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Sitting at home the other night, watching television with my young children, I saw an advertisement on the TV for yet another broadband deal advertising an upgrade to the latest shiny wireless router, and it got me thinking – if I were never to switch my internet provider again, how long would my current wireless router last? Would I still be sat here with my same antique router in 30 years’ time or would I be forced to buy a new one? As with any smart home question that finds its way into my mind, I quickly started pondering and it went a little something like this.
What Is A Wireless Router?
As with most questions, I figured it best to start with the very basics – what is a wireless router? Well, a wireless router quite simply is an electronic device that acts as the middle man between the internet cable and a wireless device such as a laptop or phone, allowing the transfer of data to be shared through radio signals in thin air rather than through a cable, pretty cool right.
What Effects The Lifespan Of A Wireless Router?
Given that we now know that a wireless router is simply an electronic device, the assumption would be that its lifespan could be somewhat limitless, after all, it’s not a living thing and has few moving parts, right? Well, wrong, despite it being a piece of machinery without a finite lifespan people still need new wireless routers, so what’s affecting their longevity?
Updates In Technology
Well, it would appear that one of the main reasons why wireless routers do not have infinite lifespans is that their technology is constantly evolving, making old routers obsolete. Just take a minute to think back to dial-up modems, we don’t see many of those still knocking around in nowadays.
Problems With The Hardware
Aside from wireless routers coming to the end of their lives because a new product has taken their place it also turns out that computer equipment, even with minimal moving parts, is still susceptible to good old wear and tear. Some of the things that can affect how quickly a wireless router starts experiencing technical problems include:
The Brand Of Router
Just like investing in any new technology, the brand you choose can affect its build quality. Top router brands such as Asus and Netgear are pretty well known for their superior lifespans and are created from better quality materials that are just built to last longer.
The Location Of The Installation
Installing a wireless router in a high traffic area like the hallway is just a recipe for disaster, you might as well be asking for someone to knock it on the floor or tread on it. It’s also recommended that wireless routers are installed away from lots of dust and they also prefer to be somewhere with good ventilation, so don’t hide them behind the TV where your duster never reaches.
Finally, a router designed for home purposes is going to struggle under the pressure of too many connections. Overusing your router can lead to it overheating, causing damage to its internal components.
What Are The Signs That Your Router May Be Dying?
When things start to go wrong inside wireless routers they tend to show themselves pretty quickly. Some things to watch out for include:
A Loss Of Power
Perhaps the most obvious sign that your router is on its way out is if it keeps losing power or is struggling to turn on. This usually indicates an issue with the power supply such as the connection between the power cable and the router coming loose.
There’s nothing more frustrating than your internet keeping dropping in and out, and sadly, this is also a sign that your router could be approaching the grave. Try moving the router closer to your device to rule out interference and if the problem persists then it’s time to say goodbye.
Another sure-fire symptom of a dying router is if it keeps randomly rebooting itself. Routers are basically small computers and so a router that is constantly rebooting itself is usually trying hard to overcome an internal hardware problem and needs to be replaced.
How Can You Increase The Lifespan Of Your Wireless Router?
Now we know why routers tend to die we can focus on keeping them alive for longer. Now you may not be able to slow down the rapid advancement of technology but you can be sure to look after your router to minimize the chances of it experiencing hardware issues. Some things to consider include:
Not Overworking It
Don’t try to connect your poor little home router to an office load of people, it’s going to get stressed out and experience a breakdown.
Install It Somewhere Sensible
Install your router out of the reach of children and away from where it will be knocked off by wagging dog tails or people passing by. Also, try to remember to give it a little dust every now and then and give it some room to breathe.
Turn It On And Off Occasionally
The good old ‘turn it on and off’ trick actually does have some technological backing and can help to clear the data cache that accumulates when a piece of hardware is in use for a long period of time. Think of it as giving your router a little nap.
And so it seems that at the end of the day the biggest enemy of the wireless router is in fact its own evolution. Although we may not be able to control the passing of time, what we can do is to make some simple changes to the way we maintain and look after our routers that will help them to live a long and natural life. Invest in a good quality router, treat it well and give it some TLC every now and again and it will reward you with a reliable wireless internet connection for many years to come.