How to Determine if a Router Is Failing

By Ed Oswald

Routers can fail suddenly and without warning.
i Thomas Northcut/Photodisc/Getty Images

Although your router should give you years of trouble-free service, it will not last forever. Dust, use and wear all contribute to the demise of this crucial piece of your business network's setup. Troubleshooting the router is a good idea, as some issues can appear like router failure, but are actually something else.

False Alarms

Check the network cables between the router and the modem, and the router and your computer if you use a wired connection. Connect the modem directly to your computer and see if that fixes your connectivity issues. Some websites can also cause problems -- for example, Google Maps can freeze Internet connections on Windows PCs because the site connects to multiple servers, and Windows throttles multiple Internet connections from the same PC as a safety precaution.

Sudden Loss of Connectivity

Bad routers typically experience a sudden loss of connectivity: your connection may work fine, and then suddenly cut out. This can occur suddenly or over a period of a few days where the network connection becomes increasingly unstable. The lights on the front of the router may still be illuminated but show no activity, or may not be on at all. Resetting the router in these cases can usually restore connectivity.

Bad Port or Wireless Failure

A less likely issue is a bad port or failure of the router’s wireless features. If it appears that other devices connected to the router are working properly, investigate the individual device’s connection to the router. If the device is connected via an Ethernet cable, try another port; if it is connected wirelessly, try connecting the device via an Ethernet cable.


If your router begins to show any of these symptoms and the suggested remedies don’t work, replace the router as soon as possible. Routers are designed for long-term continuous service, so the first sign of trouble is typically a sign that the router is about to die. Modern routers are easy to swap out, as the manufacturers include applications that automatically set the router up for you.

Failure Prevention

After replacing your old router, follow good practices to make sure your next one lasts longer. Keep the router off the ground and away from dust. Vibrations can also cause premature failure, so keep it away from PCs and other objects that vibrate during operation. Finally, don’t shut off the router unless it’s to reset it to fix some sort of problem. Routers are designed for continuous service, so there’s no reason to turn them off.