Time for a Router Upgrade?
In the past two years, many people have been forced to work and learn remotely, giving precedence to having a well-working router in every home. Zoom, Slack, and Google Classroom have taken on new importance, while apps like Netflix, Disney+, and Xbox Live are keeping us entertained. We’re here to help you know when it’s time to upgrade, and how to make the best purchase decision for your home.
A router may be one of the most essential gadgets you own — but often it gets set out of sight and is therefore out of mind. It’s an understandable blind spot. Between the blinking lights, the ceaseless jargon and the oft-misleading speed claims, routers can be mystifying. But in our current age of doing everything at home — working, learning, socializing — having a good router running your network traffic is as essential as ever.
In general, experts recommend upgrading your router at least every five years. Make that every two to three years if you use lots of smart home gadgets, or if you make a regular habit of buying the latest laptops, phones and other primary Wi-Fi devices.
A good router should be able to take full advantage of whatever internet speeds you’re paying for — but if your network seems more sluggish than you’d expect, you can take some steps to be sure that your router is, indeed, the culprit.
Here are a few troubleshooting tips to try before shopping for a new router.
A simple reboot: Start with the obvious and unplug your router, then plug it back in. It is also recommended to reboot your wireless devices such as phones, laptops, and smart TVs.
Speed tests: Try testing in various spots around your home using a few different devices. One test is the Ookla speed test, which is fast, free, reliable and easy to use — you can run it in your browser (https://www.speedtest.net) or you can download Ookla’s speed-testing app to your Android or iOS device, or even to an Apple TV. Whatever devices you use, those results should give you a clearer sense of whether the problem is tied to a specific client device or location in your home, or whether it’s a bigger issue affecting everything.
Move and clean the router: Try repositioning the router to a spot that’s more open and central within your home, preferably in a location that’s as high as possible. Adjusting the angle of the antennas might help boost the signal to specific spots around the house. You can also clean the ports in the back and the airflow vents with a can of compressed air to break through dust build-up.
If none of the above improved the situation, you probably need a new router.
Wi-Fi 6: Router technology is always improving, and there have been significant advances with the arrival of Wi-Fi 6. Wi-Fi 6 is better suited for dense, crowded environments where lots of devices are competing for bandwidth.
Mesh Router: Is your connection strong in some places throughout your home, but weak or nonexistent in others? If so, upgrading to a mesh router, which uses multiple devices to extend the range of your network and spread a steadier signal throughout your entire home, might be one of the most meaningful tech upgrades you can buy into. With the right mesh device system and a strategic access point (or points), you can enjoy total wireless coverage and speeds that are about as fast as your network is capable of through the majority, or entirety, of your home, even with several connected devices.
Some things ask yourself when looking for a new router:
• How much do I want to spend?
• Does the router support the internet speed you have?
• Do you need a stand along or a mesh router system?
If you have any questions, contact your internet provider for recommendations.