We’ve all been there.
You’re streaming your favorite TV show when it stops suddenly due to an internet connection stoppage.
It’s not an uncommon issue, as anything can happen from the ISP to your end device.
While pinpointing the exact cause may be challenging, one possibility is always a faulty router.
Can our reliable router, which is supposed to constantly run for years, go bad?
Can A Router Go Bad? (10 Failing Signs)
Yes, a router can break like any electronic device, especially since it works 24/7.
Routers have a certain lifespan and go bad more quickly if you keep them in undesirable physical conditions.
High temperatures, low ventilation, and dust buildup can accelerate the router’s failure.
Reduced speed, sudden failure and stoppage, frequent needs for reboots, and unusual LED light activities are among the most common signs of a failing router.
If your router is old, replace it with a newer model that matches the latest wi-fi technologies.
Otherwise, you should take extra diagnostic tests before replacing the router since it may not be faulty.
Ten Signs Of A Failing Router
1. The Router Frequently Stops Working
The most telling sign of a route failure is that it suddenly stops working for no reason.
You have to restart the router to get it up and running again.
However, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the router is unsalvageable and needs replacement.
The sudden stoppage may be due to a faulty wire inside the router or a failing power supply.
If you have a separate modem, the connection between the two devices may be faulty due to broken or loose cables.
Therefore, you should take your time doing diagnostic tests to ensure the router is failing, not other components.
2. You Experience Connection Problems
Sometimes the router doesn’t show any signs of failure.
Everything is going smoothly when your connection suddenly gets cut out.
You can see the signs on your computer or smartphone’s internet icon indicating no connection.
You may get messages like “No Internet Connection” or “Not Connected.”
The issue repeatedly occurs to the point that you can’t do your tasks without interruptions.
The connection may return after a few seconds or doesn’t until you restart the router.
3. Indicator Lights Act Weirdly
The indicator lights on the router are excellent diagnostic tools that help you ensure your device is working correctly.
If they act weirdly, blink, or go out completely, they may be indicating the router has gone bad.
You may also see other colors—such as red or amber—instead of green.
Another sign is that some lights are on while others aren’t, though they turned on and stayed on before.
These weird behaviors are typically coupled with other signs like stoppage.
However, they don’t necessarily mean that your router is failing.
For example, they can indicate problems from your ISP.
If the problems are repeated, and the ISP confirms there are no problems on their end, you should start diagnosing.
4. Your Internet Speed Has Decreased
Reduced speed is a nagging sign you should take seriously.
Only some drops in internet speed come from the ISP.
If there’s a problem on their end, they have to address it as quickly as possible.
If your internet speed has dropped significantly and doesn’t go up, a failing router may be the culprit.
Run a speed test at different times of the day to ensure the reduced performance is not a one-time thing.
Also, ensure your decreased speeds aren’t due to high network traffic or someone downloading or uploading large files on another device.
Then, compare the results with your purchased plan and see if they differ significantly.
If so, call your ISP and see whether they can help.
If the connection from the ISP to your home is okay, the problem is with the router, as it can’t deliver good results.
5. Your Devices Can’t Connect To The Internet
A failing router can’t deliver a reliable connection to the connected devices even if it seems to operate correctly.
For example, you can see all the indicator lights are green or blinking normally, but none of your devices get internet.
Note that you should ensure all the devices—and not just one—have connection issues.
When other devices connect to the internet, the router isn’t faulty.
In other cases, the devices can connect to the router only via one connection type.
For example, they can’t establish a wireless connection, but a wired connection through the ethernet cable works.
That’s another indicator that the device is failing.
6. The Router Overheats
Another sign that your router is headed to the gutter is that it constantly runs hot.
Overheating is a common issue among electronics, especially in devices that come inside enclosures.
However, if it’s a new issue with your router, it can be a sign of failure.
In addition, overheating means the device gets so hot that you can’t touch it.
It shows the device is working harder to do its job while the internal components are broken.
To ensure overheating is a sign of router failure, move it to a well-ventilated area and see if it overheats again.
You can also place it in front of a fan to see if it improves.
If it doesn’t, it’s time to replace it.
7. You Get Limited Coverage
If your building is large with thick or wet walls, the router has difficulty getting signals to every room in the house.
That shouldn’t be a firm indication of your router going bad.
However, it can be a sign of a failing router if you didn’t have any coverage issues before.
When your signal suddenly weakens, you should first rule out other issues before jumping to replace the router.
For example, you may have recently added a new piece of furniture that blocks the signal from reaching other areas.
