Last updated on June 4th, 2021
Slow and clunky internet is a right pain in the backside. With so many of us spending more time at home, we’re all noticing and feeling these issues a lot more. Sometimes internet problems are caused by external problems with lines and systems. However, a lot of the time the issue is actually with your wireless router.
You see wireless routers can go bad. They don’t spoil like the food in the refrigerator, but they can become obsolete or damaged with heavy use. The issue is most of us tend to leave our routers on 24/7. This causes problems because they don’t ever get a chance to cool down. In fact, heat damage is one of the primary causes of failure in routers and other consumer grade appliances.
When the router warms up the internal components are the parts that suffer. The delicate electrical parts can only take so much heat. Once they’ve been exposed to lots of heat, these parts can stop working or at least work slower than they should.
Updates and new technologies can also make your router obsolete. They are made to be somewhat future proof, but manufacturers can’t predict or prepare for everything.
The location of your router can also affect how long your router lasts. For instance, keeping the router in the window exposes the router to sunlight which compounds the heat issue. Storing your router on the floor exposes it to dust which can clog parts and interfere with the inner workings.
How Can I Tell If My Router Is Going Bad?
There are a lot of signs and symptoms of a bad router. Basically, anything that makes you want to throw your router out of the window, is a symptom of a bad router. You’ve probably already experienced lots of them!
- Slow Connection and Excessive Loading Times – One of the earliest signs of a bad router is when your internet starts slowing down. If you’re having issues loading webpages, watching videos, or doing other things online, then it could be your router.
- Continuously Disconnecting and Reconnecting – When using a healthy router, you shouldn’t have to reconnect throughout the day. If you do keep getting booted off the router, then you might want to test your router.
- Suddenly Stopping – A sudden and complete stoppage of your internet is a fairly good sign that your router is giving up the ghost. It could also be an issue with your electric or a system outage, so you do need to double-check and isolate the cause.
- Strange Lights – Your router uses light to communicate what it’s doing. You’ll get to know which light means it’s uploading, which is downloading, which means it’s resetting. If you notice that the lights aren’t doing what they’re supposed to be doing, or they’re missing completely, then it’s time to check your router for issues.
A lot of these signs can also be caused by other issues including blown fuses, power outages, broken or loose wires, and network problems. The best way to check whether it’s a router issue or a wider issue is to use an Ethernet cable and connect your device directly to the modem.
If, when you bypass the router, the problems subside then it is clear that the router is the issue. If the problems persist, it might be an issue with something else.
How Often Should You Replace Your Wireless Router?
They say that things just aren’t built to last any more and unfortunately that is true of wireless routers. Most routers have a lifespan of around 3-4 years, but this depends greatly on the quality of the router, the speed of technological progress, and the use and maintenance the router sees.
Cheap routers, like the ones supplied by the internet companies are often shockingly poor quality. They tend to take a performance dive after the first year or whenever the introductory price period ends! High-end gaming routers can last closer to 5 years. However, this is dependent on you taking care of them.
This figure is also affected if there are massive advancements that require new mechanics. For instance, if you want Wi-Fi 6 you’ll need a compatible router.
Upgrading your router every 3 – 4 years also means that your router keeps up with your phone and computer upgrades. This is important because all devices in the network need to be able to speak to each other effectively. If your modem is older and slower than the devices, it will struggle to keep up.
Can an Old Wireless Router be used as a Wi-Fi Extender?
Yes, it is possible to repurpose your old router as a range extender. However, the process is a little bit involved. If you’re not overly confident with technology, then you’ll need to familiarize yourself with some basic terms and processes first. Before we take a look at how to make your router into a repeater, there are a few things we need to discuss.
First and foremost, if your old router wasn’t working or was performing poorly, don’t use it as a range extender. It will have the same problems with connectivity and speed as it did as a router. Secondly, make sure your new and old routers have the same bandwidth. If your old router has a bandwidth of 50mbps and your new one has 100mbps, you’re going to end up wasting half of your bandwidth.
To use your old router as a range extender, you’ll need to first connect your old router to the new with a CAT-5 cable. With the routers connected, you’ll need to go to the router login page and update the firmware. You’ll then need to go to the advanced settings and enable the wireless repeating function. This is where it gets a bit technical.
You may need to set a static IP address for the repeater. It’s helpful to set it to 1 higher than the new router. This shows that they are part of the same network. Before you exit out of the settings, check that the subnet mask of both routers matches. This helps the router understand whether the connections are local or remote. They should both match without intervention.
Finally, tick the box that says, ‘disable wireless client association.’ It will ask you to enter a MAC address. This can be found on the sticker that comes with the router. You’ll need to repeat these steps for the 5ghz network and let the router reboot. Then it should be working as a repeater.