How often should you replace your modem?

For many, the modem is a mysterious device that doesn’t really get much attention paid to it when you’re considering your home internet setup. But it’s just as important as the other components needed to get a good wifi signal.

And as your gateway to the internet, it’s important that you keep your modem up to date. But just how long should you wait before replacing your modem? Well, that depends on a few different things that we’re going to look a little deeper in to now.

How often should you replace your modem?

The answer is that you should begin to look at replacing your modem around 3 years after you’ve bought it. If it’s working as normal, then there’s no need to replace it yet. By 5 years of solid use, you’ll probably want to replace your modem, as it may have become outdated by this point.

However, this is typically the case when we’re talking about a router/modem combo. This is what most people mean when they wonder when they need to replace their modem, although that’s not really what a “modem” is.

If you’re not entirely sure of the difference, then check out this guide to the differences between modems and routers. In the majority of cases, this is going to be supplied by your internet service provider. In the UK, it’s very common for your to use a new router/modem to connect to Wi-fi.

Although the “Modem” and “Router” are often used interchangeably, they’re not the same thing. You connect your devices to your wireless router, which then connects to a modem to give you internet access. They’re often both wrapped up into one device, hence the terms being confused.

If you’re actually looking to replace your modem and not your router, then it’s unlikely you need to upgrade it. The truth is that with a modem alone, then you’re probably not talking about your typical home internet equipment.

In this case, you might not need get a new model for a long while, as often these kinds of modems can last much longer than this. It all depends on whether the modem is causing an issue or not. There are a couple of different telltale signs that you do need a new modem.

The first one is when your internet speeds start to decline, then you can potentially diagnose the cause as being your modem. Your modem will have a maximum speed capability that it supports, and if it’s very old, then it may act as a bottleneck on your home Wi-fi speed.

The second one is that it completely fails, or it’s made obsolete by your internet service provider. So you should know if it’s causing a problem, and if you need a new one. But let’s clarify whether you’re actually referring to a modem, router or a modem/router combination hub.

Do I need a modem?

It really depends on your home setup, and whether you already have a modem/router in place. In the vast majority of cases in the UK, you’re only going to need to worry about getting a router.

Why? Well, many of the hubs that people use across the UK are actually modems and routers. An example of this is the Virgin Media hub, which is both of these rolled up into one device.

So, if you’re with one of the major broadband providers here, then there’s a likelihood that you don’t need a modem.

Signs you need a new modem


As mentioned earlier, the likelihood that you need to replace a modem is very slim. They tend to be able to last for a long time, as they have a good build quality and are made with the future in mind.

If you’re sure that you’re using a modem in your set up, then there are some telltales signs that it might be time for you to replace it and get a new one in.

Slow internet – One way that many people know that they need to get a new modem is if your internet is running slow. For example, say your internet plan supports 100mbps speeds, but you can only get a fraction of this, then the modem may be the problem (not always, but sometimes). It can act as a bottleneck on your internet speed.
Connection troubles – Another key indicator that it’s time to change your modem is when you start to have problems with your internet connection itself. This could be that your internet stops working altogether, or it may just be that your internet drops out sometimes. Either way, this can be a indication that it’s time for a change.
Lights – One way that you can tell if you need to change your modem is the lights on the front of it. Depending on the model, the lights may turn on when you need to switch your modem to a newer model.
Won’t turn on – Finally, probably the most obvious sign that you’re going to need to change your modem is if you can’t get it to turn on whatsoever. Typically, you’ll want to try and reset it first, but often in this scenario you’re going to need a completely new modem.

Potential Ways to Fix your Modem

Before you go ahead and get yourself a new modem, then there might be some ways that you can fix it first. Give these a go and see if they help to resolve the problem.

The first thing that you should do with your modem is to unplug it or turn it off for a few minutes. This is typical for pretty much any devices in your household.
You should also go ahead and return your modem back to its factory settings. This might help to resolve your issue without you having the need to pick up a new one.
Make sure that the problem is with all of the devices in your household, and you’re not just having internet troubles with one device. This can ensure that the problem is definitely with the modem, and not with your phone or laptop.

What to look for in a new modem

If you’re thinking about getting a new model, then make sure that you consider these factors before buying one.

Make sure that you can’t get one from your internet service provider first. In many cases, they’ll actually loan you a router or modem to use if you’re looking for one to use in your own home. This way, you won’t have to pay out for a new one.

Also, make sure that you stick with the more trusted brands that are out there on the market. Typically you can look for any of the big tech brands here, including Netgear, who are known for their home internet products.

When you’re buying a new route or modem, then you should also consider how many devices you’ll want to connect to your wi-fi. If it’s more than 15 or 20, then it could pay to opt for a tri-band model, as this gives you two 5.0GHz network bands to connect to.


In conclusion, like many other tech products out there, eventually things can get a little outdated. Although there’s no urgent need to update your modem, you can definitely see an improvement in performance if your modem is more than 4 or 5 years old. If it is, it’s probably about time that you replaced it.

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About Jon

Hey, I'm Jon. I'm an engineer by trade, so it makes sense that I'm obsessed with anything technology related! On the weekends, you can find me playing around with my computers or fixing something around the house. Feel free to leave a comment if you want to get in touch.

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