check connections – Replace old ethernet cables and ensure cable connections are secure. Loose ports cause drops.

  • Log in – Access your router admin dashboard by entering its IP address in a browser. Check for firmware updates to install.

  • Change channel – Scan local networks and switch your router to the channel with the least congestion. This resolves interference issues.

  • Reposition – Place the router centrally in your home, away from disruptive appliances and building materials. Adjust antenna angles for best coverage.

  • Factory reset – Within router settings, choose "Reset". This erases settings and reverts firmware to default.

Take your time working through these steps. Moving the router or updating firmware often get connectivity back on track. But if problems persist, your router likely needs retirement.

What to Look for in a New Router

Once you decide to upgrade, choosing the right next-gen router for your needs is key. Here are the most important features to consider:

Latest Wi-Fi Generation

Look for routers supporting Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax). This newest Wi-Fi generation boasts faster top speeds up to 9.6 Gbps. It handles 30% more devices simultaneously with less congestion. For future-proof performance, go Wi-Fi 6.

Extended Range

Large homes require a router that broadcasts signal farther. Mesh routers fill this need with multiple access points to blanket every room. Tri-band routers also help by reducing network congestion.

Robust Parental Controls

To manage kids‘ device time and block inappropriate content, select a router with customizable parental controls. Some even allow pausing the internet and setting usage time limits.

Built-In Security

At minimum, your new router should have WPA3 encryption. For fuller protection, choose a model supporting a VPN. Set it up with a no-logs VPN like ExpressVPN for anonymous browsing and total network security.

Still Unsure? Try Testing Your Router‘s Health

To know for certain if your router is underperforming, a helpful tool is the free Hopper Speed Test.

This mobile app diagnoses network issues and identifies hardware bottlenecks. It measures metrics like Wi-Fi data rates, ping times, and packet loss.

Results pinpoint whether low speeds stem from your router hardware or internet plan. The app also suggests troubleshooting and optimizing your network.

So next time your Wi-Fi acts wonky, use Hopper to check your router‘s health. The insights help determine if an upgrade is truly in order.

Time to Upgrade: The Last Word

We rely on routers to stream, work, and stay connected, but these devices don‘t last forever.

Watch for the key signs like slowed speeds, frequent drops, overheating, missing security protections, and rental costs. When these router issues arise, your network will keep faltering unless you replace outdated hardware.

Before buying a new router, always first try quick troubleshooting like changing location, channels, and cables. Updating firmware also helps optimize performance.

But if your router is over 5 years old, an upgrade to Wi-Fi 6 mesh or tri-band models will restore fast, reliable, and secure access throughout your home. Ditch the rental and enjoy Wi-Fi that just works!

Hopefully this guide better equips you to make the right router upgrade decisions. Let me know if you have any other questions!


Streamr Go

StreamrGo is always about privacy, specifically protecting your privacy online by increasing security and better standard privacy practices.