How Long Do Modems Last? When to Replace It?

Being a part of the modern age, having a fast and reliable internet connection has become one of the most essential needs in everyone’s life. Modems are vital networking devices, that are required to access the internet services at all times. We are all aware that electrical gadgets have a defined lifetime, warranty, and so on. Do modems have a lifespan? If so, have you considered the longevity of your modem? 

In this article, we have covered every significant aspect of modems, such as their lifespan, tips for extending their life, considerations for replacement, and so on. Adhere to the flow to discover more about this. 

What is the Average Lifespan of a Modem?

modemMost people believe that the average lifespan of a standard modem is about 3-4 years. While the premium grade modems last between 4-7 years. However, the life of a modem is entirely dependent on various factors such as built-in materials, device quality, technological improvements, maintenance, proper handling, connected devices, usage patterns, and so on. And your modem may last longer than the given lifespan and your expectation as well. 

Yes, your modem can indeed last longer with some simple tips and tricks. We have provided detailed information on various things that can be considered to improve your modem’s lifespan instead of its replacement.

Anyways it is mandatory to go for a new device if it is broken (or) completely failed (or) outdated. But still, if you continue to use the same outdated one you might be in trouble for sure. This leads to various problems including slow speed, sluggish internet, and performance issues as well.  

When You Will Need to Replace Your Modem?

A modem’s functionality and performance typically depend on various factors including internal components and built-in materials. Similar to other hardware devices, even modems have a limited lifespan. Although no two modems are the same, they are designed to perform similar tasks to access the Internet. Here are some of the reasons and signs why you should consider changing your modem.

1. When Your Current Modem Dies

  • Most times a lot of dust, dirt, and debris get accumulated into your router if it is not maintained properly (or) left neglected in your house. 
  • Along with this exposure to direct sunlight, heat surges, connectivity disturbance, and power surges may lead to the wear and tear of the device. These situations may eventually cause your modem to cease operating entirely.
  • If this is the case, repairing your router may be ineffective. The only alternative is to replace it.

2. When You are Switching Internet Service Provider

  • Different ISPs provide different internet options, such as DSL vs cable. A DSL modem will not connect to a cable modem, and vice versa.
  • If you find yourself in this situation, first check whether your current modem is compatible with your new ISP; otherwise, you will need to get a new one.

3. When You are Upgrading Your Internet Plan 

  • If you’re looking to upgrade your existing internet plan to the next speed tier, first check whether your present modem is capable of handling those plans. 
  • Essentially, outdated modems may be incapable of supporting more bandwidth and operating effectively. That’s why consult your ISP and check if your current modem is compatible with the upgraded plan. 
  • If a simple upgrade would make it up, then upgrade your device; otherwise, purchase a new one.

4. When Your Modem Doesn’t Support Services

  • Usually, some web-based services, such as Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) apps, require Embedded Multimedia Terminal Adapter (eMTA) modems to work.  
  • The eMTA is a combination of a cable modem and telephone adapter that converts digital VoIP signals into analog signals for a linked phone. 
  • Unfortunately, this feature is not incorporated and supported by all the ordinary modems. So, if you are the one who is looking for such advanced features, ask if your ISP offers a modem with eMTA. 

5. When Your Modem’s Performance is Degraded

  • Your modem may struggle to manage rising data demands over time and may fail consequently. First, run a speed test on your connected devices via speed test tools.
  • If your connected devices do not receive the expected speeds (or) experience sluggish internet, it could be one of the signs to replace your modem. 

6. When Your Modem Has Security Issues

  • It is critical to update the firmware of the modem regularly. Typically, manufacturers would provide these upgrades to fix bugs and defects, allowing the device to work efficiently.
  • However, as the modem ages, manufacturers might stop to release updates and provide technical support for older versions. In this case, you must replace your modem for sure. 

7. When Your Router’s Technology is Outdated

  • These days even Internet Service Providers are constantly improving their networks to handle higher speeds and new connection standards as technology evolves. 
  • Outdated modems may not support the most recent technologies, and you may not get the most out of your internet service package.
  • In certain cases, updating your modem to DOCSIS 3.1 (or) 3.0 (or) 4.0 will significantly enhance your online experience.