8. You Hear Unusual Sounds From The Router
Routers are silent devices since they don’t have any moving parts.
Noises coming from the device aren’t good signs.
Reboot the router to make sure it’s not a one-time issue due to a temporary glitch.
If the noises come back after the reboot, it’s time for a more in-depth checkup.
The noises may be due to physical damage, broken internal components, or simply screws coming loose.
You should take the router to a technician to find the culprit.
9. The Router Keeps Rebooting
Restarting the router is a great way to remove temporary glitches and improve performance.
However, it can be alarming if the router gets rebooted on its own and does so frequently.
It may fail to operate correctly due to failure and damage to internal components.
That said, you should first rule out overheating since it’s a common cause that makes devices shut down inadvertently.
If the issue persists, it’s time to get a new router.
10. The Device Breaks Down Completely
This terminal sign shows your router has seen better days and needs a replacement.
The router becomes unresponsive to the commands you give it.
For example, it turns off and won’t come back on.
Then, you check all the cables and connections, ensuring everything is okay.
No matter how many times you press the reset button or unplug and replug the router, it won’t turn on.
If every diagnostic action fails, you can be certain that the router has failed.
How To Ensure It’s Time To Replace The Router
The signs mentioned above can be surefire ways to ensure the router is failing.
However, seeing more than one of these signs may be needed to lose hope and throw out your router.
Look for other signs in this article to ascertain the router is beyond help.
Plus, you can do the following tips to rule out causes other than router failure.
1. Try Different Connections
One of the most helpful ways to ensure your router, and not the connection from the ISP, is faulty is to try different devices.
If you have a modem connected to your router, you can bypass the router and connect a device directly to the modem.
Since the modem doesn’t send out wireless signals, you should connect your device through an ethernet cable.
If you get a stable and fast connection, your router is faulty, and you should troubleshoot or replace it.
2. Check All Connections
Routers experience intermittent connections and stoppage due to power cutoffs caused by broken wires and cables.
Your power supply may also be faulty, preventing the router from getting enough power.
Therefore, it’s essential to check all power cables and ports if you experience intermittent internet connection.
Unplug the power cord and plug it back in to reset the router and see what happens.
Try a different outlet to make sure the router gets enough power.
As mentioned above, a faulty power supply is one of the leading causes of routers acting weird.
If the cables are connected via a USB port, disconnect them and make sure the port is working.
3. Power Cycle The Router
Another great way to fix router issues is power cycling it.
It clears any bugs or errors that cause connection hiccups, helping you decide whether the router is failing.
To do so, unplug your router, wait about 30 seconds, and plug it in again.
Remember, it’s essential to wait 30 seconds before plugging the router back in.
If you plug it in immediately, the ISP thinks there was a temporary disconnection and gives you the same channel.
Alternatively, you could hard reset the router by pressing its reset button at the back of the device.
A hard reset will return the device to its factory settings and helps you get a better connection.
4. Update Firmware
Many router issues result from outdated firmware.
It develops bugs and errors that prevent the router from getting a stable and fast connection.
If you have rented an ISP-provided router, you may not have permission to update the firmware, as the ISP will push the updates automatically.
However, you should make sure the router receives these updates.
If it doesn’t, it shows the router is too old and will face many security issues.
Manufacturers sometimes add new features to routers through these updates, making them perform better.
You can check the manufacturer’s website to see the list of devices that receive firmware updates.
If your router isn’t on the list, you should replace it because it’s too old and isn’t supported anymore.
If your router is less than four years old, there’s a high chance that it still receives these updates.
You can install firmware updates through the device’s mobile app or the router’s web interface.
How Long Does A Router Last?
Routers are robust devices designed to run continuously and for a long time.
Generally, you can expect your router to last over a decade without hardware issues.
However, that doesn’t mean you can keep your router that long if you want to access the latest technologies and get the most out of your connection.
As routers get older, the manufacturers stop their support for them, meaning they don’t send firmware updates.
As mentioned in the previous section, not receiving updates and security patches leaves your device vulnerable to security threats.
That’s why many manufacturers recommend updating your router every four or five years.
Still, this varies by the manufacturer, as some have lifelong support for their products and keep updating their firmware.
Another issue is support for new devices.
As technology advances by the day, the new devices that come to the market make older technology obsolete.
As a result, you may see that your old router can’t give a reliable and fast internet connection to your new smartphones or IoT devices.
For example, you can’t get the most out of your connection if your router supports the 2.4 GHz band while your smart TV supports the 5 GHz band.
Ultimately, you decide to stick to your older router as long as it works or upgrade it to a more advanced one every three to four years.