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How Long Does a Router Last?

Written by: Jefferson / October 07, 2021

A reliable router is more important than ever in our digital world. 
Remote work, online education, socializing, gaming, and so much more are online. Your router is a vital component, connecting your devices for peak performance.
However, if your router is looking a bit worse for wear – or not performing as it should – you might want to consider an upgrade to next-generation hardware.
How long can you reasonably expect a router to last, what are the signs that a router is on the way out, and how can you make your next router survives as long as possible?
Let’s tackle all these questions and give you the definitive answers, starting now.

Average Router Lifespan

How old is your router? Is it on its last legs? Let’s talk about the average router lifespan and some factors that come into play.

How Many Years Does a Router Last?

With hundreds of hardware products available around the world, routers are all built differently and vary in terms of longevity as a result.
But based on consumer reviews and research, it’s generally known that a typical router lasts between three and five years before you may want to consider an upgrade.

Cycle of Technology

Why does the average router last three to five years and not longer? Why not just upgrade your router every year to keep your network optimized?
The truth is that most routers work perfectly well for at least three years before they start showing signs of age or problems with performance.
Unless you test routers for a living, there’s really no need to make yearly upgrades, especially from a cost and convenience perspective.
Consider how IT trends work on a broader level to see how routers fit into the puzzle of network technology.
WiFi 5, the standard of wireless networking introduced in 2014, was recently eclipsed by the debut of WiFi 6, which represents a leap in speed, stability, and overall performance. That’s just one example of how WiFi technology advances and the typical rate of innovation.
Add this to the fact that most people upgrade their devices (laptops, smartphones, and more) every few years, and it makes sense that background hardware like routers should be replaced in a similar timeframe - if not a bit longer.

New Network Needs

The networks of today look very different than they did just a decade ago.
Rather than just two or three devices connected in a typical home, the average home now has at least ten devices to a single network, 24/7!
We’re not just talking about checking email and paying bills online, either. Most modern devices are critical for our careers, education, communication, and even home security and utilities.
In other words, networks are under more stress than ever, and your router must be up to the task.

When to Upgrade Your Router

Your router may be a few years old, but is it the right time to upgrade?
Here are a few common signs to look for and determine if you need a new router.

Physical Breakdown

Broken antennae, loose ethernet ports, frayed cables – these are all clear signs that your router has seen better days. This issue is more common for workplace routers that use lots of ethernet cables and direct connections.
A few scrapes and dents may not have an impact on performance, of course, but physical damage is your main indicator that an upgrade may be due.

Connectivity Issues

When your router starts to struggle with connection speed and stability, that’s when you should take notice.
Inconsistent connections are the main sign that a router is on the decline. 
You may find that connections drop randomly throughout the day with no explanation. Even if the connection resumes within minutes, that’s a level of uncertainty you can’t accept.
You may notice that the average speed of your connection decreases over time as well. Run an internet speed test every few months if you suspect this is the case. Remember to test connections everywhere in your home, especially far away from the router itself.

Compatibility Problems

Your router may be working perfectly fine, but other factors may render it obsolete.
Events include upgrading to a larger space, changing your internet service, or adding many new devices to the network.
Routers all have limitations in terms of the range of coverage, so a network extender or mesh network upgrade may be required if you upsize your home or office.
You also might want to upgrade your internet service for more data and speed. Make sure your router is ready to handle that new level of service so you get your money’s worth.
Finally, older routers are not as well equipped to handle dozens of devices at once, so an upgrade may be needed for these larger networks.

Next-Gen Router Features

Wondering what you should look for in your next router? Here’s a quick checklist to help you make the right call.

Mesh Network Capabilities

Thinking a few steps ahead is key to making your router investment last.
Mesh routers are a great way to ensure a future-proofed WiFi system. Start with a single, standalone unit, and simply add new satellite units to expand your network on the fly.
Mesh routers also have the advantage of proprietary apps for centralized control and network management – great for larger networks at home or at work.

Strong Security and Protection

When picking out your next router, security should be a top concern, so find a product with powerful protection from hackers, intruders, and other cyber threats.

Complete Parental Controls

Digital parenting is critical in an era when kids are connected to the web 24/7.
Best-in-class routers put the power back in the parents’ hands, granting them visibility and control over access to apps, websites, and much more.

Get the Most From Your Next Router

No routers last forever. But this guide should help you identify issues and know the right time to upgrade. Choose a next-gen router with key features, and make the most of your investment!
How Long Do Routers Last? | LifeWire
How Long Does a Wireless Router Last? | DomainNameSanity
When it’s Time to Upgrade Your Router | CNET