How Long Do Modems Last & When to Replace Them? [2023 Guide]

Georgi Karaivanov
Georgi Karaivanov

Updated · Feb 27, 2023


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Modems are very important devices in this day and age since they allow us to go online and use all modern amenities requiring an internet connection.

So, you might be thinking: “How long do modems last?” since you want to have the best speeds and features for the ultimate online experience.

Well, depending on the quality of your modem, it may serve you well for up to 8–10 years, provided you got a top-of-the-line product.

Below we go over the topic in detail!

What Is the Average Lifespan of a Modem?

While most mid-range modems last between 4 to 7 years, premium models can run for as long as a decade. That said, you should never want to run the same modem for such a long time because you will miss out on many ISP improvements.

After all, the world is expected to produce 463 exabytes of data per day by 2025, and you’ll need a rather fast and efficient internet connection to stay ahead of the curve.

For that reason, 4 to 5 years is the optimal rate for replacing your modem, provided your ISP doesn’t introduce certain improvements that require you to get a new model.

In either case, always try to avoid low-quality, cheaper modems since they will not last as long, have a flimsy build, and most likely not work as they should.

Note: Do not mistake ‘modem’ for ‘router’ as the latter connects to your modem and serves to route (thus the name) your devices to each other, either via cables or via Wi-Fi.

How Do You Know if Your Modem Needs Replacing?

To ensure optimal internet speeds at all times, be on the lookout for the following warning signs that your modem is dying or has become obsolete:

1. Degraded speeds and connection stability

The most obvious sign of a failing modem is affected internet speeds and connection quality. buffering, interruptions, and slower-than-usual downloads all indicate that your modem is nearing its end, and you should be replacing it.

However, before you go out and buy a new one, contact your ISP to inquire whether or not your provider is at fault for your slower speeds. Even if they are not, they may provide you with a replacement, so you don’t have to splurge for a new one.

Note: You can also try to improve your Wi-Fi speed on your own!

2. Your modem is overheating

Over time, modems gather dust, experience power surges, and their electronics start to break down slowly, all of which contribute to their overall wear and tear.

Electronic devices operating under such conditions slowly degrade and start producing an increasing amount of heat—a sign that they may break down completely.

Soon thereafter, you might notice your modem’s lights have stopped working, your internet connection has started going down, or your modem simply doesn’t want to switch on, prompting you to reset them to get them going again.

3. Missing out on new features

Nobody can keep pace with modern technology as it changes at a blistering pace, so your modem may become outdated earlier than you expected.

For instance, your ISP may start offering VoIP services, which require a special modem with an eMTA adapter that transforms digital signals into analog output. Or maybe your provider has boosted its speeds, but you are still using an older modem that cannot handle the new bandwidth, so you are basically wasting a huge benefit.

Thus, to ensure you have an adequate modem, check on your ISP’s offering now and then to see whether or not they are offering any services that you are not using.

4. You’ve changed to another ISP

Some modems are not universal and will only work with specific internet providers. If you own one such modem, you may have to replace it when changing ISPs.

Also, your new provider may offer newer internet technologies, such as fiber optic, which requires a special type of modem to connect to the internet. Therefore, if you are moving from a DSL or cable internet connection, you will definitely need a new modem.

In any case, if you are unsure whether or not you can reuse your old modem, you can always check your new ISP’s compatible modem list or call them for the info.

Note: Some, if not most, ISPs will provide you with a modem that can handle everything they offer as part of their service.

Check out the 7 Best Internet Options for Rural Areas

How to Make Your Modem Last Longer?

To extend the lifespan of your modem, you only have to follow a few sound rules:

  • Use a surge protector—modems are vulnerable to power surges due to the intricacy of their internal build; thus, you should always connect your modem to a surge protector to avoid damage from voltage spikes;
  • Unplug it when not in use—while unplugging your modem does not significantly prolong its lifespan, it can’t hurt either; in any case, you should definitely plug it off if you are going to be away from home for a while;
  • Place it in a safe place—since modems are not sealed, and they even have perforated tops for cooling purposes, you should place it in a dust-free, well-ventilated area that will also be out of reach of your pets and children;
  • Dust it regularly—regardless of where you place your modem, you will still have to clean it occasionally to keep it from overheating due to dust buildup.

Keeping in mind all of the above, the best place for your modem is in an open corner, near a window, and in an elevated location.


The bottom line is: you must ensure your modem is always up-to-date and working optimally, as the world of today is happening online, and we need internet access at all times. 

That said, you should replace your modem when your ISP introduces new features or faster speeds instead of waiting for it to break down. Therefore, buying an expensive modem is not the best option if you are just going to replace it sooner than expected.


Will buying a new modem increase my internet speed?

Depends on whether or not your ISP is providing you with faster speeds than what your current modem can handle. In such cases, the answer is: yes!

Should I rent my modem from my ISP?

Renting your modem from your ISP is the better alternative since they will always send you a modem that matches your plan and has the latest features they offer.

What’s the point of multi-port modems?

Some modems also include a routing function, so they include several LAN ports that allow you to connect all your local devices to your modem instead of purchasing a router.

How often should you replace a modem?

As a rule of thumb, instead of wondering: “How long do modems last?”, you should replace yours whenever you are unable to use a recently added ISP functionality.


Georgi Karaivanov

Georgi Karaivanov

My fascination with technology began from quite an early age thanks to computers and video games. Nowadays, I love anything related to music production and astronomy. Coincidentally (or is it?), both of those have a great deal to do with tech. Honestly, most of the stuff that can be accomplished with modern electronics kind of seems like magic to me. This is why I feel this strong need to constantly learn more about it and talk about it, almost to the detriment of others.

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