When should I replace my modem? 

When should I replace my modem?

How to know when you need a new modem

Chances are, if you’ve searched for ‘when should I replace my modem?’ you’re likely to be encountering some problems with your internet connection. As a rule, you should replace your modem every 3 years, and every 5 years at the very least.

A modem is a device that connects your computer or digital device to the internet via a telephone line. They frequently cause issues with internet connectivity and can be tricky when it comes to diagnosing problems.

If your internet has gone from reliable to unreliable very quickly, it’s possible that you are experiencing issues with your modem.

You are likely guaranteed to encounter issues with your modem, just like every other electronic device you own. The reason for this is because electricity is running through the device, which causes it to wear down over time.

If you’ve had your existing modem for over 5 years and you’ve noticed some problems with your internet connection, it’s possible that you will need to replace your modem.

But don’t worry, as this is an issue that happens for the majority of people at some point. For most people, it’s a simple matter of updating their modem and ensuring that they are using the most up-to-date technology.

There are plenty of reasons why your modem will wear out in a couple of years. In order to save you money and extend the lifetime of your modem, we recommend following some tried and trusted techniques. This will help to extend its life for as long as possible.


How to make your modem last longer 

A modem’s length of life can depend on how well you take care of it. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways that you can ensure that your modem is as healthy as possible.


Protect your modem from surges

We all know that we should be using surge protectors. They’re not a glamorous piece of equipment, but they certainly are important and can lengthen the lifetime of your modem if used correctly.

The reason that surge protectors exist is because many electronic devices are sensitive to electrical surges. These naturally occurring increases in voltage can damage delicate electronics that haven’t been designed with surges in mind.

It’s recommended to use a surge protector that has a phone-line input jack to protect your modem and your computer from electrical charges.

In this way, your modem will receive a steady flow of electricity, which ensures that it will work as it was designed and the insides of your equipment can stay functioning for longer.


Keep your modem in a secure place

Modem storage is probably not top of your list of priorities when it comes to safeguarding your electronic devices. However, it’s incredibly important to keep your modem stored in a secure environment if you want it to function as intended.

A modem will need to be plugged into a power outlet and some form of phone or cable source. This can curtail the number of places that you can safely keep it.

Consider keeping it up high, where children or pets can’t easily access it and damage it. It goes without saying, but keep the device well away from any water sources, and if you live in a humid environment, try to keep the moisture levels regulated in the room.

To prevent fire hazards (and ensure good safety practices), the modem should be in a well-ventilated area, dusted regularly, and not too close to other objects.


Turning it off when not in use could help

There is some debate about whether it’s more efficient to leave a modem on all the time, or whether it should be turned off when not in use.

One side argues that by powering on and off the device, it causes it to shorten its life, while the other argues that giving it time off from a constant electrical current is more beneficial.

There isn’t a clear answer to this one, but consider that you may be saving money on electricity if you turn it off at night.


Check connections regularly

If your modem is in a rarely-touched area of your home, it’s likely to sit unnoticed for long periods of time. If you are cleaning around the area, some of the wires or connections may come loose.

These loose connections could actually impact on the life of the modem, by causing the electrical current to work harder as a result of the poor connection. Aside from causing you internet connectivity issues, it may damage the device itself.

Be sure to periodically check that all connections are fully plugged in and working as they should be.


The signs your modem has seen better days 

If you troubleshoot your connectivity problems and you come across potential modem issues, what are the key signs that you should look out for when it comes to your modem? How can you be sure that it is the modem causing the problem and not something else?

We’ve put together a list of the tell-tale signs that you need a new modem.


Lagging internet

 One of the most instantaneous ways that you will tell you that you’re having modem problems is that your internet will start to slow down.

If you’ve noticed a problem with images not loading, videos buffering, or slow response times on webpages, it could be connected to your modem.

Of course, it will depend on how much your internet allowance is per month. Compare much data you’ve got on your plan (and at what speeds), with the speeds that your computer is actually capable of.

The more information you can gather about the source of your problem, the quicker you will solve the issue.


Problems connecting to the internet

Apart from slow-loading times and frustratingly laggy internet, a modem can cause even worse issues.

If you notice that your internet is suddenly dropping out and coming back online, it could be related to your modem. The stability of your internet connection is susceptible to faults within your modem.

The next time it drops out, consider if your modem is old enough to need an update.


The modem’s technology

Fortunately, some modems will take the guesswork out of having to figure out if it is the modem’s fault.

When you get your modem, you will likely receive a handbook containing the meanings of different indicator lights and buttons. For instance, some modems have a blue continuous light showing that the internet connection is stable.

Keep that manual to hand, because it will let you know what an orange flashing light means, or what you should do if you have a continuous red light, for example.

Even if you discard the user manual, it’s likely that you will be able to find a copy of the instructions online for reference.


Unresponsive modem

Possibly the most obvious sign that you are having modem difficulties: your modem won’t turn on, or it is completely unresponsive. We recommend trying some of the following steps if your modem is not working and you have no internet connection.

In most cases, you can do the following before contacting your provider:

  •       Turn the modem off for 60 seconds then turn it on
  •       Turn it off, unplug from the wall, wait for 60 seconds and try again
  •       Check all connections are tightly inserted and nothing is loose
  •       Connect an ethernet cable to the modem
  •       Plug the modem into a different wall socket (in case there is a fault with that socket)

If, however, none of these options bring your internet back online, it might be time to phone your internet provider to ask for further trouble-shooting support.

Alternatively, if you know that your modem is on its last legs, it’s worth updating it and getting a new one.

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James Taylor

With a 1st degree in computer and management sciences, I've been a committed tech and gadget fan for as long as I can remember! From extensive user guides to pointing you in the right direction when it comes to brand-specific device issues, I love solving tech-related problems. When I'm not writing here, I'm probably walking my dog!

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