How To Make Your Modem Last Longer?

We have listed a handful of tips to make your modem last long and maximize its lifespan. 

1. Future-Proof Your Modem
  • When purchasing a modem, we ensure that it is compatible with the existing internet package. But what if your ISP’s network and connection standards advance? Does your current modem compliant with your upgraded internet plan? 
  • Typically, the answer will be no. That’s why, look into many factors such as intended users, bandwidth, compatibility, required uploading speeds, and so on. So, that you don’t have to worry about getting a new modem to meet your future needs.  
  • Another factor that extends the life of your modem is placement. You might not think it’s important, but where you place your modem is essential.
  • Always place your modem in an open, well-ventilated area of your home. Avoid exposing it to direct sunlight (or) other heat-generating sources such as heaters, refrigerators, and so on. Keep your modem clear of obstacles by not stacking anything on top of it. 
  • Exposing your modem to high temperatures might cause it to overheat. As a result, avoid placing it near heat-generating sources (or) under direct sunlight. 
  • Overheating can harm internal components, and extremely low temperatures may hinder performance. Keep your modem in a climate-controlled environment to maintain optimal operating conditions.
  • Frequent power surges (or) outages can damage the sensitive circuitry components within the modem to fail, resulting in faults or total failure. 
  • Using a surge protector (or) an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) can safeguard your modem from power surges and electrical fluctuations. 
  • Neglecting the modem over time could allow dust and dirt to accumulate on it. This results in an obstruction in the airflow and overheating. 
  • Clean your modem regularly with a soft, dry cloth to remove debris, filth, and dust. Always avoid using liquids (or) cleaning chemicals that may cause the device to malfunction.
  • It is important to update your modem’s firmware periodically. This process is crucial to keep your modem up to date. It helps to fix bugs, faults, and security patches. 
  • Keep your modem upgraded with the latest software versions to enhance security and performance. Keep an eye on the app (or) website for regular updates from the manufacturer and install them on your device for smooth functioning. 

7. Professional Maintenance
  • Professional maintenance can help in the early detection of faults and extend the life of your modem as well. Consult a qualified professional if you are experiencing recurring issues (or) long-term hardware concerns.
  • They can identify and fix any underlying issues that hinder your modem’s performance.
  • Connecting too many devices to your modem may lead to overloading affecting its overall performance. Although modems are designed to handle multiple devices, linking too many devices (or) gadgets like laptops, mobiles, computers, etc may lead to network congestion.
  • Regular restarts (or) power cycling your modem every once in a while aids in a seamless operation. Essentially, modems get piled with a lot of bugs, malware (or) viruses due to multi-networking. 
  • Hence, rebooting the device once a month helps in fixing the bugs and eliminates all the issues by boosting its performance. 

10. Unplug the Modem When Not in Use
  • Leaving the modem plugged in when not in use for a long time can result in overheating of the device. This in turn results in the damage of the internal components (or) malfunctioning (or) complete failure.
  • That’s the reason turning off the device when you are not using it for a long period gives its components a break from overheating. 

Following these simple and easy tips can help you out in extending your modem’s lifespan. However, it is a known fact that every electrical and electronic device comes with a specific lifetime. And finally, they must be replaced after that limit to cope with the technological advancements and network standards. 

Why An Old Modem Can Be a Problem?

Old (or) outdated modems can become a headache deteriorating your internet speed and causing a poor network connection. Here are some of the specific reasons why an outdated modem could grow into a problem.

1. Modem With Obsolete Technology

Primarily, modems with outdated technology cannot support updated network standards and high-speed plans. Since aging modems use antiquated protocols, outdated security updates, poor data transfer rates, and limited bandwidth, the speed of your internet may suffer, causing the signal to move like a snail. So, old and inefficient modems can become an obstacle to your streaming experience. 

