When your home Wi-Fi starts to go in and out, slows down or generally declines in quality, it can start to affect everything from movie night to daily virtual learning. And unfortunately, when things start to go awry with your internet connection, the culprit can be a bit hard to pinpoint, especially when it comes to troubleshooting your router.
If you find out that you do need to replace your router, here are your best up-to-date options.
Here are a few ways to know that your router is causing your internet issues and why it may be time to find a new one.
Your router is outdated
It’s time to replace your router if it’s more than four or five years old. Many Wi-Fi-connected devices like smartphones, tablets and smart home devices receive software updates regularly. If the technology connected to your router is more than the router is built to handle, you could ask for problems as more time passes and more devices are connected.
A router purchased before 2018 may also not be compatible with the newest Wi-Fi 6 technology standard, 802.11.ax. Newer Wi-Fi standards allow for faster speeds and better connectivity between your devices and your internet connection. A router purchased in 2015, much like a car, was fully equipped with the latest technology available (802.11.ac).
It’s good to remember that if you buy a Wi-Fi 6 compatible router, but your devices are Wi-Fi 5, you won’t get the best performance possible from either one, and the reverse is also true.
If your router is on 24/7, (let’s be honest, it probably is) the heat from the device can start to affect it over time. The heat stress is enough to wear down your router and cause symptoms like spotty coverage and slow speeds. Vents are built-in to the device to allow the heat to escape, but over time, dust can clog those vents and cause overheating, if you’re not careful.
Try doing a bit of maintenance now and then by using compressed air to clear your router vents. You’ll know for sure that your internet issues are caused by heat if you point a fan near your device and the problems start to subside. When you’re ready, invest in a new device and adopt a regular maintenance schedule going forward.
Your router is incompatible with your home
There may be nothing wrong with your router at all. It may just be the wrong router for your household.
A brand-new router won’t amount to much if it’s not capable of the speed that your internet plan allows and your connected devices demand. Be sure to check the maximum speeds listed on your router before you purchase a new one. If you’re into internet activities like gaming and sporting a monthly plan of one gig, not every device on the market is going to give you the experience you desire.
The latest standard in Wi-Fi is Wi-Fi 6 which is becoming more popular as consumers replace their Wi-Fi 5-compatible devices. Check out our picks for the best Wi-Fi 6 routers to maximize performance in your new devices.
The size of your home will affect your Wi-Fi performance if your router’s not up to the job. You could have a brand new, top-of-the-line router with the fastest speed capabilities. Still, if you’ve got a house that’s bigger than the range of your router, coverage will be limited to as far as your router will allow even if your router is in an optimized location.
If you’re not looking to replace just yet, try a few “booster” solutions like Wi-Fi extenders or a Wi-Fi repeater to push your signal as far as it can go. When you’re ready to replace, consider a mesh network. These systems create a spider web network that extends as you move through your home.
For more tips on improving your Wi-Fi connection, check out a full breakdown of affordable ways to boost your signal.
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Written by:Taylor Gadsden
Writer, Broadband Content
Taylor is a veteran member of the Allconnect content team and has spearheaded a number of projects, including a data piece on the top fiber cities in the U.S. and a troubleshooting guide on how to connect your p… Read more
Edited by:Robin Layton
Editor, Broadband Content