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How to Know When You Should Replace Your WiFi Router

Every time my sister passes by the wireless router at her place, I have caught her stealing a suspicious glance at it like it is some unwanted gecko gawking at her, waiting to pounce. I have seen her go to any lengths to push tinkering with that mysterious box at the end of her to-do list.


Reading complex manuals, plugging and unplugging cords, going cross-eyed over acronyms that somehow seem to do this unusual rain dance is reason enough for her to avoid such circumstances. If you can relate to this, then let me tell you here that the worst mistake of all is trying to avoid that blinking little machine that keeps you connected. Now the more important question is, why should you mess with the quiet machine that still works? Let’s take a close look at the symptoms to diagnose your router.

Situation 1: Your router suddenly stops functioning

The first thing that you should do when this happens is, eliminate all possibilities of an accidental wire connection. There is nothing more embarrassing than watching your technician bring your router back to life by unplugging the wrong wires from the wrong ports and putting them in their rightful places. All you would need to do is, check that the cables that link the router to the computer or modem or other devices are properly inserted into the respective devices. If all else fails and you find yourself staring with a blank expression at your router, it is time to get it replaced.

Situation 2: Your Internet access was quietly obedient yesterday and has decided to elude you today

The “Limited Connectivity” is a major catastrophe. However, it is always wise to be completely sure that your router has failed you before deciding to replace it. In this case, a few things you can do is:

  • Try using a different Ethernet cable.
  • The problem might be with your system too. Trying to connect to the Internet via a different device would be a good idea to test your WiFi’s condition.
  • Another thing that you can do is, unplug the router from the modem and the electrical outlet. Now wait for some time. Plug it right back. If the internet access blinks back to life, then you are safe. If not, then you know what to do.

Situation 3: Your connection is suffering random drops and you can barely go a few hours without these annoying interruptions

Your router shouldn’t be behaving this way even if it is Halloween. You can perform the following steps to eliminate reparable possibilities:

  • Third party traffic could be overloading your device. Therefore, it is always advisable to password-protect your wireless network. It might even drive away the unmitigated interruptions.
  • Check out the manufacturer’s site to hunt for a new firmware update, if any and instal them.
  • One of the most common reasons could be a nearby interruption blocking the WiFi signal. What you can do is, move your router to a different location or move your wireless device closer to the router to test the connectivity.
  • The problem could lie with the Ethernet cable. You can consider replacing that with a new one.
  • You would also need to rule out any possibility of power issues to interfere with your connectivity.

If none of this helps, you might have to replace your router.

Situation 4: You can suddenly access all those sites that you have blocked previously

Routers have an on-board that is responsible for storing internal configuration settings. A failing router, upon power cycling, loses its configuration and returns to its default factory settings. This indicates that there is a problem with the internal flash memory and there is no way around it, apart from getting the router replaced.

Situation 5: You see no lights on the router to indicate that the connections you have plugged into it have been acknowledged

It is a major nuisance when the lights just won’t spark to life no matter what you do. However, a few things you can do are as follows:

  • Power-cycle the router by unplugging it and waiting with baited breath for 30 seconds. Plug it back and check if the lights obey.
  • Make sure that the router isn’t overheated. Even though this is rare, you might as well check to rule out the possibility.
  • You can also perform a hard reset by restoring the factory settings of the router.
  • Using spares to test whether you can achieve a sustained connection between your router and modem would be a good idea. It is time to get a new router if none it works.

If you have been a victim of any of the above situations, then it is highly likely that your WiFi router is broken and would need a replacement, however sad the parting might be. Even if the blinking device seems ferocious to you, I promise, it won’t give you any more trouble if you get a worthy replacement.

Written By

Steven Scheck is the Principal of Inspire WiFi, the nationwide leader of multifamily wifi and healthcare wifi. When he isn't bringing Wi-Fi to the masses, he enjoys spending time and traveling with his wife and 4 kids and occasionally gets in a round of golf. He is also very involved in philanthropic causes in Miami and nationally.

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