In 2016, I signed up for a snazzy new Internet service that advertised speeds of up to 100 megabits per second. So I purchased a brand-new gigabit router to go with it. It was valid for six months. That made me wonder how long a router should live.
For a while, routers were so inexpensive that I didn’t mind how long they lasted. For $20, you could acquire a decent router. However, getting the features we desire now will set you back $100 or more. And at that price, you should expect it to last a long time.
How Can You Tell If Your Router Is Degrading?
When the router is operational, the data transfer indicator blinks or remains constant. However, if the light is not blinking correctly or is not steady, it is a sign that the router is not working properly and may require replacement. This is seen as an indication that the router is about to fail.
Even if the router is not working properly, you can connect your smartphone, laptop, or any other device to the Internet. Routers typically cease to function efficiently after 3 to 4 years. If you use the Internet and Wi-Fi frequently, you should replace your router every 3 to 4 years.
Routers should live indefinitely. Why do they not?
In principle, a router should endure for decades, if not forever. After all, there are no moving parts to fail. They should be as dependable as a 1980s game console like the Atari 2600. Atari manufactured millions of them, and millions of them are still operational because of the lack of moving components.
And some routers do last indefinitely. I frequently come across used functional Linksys WRT54G routers. They’re out of date because they only operate on a 2.4GHz network and can’t keep up with modern Internet speeds, but they nevertheless gladly transport data. That’s why Linksys keeps making them: consumers are tired of buying cheap routers that break after six months, so they buy a WRT54G since they know it will work. It will be the slowest, clunkiest wi-fi on the block, but it will function.
Ironically, one of those cheapo good-enough routers, a TP-Link TL-WR841N, lasted roughly five years before being destroyed by a power outage.
Also check: How to Increase Router Speed on Tp link
Obsolescence in function
I don’t recommend using older routers as your primary router, such as the Linksys WRT54G, because they weren’t designed to manage the number of Internet-connected wireless devices that most home users have these days. When I first got my WRT54G, I had a desktop computer and a laptop connected to it. This past weekend, I counted 17 devices on my network. That may seem excessive, but if every member of the family has a phone, a tablet, and a laptop, and every TV is connected to a game console or a streaming device, and you have a network-enabled printer, 17 devices start to seem acceptable.
A faster CPU to manage more concurrent traffic, quicker networking to handle Internet connections faster than 100 megabits, and dual-band wireless to prevent interference from cordless phones and microwaves are all features of a modern wireless router.
The failure of hardware is another reason routers do not live forever. Not all routers are made with high-quality components, and not all of them have appropriate cooling on the inside.
That’s what happened to my brand-new dual-band router. It was fantastic while it worked. Then it chose to conk out and destroy my work-from-home day one Thursday morning. I was aware of the router’s heat issues, but I had taken efforts to try to alleviate them. It wasn’t enough one day, and the router simply stopped responding. When I turned it on, I got the power light, but none of the other lights worked.
It is unusual for a router to fail after only six months. However, having one die after two or three years is all too usual. The PC you connect to the router will most likely outlive it, which doesn’t seem reasonable.
What routers do I suggest?
TP-Link and Asus routers have worked well for me. Right now, I recommend the Asus RT-AC68U due of its speed and dependability, as well as its ability to run the alternative Merlin firmware. It’s pricey, but it works well, and the Merlin firmware adds a lot of useful functionality without making it overly difficult.
Normally, I advise against purchasing extended warranties. On routers, though, I switch back and forth. It’s not necessarily a bad concept, in my opinion. That way, if the router fails within a year or two, the store will replace it.
Keeping your router hooked into a decent surge protector or UPS helps to extend its life. Place it somewhere where there will be lots of airflows. Putting it in a basket makes it appear nicer, but it restricts ventilation and may reduce its life expectancy.
How long should a router last if you buy a high-quality model, give it enough of airflow, and plug it into a backup power supply? I’d say it’ll be around five years. And, if everything goes well, more like ten. However, the Linksys WRT54G appears to have spoiled us.