If you’re anything like me, the last thing on your mind is your Wi-Fi router. You plug it in and you get internet to your devices, and as long as it does the thing, then it’s fine, right? As it turns out, maybe not.

It’s not always obvious to tell if you need to replace or upgrade your Wi-Fi router. So here are a few telltale signs that your crusty old router is well overdue for an upgrade.

Router age

If you can’t remember the last time you got a new router, it’s probably well out of date.

Many experts suggest that if you don't use that many smart devices around your home, you can probably get away with replacing your router every five years.

But these days, who doesn't have some smart device connected? Even your fridge can be a smart device!

So, if you've got multiple devices connected to the internet, it's a good idea to update your router every two to three years. There are the usual caveats to this where you may want to investigate upgrading sooner, which I'll touch on below, but basically it depends on the capacity of your router and what speed your NBN connection is.

Does the speed match the capabilities?

Not all routers are created equal. Most wireless routers have a cap on what speeds it can accommodate.

Sometimes routers can accommodate higher speed connections when you switch the channel width and channel of your router's Wi-Fi bands (you can read about how to change this at our Help Centre), but this isn't the case for all routers.

So, if you've upgraded your internet speed recently, your wireless router may not be rated for it.

This means you could be paying for something you're not getting. That's pretty bad.

Info about what speeds your modem router can achieve will likely be on the manufacturer's website, so just Google the make and model to find out what speeds it can accommodate. If it's less than the NBN plan you're on, then it looks like it's time for an upgrade.  

The internet speeds ain't what she used to be

Have you noticed the speed of your internet connection is slower than it used to be? There are many reasons why this might be the case (my previous blog discussed several of these), but one common reason is an outdated router.

Slower internet speeds, particularly when you've had a decent connection in the past, could be a sign that your router isn't performing as well as it should.

Routers rarely show outward signs of decay, rather they will display symptoms of decay, and slower than usual speeds to your devices is one signal that your router is on its way out.

One way to check is to use an Ethernet cable to connect a computer or laptop directly to your modem. If performance is noticeably better than when using Wi-Fi at close range in the same room, then you've likely identified your problem.

Can’t connect, won’t connect

Waiting for your Wi-Fi to work in this one corner of the house...

Similar to above, having difficulty connecting or staying connected to Wi-Fi is another sign that your router is on its way out.

If your Wi-Fi keeps disconnecting you, especially when you've had a reliable connection in the past, this could be an indication that your wireless router is degrading and it's time to update. Or your router may also stop holding your settings as a result of a decay of flash memory that stores the device's configuration.

Another sign your router is well past its use-by date is when you start noticing a weaker Wi-Fi signal in places around your home where it used to be crisp. Although this is more likely to be due to your router placement or some kind of interference with your signal, it's also potentially another symptom of a dying Wi-Fi router.

(Read more about how to improve your Wi-Fi signal at home)

To test this, first check the placement of the router and make sure that there's nothing new that might be interfering with the Wi-Fi signal from spreading around your home. If that's all cool, as noted earlier, try plugging in a computer to your modem to test if performance changes.

It’s what’s on the inside that counts

Pet hair, dust bunnies, and all kinds of gunk can get sucked into your router through its air vents. Too much of this and its performance can dramatically drop.

It’s a good idea to periodically blast the vents with compressed air to dislodge any build-up of whatever gross stuff that’s accumulated back there, and this can sometimes be enough to get your main router back up and running.

But, again, if age is a factor, or if there’s just too much detritus backed up in there, it’s probably better to just upgrade and reap the benefits of the latest router technology.

Control the internet. Oh the power!

Be like He-Man

As your family or household grows, your internet needs and the way your family accesses the internet will also change. So you'll want to harness the full power and controls that the latest routers can offer.

(Read about how a mesh network at home can help keep your family in check)

New Wi-Fi routers do more than just spread the internet love around your home. Today, there are a whole host of controls you can access, including some pretty deep parental controls and monitoring, network security, as well as ways for guests to access your Wi-Fi without having to share your password.  

A mesh router, like the new eero 6 router, also lets you set up a mesh WiFi network that gives you impressive wifi coverage throughout your entire home.

(Cyber) safety first

On top of parental controls and monitoring, some of the latest Wi-Fi routers, including the eero 6 (now available to Superloop customers), offer cyber security services as an additional add-on.

The latest routers often offer you the ability to engage additional cyber security features like ad blocking, content filtering, and other stuff that may vary.

Today, with cyber threats running rampant, and with Australia a major target for such attacks, it's even more important that your internet security becomes a major priority. Plus, as we're increasingly working from home these days, securing your home network is even more critical than ever.

Not all wireless routers offer these kinds of features, particularly many older routers, so if you're concerned about your family's online safety and home network security, then upgrading to the latest router is a good start.

So, do you need to upgrade your router?

Ultimately, whether or not you need a new router entirely depends on what you've got and what you want out of your internet.

Routers are far from being any kind of sexy purchase that you're going to be psyched about having to buy, but they're so critical to everything we do online that they're hard to completely ignore.

Technology moves fast, and this goes for Wi-Fi routers too. So if you use the internet on an outdated router, you could be missing out on a whole lot of features -- and speed! -- that you're paying good money for.

Superloop now offers a selection of hardware to purchase when you switch to a Superloop plan. For existing Superloop customers, purchase your own schmancy new router in your Members Area.

We're proud to be the exclusive Australian internet service provider offering the latest eero 6 router. Find out more about the eero 6 mesh Wi Fi system and all the cool stuff it can do.