How to Know What Router You Have and When to Replace It

Routers are an essential part of every household, but they are often overlooked until they break down. If you suddenly find yourself scrambling to find a new one, it can be stressful, especially if you have a school or work assignment that requires an internet connection. That’s why it’s crucial to consider replacing your router every four to five years. In this article, we’ll discuss why and which router might work best for your needs.

One of the primary reasons to replace your router before it breaks is that you may not be getting the internet speed you’re paying for. Routers have a limit on how much data they can allow through, so if you increase your internet speed through your provider and have a router that can’t support it, you’re paying for speeds you can’t take full advantage of. If your internet is feeling sluggish, sometimes it can be solved by merely rebooting your existing router. But if that doesn’t work, you’ll want to consider a new one.

Another reason you may want to consider a replacement is if your network gets bogged down by multiple people using devices at the same time. This can be especially frustrating if you’re on a video chat for work or school, and someone decides they want to do some online gaming at the same time. A new router can help by broadcasting higher speeds to more connected devices.

Then there’s the security aspect. Cybercriminals get smarter each year, requiring security measures to get better, to compensate. A new router will offer better security to keep your data safe, which is an invaluable asset.

When it comes to router types, there are a few options available. The first is a modem/router combination. This is a great all-in-one solution as it incorporates both required devices into one. A router won’t work without a modem, and some people don’t want, or don’t have space for, two devices. These work best in homes up to about 2000 square feet, but that will vary based on your home’s construction and how open the rooms are. Before purchasing one of these, be sure to verify it will work with your particular internet service provider.

Then you have a standalone router. Since these don’t have a modem built-in, they need to be hooked up to one to broadcast the wifi signal. These come in a variety of styles; some are good for general use like surfing the internet or streaming video on your TV, phone, or computer. Others are designed with gaming in mind. Amongst other benefits specific to gaming, these allow you to set internet speed priorities so that your gaming speeds won’t be disrupted by other connected devices. In some cases, they even broadcast a stronger signal, which can work well in homes even larger than 2000 square feet.

If you use either of the previous types of routers, you may find there are still dead spots in your home. If this is the case, you may want to try one of the following devices. First is a network extender. These small devices work along with an existing router and plug into a power outlet to help broadcast a wifi signal into dead zones within your home. But they don’t offer a full-strength connection and often create their own small networks, which can cause issues when you move from room to room. These work best for areas you don’t occupy frequently but still want to have a usable signal.

Finally, mesh network systems are extremely popular as they work great in large homes and homes with lots of rooms. They typically come with a main router that plugs into your modem and a secondary point that can rebroadcast the signal at almost full strength. They’re simple to set up using an app on your smartphone, and if you find you need more coverage, you can merely add another point to expand the system further. They don’t offer as much customization as a gaming router, but in homes where gaming isn’t a priority, these are a great option. They tend to be a larger investment than a typical router but are well worth the expense.

Each home is unique, so certain products may work better in your home than others. If you need any assistance finding which router will work best for your needs, be sure to contact our experts by phone, email, or chat online. We’re available 7 days a week, and we’re always happy to help.