As broadband Internet connectivity and small networks have become more prevalent, network devices such as wireless routers have become mainstays in both homes and small businesses. No official statistics exist to determine how long a router lasts, but your average home or small business router should last several years before needing to be replaced.
Evolving technologies may render your router obsolete before its physical components wear down. For example, multiple wireless networking standards have evolved from the 802.11b in 2000 to 802.11g standard in 2003 to the 802.11n standard in 2009.
If kept properly in an optimum computing environment, a hardware router can continue to function well physically for several years. To prolong your router's physical lifespan, place your router in an area that is out of direct sunlight, free of moisture and not prone to temperature extremes. If your router includes wired ports, avoid taking cables in and out of the the ports too often as this can cause premature wear on the ports.
The more heavily a router is used, the more prone it will be to internal system components wearing out due to overheating. To avoid overheating, make sure that your router allows for adequate circulation to help prevent the router components from overheating and wearing out.
Upgrade your router if it is aging or has become obsolete. Replace your router if it shows any physical damage, including any wearing or weakness, such as loose ports or frayed power cords. Connectivity issues, such as dropped network connections either on the wireless network or on a wired port that looks physically fine, can be the sign of a deteriorating router. When upgrading your network router, contact your local waste management service to confirm your local e-waste disposal options.