Flat out, your modem is most likely to die before your computer does. The average life expectancy is about 2-4 years, while modems can last anywhere from two to ten times that long if they are well cared for (and not subject to power surges or lightning strikes). Vendors like Motorola and US Robotics sell modems guaranteed to work with their respective ISPs for two years. If they stop working within the first two years, you’re entitled to a free replacement.
So, your modem will probably last longer than your ISP. Of course, you’ll have to buy a new modem if your ISP switches from DSL or dial-up to cable or fiber optic. The good news is that this won’t be a problem for you anytime soon since almost 95% of Americans still have only one choice when it comes to high-speed Internet.
What causes modem failure?
Over time, your modem will slowly get slower and more error-prone, especially if you download large amounts of data or play online games. They slow down because the modem’s memory (which stores all your settings) fills up unnecessary information that it won’t need again until you restart your computer. This unnecessary information takes up space otherwise used for data transferring, which is why you may notice a noticeable difference in download speed.
How to keep your modem running for longer?
The best way to make your modem last longer is to do some housekeeping on it every once and a while. The best time to do this is when you are not in the middle of downloading something or playing an online game. Here are some steps to follow to get your modem back up and running at full speed.
- If you can access your modem through a web browser, go into its configuration page by typing 192.168. (your default gateway should be .1. If it isn’t, the asterisks represent the number of zeros in whatever number exists between them).
- Once you get there, try deleting everything except your general settings like language preferences and other things like sleep timers for how long it waits before sleep mode starts or after its finished, bandwidth settings (especially if you don’t use any plug-ins), basically anything that isn’t integral to transferring information.
- You can access a detailed version of your modem’s drivers by going into the properties page of the device in network connections and clicking on the Details tab. Suppose you see anything that says Microsoft or Broadcom delete it. In that case, these are known modem viruses, and they clog up your modem’s memory with junk files that won’t disappear until it’s finished filling up your modem’s memory.
- In addition to deleting unnecessary items from here, try shutting down all web browser windows you have open. Make sure you save off any work if you need to because some browsers will crash if their programs aren’t running. This is how I got mine back, and it has worked since.
When should you replace your modem? What are the warning signs?
While your modem will gradually start getting slower over time, there are some telltale signs that you should get a new one before it gets too bad. The most obvious sign is if your modem isn’t working at all or doesn’t show up when you turn on your computer whatsoever. If this happens to you, don’t panic, the easiest way to fix the problem is by restarting your computer and checking again.
What should you do if your modem isn’t working?
Try going into safe mode if restarting doesn’t work (pressing F8 while starting your computer). Safe mode boots up your computer with a minimal set of programs and drivers. If it works there, you know that one or more of your deleted items keeps your modem from working correctly.
Should you get a new modem?
This depends on how much use you get out of it, and some people find that they don’t need to replace their modems as long as they keep them cleaned out regularly. However, if you often download large files or play online games, I would recommend getting a new modem every year. Remember to make sure you’re saving off any work before doing anything, especially on a web browser, because if it’s left open for too long, it will shut down even though the program is still running.
What are gateways?
Other factors to consider might be unique to modem/router combos, despite many reasons for replacing a modem. As a result of its router characteristics, you’re more likely to need to replace a gateway than a standalone modem. Signal strength is another factor that influences a gateway’s lifespan. Over time, the strength of the signal weakens. Gateways have a shorter lifespan than traditional modems because of this factor.
A modem can last up to seven years, while a gateway lasts for about four years. Gateways are less likely to be updated as often as modems, so they are more likely to need replacing. Using a gateway has several advantages, but you should monitor its activity to find out when it’s time to replace it.
Modems are reliable technologies. However, as technology advances, older models may not be suited for high-speed Internet. You should consider replacing your modem or gateway if you begin experiencing problems. Gateways typically last between three and four years, while modems usually last four to seven years. It depends on how well your modem handles it over time, as well as the quality of your Internet connection.
Even though many modem manufacturers, internet service providers, and online resources recommend replacing your devices earlier than necessary, keeping them for at least four years might be more convenient for you. You should monitor your modem to avoid having to replace it too soon.