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Beyond the reboot: How to care for your router

by | Mar 21, 2024

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Learn how often should you reboot your router

Your router is an integral and hard-working part of your network. We have some tips for router care and maintenance to keep it running in peak condition. In this article, we’ll look closely at what a router is, what it does, how to keep it running in and keep you connected.

What is a router anyway?

Did you know that your router is a computer? Just like your smartphone, tablet, or laptop, your router has a central processor, memory, and an operating system. With routers typically running 24/7, we place more demand on them than on most other personal electronics. This makes routine router care all that much more important.

But let’s back up a step. What’s a router anyway, and is it the same as a modem?

A router creates a private wireless network and connects your devices to the internet. A router does not have a direct connection to the internet; you need a modem to do that.

A modem converts the signal from your internet service provider (ISP) into a format that your router or devices can understand, and vice versa. A modem does not create a wireless network; you need a router to do that.

Many people use the two terms interchangeably because these days their functions are often combined into one piece of equipment. With CenturyLink, our modem/router combo is called a gateway, but we often call it just a router or just a modem, because these are the terms that are familiar to most users.

Enhance router performance with regular router care

Treating your wireless router as the computing workhorse it is can help you understand the importance of regular router care. Like any computer, routers can get flaky or buggy if they are left on for too long, if they overheat, or if the operating system or firmware gets out of date. To keep your router performance in top form, it’s important to do the following:

  • Replace your router every 3-5 years
  • Place your router in an area away from heat sources and has decent circulation to prevent overheating
  • Reboot your router following an outage or if performance becomes spotty
  • Keep your router’s firmware updated. In most cases this happens automatically.

Router care with a reboot

One of the simplest and most effective ways to fix the occasional connection issue is to reboot or restart your router. This means turning it off and then back on again, either manually or remotely. Rebooting your router can clear up temporary glitches, free up memory, complete any firmware updates that have been downloaded, and refresh your connection.

To reboot your router manually, simply unplug it from the power source, wait for about 30 seconds, and plug it back in. Alternatively, some providers allow you to reboot from the app.

Note that a reboot is different from a full factory reset, which wipes all settings and configuration and returns the router to its out-of-the-box state. You can try resetting yourself in the case of severe router malfunction, but be cautious. It’s best to do this with support from a technician or networking expert. Simply rebooting your router doesn’t affect your settings or preferences, such as your WiFi name, password, or security mode.

When you should reboot your router

We’re used to rebooting our phones and computers. If you’re having connection or performance problems with just one device, then the first thing to do is restart that device. But if there’s a more wide-spread connection issue, such as sluggish browsing or weak WiFi across multiple devices, then it’s a good idea to reboot your router and refresh the entire network connection.

This is sometimes called a “power-cycle.” Rebooting your router cleans out the device’s short-term memory (also called “cache”) to keep it running smoothly. It also allows the router to re-select the least crowded channel for each frequency, which means a stronger connection to your devices.

If you’re having occasional issues with your WiFi network dropping or inconsistent internet speeds, you might consider rebooting your router on a regular basis. But some problems won’t be fixed by rebooting, so if you’re seeing persistent connection problems, it may be time to replace your router with a high-performing new model.

When it’s time to replace your router

Like your smartphone and other devices you use daily, your modem needs to be replaced as technology ages and evolves. A new router can make a huge difference in your internet speed and performance.

If your router is more than five years old, it’s time to embrace the adage “out with the old, in with the new” and consider upgrading to a newer model. Using older modem and router equipment means you’re not getting the best connection you can. This is because outdated technology and hardware specifications are often incompatible with the latest devices.

You can head over to our support center to look up your current router and find out whether you might be eligible for an upgrade.

Look up your CenturyLink router

For assistance with your service, please visit our support center for self-help options or to connect with our customer service team.

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