Knowing when to call it quits and buy a new router can be hard, but as a Network Engineer, I will help you decide if you need a new router or not.
In this article, I’ll help you learn how to troubleshoot your router first to see if you can solve the issue without a replacement.
Then, I’ll help you identify situations where it’s best to throw in the towel and simply buy an updated model. So you know exactly what to do and when.
Troubleshooting Router Problems Before Replacement
Wi-Fi routers are the key to accessing the internet at home from multiple devices. Not only do they provide internet access, but they also protect your computer from attacks like malware.
Once you install your router, things should be working smoothly. Sometimes, hiccups occur, and you’ll run into a challenge with your router.
But there are several simple strategies that you can employ to solve problems and get your internet access back up and running.
The first and easiest thing that you should do is simply unplug and plug the router back in.
Do the same with your modem, as the problem could be stemming from that device rather than the router.
While it seems incredibly simple (and it is), it can solve many issues by resetting the interface between the operating system and the radio receiving the internet signals. 
If this doesn’t work. Try resetting the router. You can do that by pressing the little hidden button on the back of the router for 5-10 seconds.
This will, however, reset all the custom settings you have done for your router. As well as the router forgetting all of your devices. 
Another option is running speed tests to see if the issue is just a weak signal in a part of your home. These are free tests you can find online to help.
If you think it may have to do with your computer place in your home or where the router is. Try moving it to a different location and see if that solves the issue.
You could also try bypassing the router and plugging your computer straight into the modem using an ethernet cable.
If you notice a major performance improvement, that’s a sign that your router just isn’t cutting it for you, and it’s time to get a new one.
Signs You Need to Replace Your Router
How often should you replace your router? Well, if the above tips aren’t working to solve your problem, there’s a good chance it’s time to upgrade to a new router.
Just to make things easier, if you’re noticing any of the below issues, take that as your sign to go ahead and replace it.
You’re Lagging Behind
If you’re lagging in terms of technology, you’re only going to fall further behind as technology continues to rapidly evolve.
It’s important to stay up to date on the latest upgrades and updates. For example, new routers today often have 2GHz and 5GHz capabilities, letting you access the internet from either one.
You Can’t Keep a Connection
If your connection drops and you have to unplug and re-plug in your router every day or every few days, don’t stay frustrated. Get a new router and find relief.
A new router has a greater capacity to handle several devices at once, so you won’t continue experiencing dropped connections.
Routers can work up a moderate level of heat. But if they get too hot, they will start having problems. Thus, it’s important to keep space around them so the air can properly vent. 
If you’re leaving room to vent, but your router keeps overheating and hence, turning off, it’s a sign that it’s weathered too much wear and tear. You should call it a day and get a new one.
If you want more flexibility through third-party firmware upgrades. You might need to start with a new router that allows for these capabilities.
Older routers are less likely to work with third-party firmware, but newer routers with DD-WRT can offer you better options.
Unmet Need for Speed
If you’re watching videos on Youtube or streaming Netflix and getting frustrated by the additional load times and lagging speed. You might need to upgrade to a better router.
It’s okay to accept that a router speed that was just fine a few years ago is no longer providing what you need. So move on, and find one that can give you the throughput you’re looking for.
Just note that your router will never give you faster throughput than what you pay your ISP for.
Status Lights Not Performing
If the status lights on your router that indicate power and internet connection aren’t lighting up. This is a sign that your router isn’t functioning as it should.
Trying to repair an issue like this can wind up costing you more in the long run, so you may save money just by getting a new one.
Continued Failure to Launch
If your router fails to start time and time again, these are likely just the beginnings of the problems you’ll face.
These devices aren’t meant to last forever. When they start to show these signs of degradation and slowing down, lean into it and buy yourself a new one that will last.
Final Thoughts – When to Replace Your Router
When you ask the question, “How often should you replace your router?” the simple answer is you should replace it every three to four years. 
That guideline is a good place to start, but there’s more nuance to the answer than just this blanket statement.
It’s essential to check in with your router and look for signs of poor performance, like lagging speeds, malfunctioning status lights, and dropped connections.
If you notice one or more of these, ditch the 3-4 year recommendation and upgrade to a new router, no matter how long you’ve had it.
Also, check if the router still has a warranty, as routers usually have between one to three years.
If you want to learn more about when to change your network equipment – check out when to replace your modem.