2. Security Issues

Network security is an essential factor that must be addressed. Typically, outdated modems may have security flaws that expose your network to unwanted access, virus assaults, and data breaches. Manufacturers frequently identify these flaws, work on them, and supply firmware upgrades to fix security vulnerabilities. However, manufacturers will not supply firmware upgrades for outdated modems over time, and you may no longer receive these updates, leaving your network vulnerable to potential breaches.

3. Limited Features and Performance

As technology evolves, more new features are being incorporated into modems to improve their performance and security. However, older modems may lack modern capabilities such as Quality of Service (QoS), parental controls, network segmentation, VoIP, encryption protocols, and so on that are included in newer models. This can impede your network performance and security risks. 

4. Compatibility Concerns

These days modems are compatible with all networking devices including smartphones, laptops, computers, etc. whereas the older ones may struggle to keep up with the most recent network connection standards and protocols. They can be incompatible with modern networking equipment, routers (or) devices demanding faster connection speeds. This incompatibility might lead to connectivity problems such as interrupted (or) dropped connections.

5. In-Efficient Power Consumption

As we all know, older electrical equipment often consumes more electricity than newer ones. Likewise, older modems may use more electricity than newer, more energy-efficient devices. This leads to increased power costs and an adverse effect on the environment. 

6. Limited Technical Support

As stated above, over time manufacturers often stop releasing any kind of updates on outdated modem models. In fact, along with the updates you will no longer be able to receive any sort of technical assistance from the manufacturer’s end.

7. Lack of Future-Proofing

Along with new technologies even the ISPs are actively upgrading their network plans and connection standards. Most outdated modems will not be to cope with the internet developments, thus restricting your ability to take advantage of advanced internet services and speeds. 

Therefore, these are some of the major issues that be created by your old modem. While these problems can be addressed by replacing the device with a new one for a more reliable and stable internet connection.

How Long Do Modems Last – FAQs

1. Will buying a new modem increase my internet speed?

Ans: Not really. Your ISP will determine your Internet speed but not your modem. However, if your modem is incapable of handling your Internet plan, it might reduce (or) limit your Internet speed.

2. How long will a rented modem last?

Ans: A rented modem’s lifespan is normally determined by the rental agreement with the internet service provider (ISP). ISPs frequently give modems that are meant to survive the length of the rental contract, which is typically one to three years. If the modem fails within that time range, it is the ISP’s responsibility to repair (or) replace it.

3. How to remove dust from my modem?

Ans: It’s very simple. 
*Spray compressed air through the vents of your modem in short intervals to free up and remove dust particles from your modem. clean it with a soft and dry cloth to remove the dust accumulated on the device. 
*Avoid using a damp (or) wet cloth since it may damage the internal components of the device. 

4. What are the different upgrades provided by ISPs in the USA?

Ans: The following is a list of upgrades provided by various ISPs in the United States.
*AT&T Complimentary Speed Upgrade [2018]*Comcast Increases Speeds for users 
*Free speed upgrades to cord cutters

5. What to do if my modem is not working?

Ans: Try these things before purchasing a new device.
*Turn off the modem and wait for a couple of seconds.
*Make sure all the cables are plugged in properly.
*Check if the issue is with your modem (or) the connected devices.

6. What is the difference between a modem and a router?

Ans: Modems connect to the internet directly, whereas routers link other devices to Wi-Fi. Modems connect to an ISP and translate its signal into one that your computer can understand. A router establishes a private network by connecting to a modem.

7. How do I know if my router is going bad?

Ans: Here are the few signs you will notice when your router is going bad.
*When you are resetting your modem very frequently. 
*When your internet connection often fails.
*Your internet connection is either too sluggish or too unstable.
*The modem is making a buzzing or humming noise.
*The modem’s LEDs do not illuminate.


Wrapping up, the lifespan of your modem is completely dependent on the way how you handle and maintain it. Additionally, you can even make your modem last longer by following the tips which are mentioned in the article instead of replacing it. However, if your modem is outdated and no longer supports your ISP then instead of continuing with the same device go ahead with a new one. Replacing an outmoded modem can help to improve your internet speed and browsing experience.  

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