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How to Know if You Need a New Modem

There are a number of symptoms that indicate a modem is malfunctioning

Electronic equipment that is operated more frequently and has a heavier thermal load tends to degrade faster than others. Modems fall into this category.

Will the modem fail?

Most people leave their modems off 24 hours a day, even when they’re sleeping. The modem is in constant communication with the ISP and handles the traffic between all the devices in your home that can automatically connect to the Internet. It can include mobile devices, smart home devices, etc.

This can cause the modem to heat up. This heat can quickly degrade the performance of the electronic components in the modem. Most modems show signs of failure before permanently shutting down.

Make sure to factory reset your router before troubleshooting. This will fix most modem problems. If not, the following troubleshooting tips can help you identify the faulty modem.

How do you know if your modem is faulty?

If your internet drops frequently or your modem restarts automatically, you may be dealing with a faulty modem. The following steps will help you determine if your modem is faulty and if it needs to be replaced before it breaks completely.

Your internet speed has dropped dramatically. This is usually one of the first signs that your modem is about to fail. First, call your ISP and confirm what your account upload and download transfer rates should be. Then connect an ethernet cable from your computer to the numbered network port on the modem. Turn off Wi-Fi on your computer to make sure you are connected to the Internet via Ethernet.Open Google search and type “speed test” and select Speed ​​test execution† If the resulting upload and download speeds are much lower than what you should be getting, this may indicate a faulty modem.

Overheating is a common sign that a modem isn’t cooling properly, as faulty electrical components tend to get hotter. To test if this is happening, leave the modem on for at least a full day. Then place your hand on the side of the modem. If it’s too hot to touch, your modem may be faulty and it’s time to replace it.

Not enough space around the modem can also cause it to overheat. So before doing this “touch test” make sure you run the modem for a while with enough space around it for proper cooling.

Every modem has utilities to solve management problems. These usually contain error logs. Another sign of a serious modem problem is frequent serious errors in the error log. Access this log by logging into the modem as an administrator and entering the advanced management area.Find a log either error log in the navigation menu. If you’re seeing a long list of critical errors every day, your modem’s software or hardware is faulty.

screenshot of modem event log

Check the lights on the modem. Each light on a modem has an important function. These lights indicate whether the modem is connected to an ISP, broadcasting as a Wi-Fi network (if it’s also serving as a router), and transmitting data. If the top LED labeled “Cable,” “Cable Link,” or “WAN” (“DSL” or “Telephone” for DSL modems) doesn’t light up, but your ISP reports that the connection looks good, your modem is defective . If the data transfer light (usually labeled “Activity,” “Data,” or “PC Link”) doesn’t flash even when using the Internet, this may indicate that your modem is beginning to fail.

Modem light picture

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Frequently rebooting a modem on its own is a common sign that it’s not in optimal shape. Some things to check before replacing a modem include a loose power connection or a faulty power adapter, a poor input cable (coax) connection from the wall, overheating (as above), or overpowering the modem.

Modem power light image

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If your modem is not responding and all lights are on, your modem is not working. Symptoms of an unresponsive modem include:

  • No internet access when connected via Wi-Fi or Ethernet cable
  • Can’t connect to WiFi (using dual modem/router)
  • Unable to connect to modem using default gateway IP address

router power light off

Rosario Bergamasco/EyeEm\Getty Images

Always try to unplug the power cord, wait 60 seconds and plug it back in again. If the same unresponsive behavior persists after rebooting, it’s time to replace the modem.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the difference between a modem and a router?

    To understand the difference between modems and routers, remember that modems connect directly to the Internet, while routers connect other devices to Wi-Fi. The modem connects to the ISP and converts the signal into a common signal that your computer can use. The router connects to the modem and creates a private network.

  • How to reset the modem?

    To factory reset your modem, which will delete all your wireless settings and configurations, press the button reboot The buttons are usually located on the back or side of the device. For a less invasive troubleshooting step, reset or reset the modem: unplug the hardware, wait 30 seconds, then plug it back in.

  • How to connect the router to the modem?

    To connect the router to the modem, use the coaxial cable to plug the modem into an electrical outlet, then plug the included ethernet cable into the router’s WAN/Uplink port. Connect the other end of the Ethernet cable to the modem, then connect the power cord to the modem and router.

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How to Know if You Need a New Modem

There are a lot of symptoms to indicate a bad modem

Electronic devices that run more often and have a heavier thermal load tend to degrade faster than others. Modems fall into this category.

Can a Modem Go Bad?

Most people leave modems running 24 hours a day, even when they’re sleeping. The modem constantly communicates with the ISP and handles traffic between any device in your home that may automatically connect to the internet. It may include mobile devices, smart home devices, and more.

Because of this, the modem runs hot. That heat quickly degrades the electronic components inside the modem. Most modems show failure signs before they shut down for good.

Before you do any troubleshooting, make sure to reset your router to factory defaults. Doing this resolves most modem problems. If it doesn’t, then the troubleshooting tips below will help you identify a bad modem.
How to Tell if Your Modem Is Bad

If your internet drops out often, or your modem automatically restarts itself, you could be facing a failing modem. The following steps will help you identify if your modem is failing and whether you should replace it before it dies entirely.

Your internet is slowing down dramatically. It’s usually one of the first signs your modem may be on the way out. First, call your ISP and confirm what your account’s download and upload transfer rates should be. Next, connect an ethernet cable from your computer to a numbered network port on the modem. Turn off Wi-Fi on your computer to ensure you’re connecting to the internet via ethernet. Open Google Search and type “internet speed test,” and select Run Speed Test. If the resulting download and upload speeds are far below what you should be getting, this may indicate a failing modem.

Overheating is a common sign your modem can no longer cool properly as failing electrical components tend to heat up more. To test if this is happening, leave your modem running for at least a full day. Then, place your bare hand on the side of the modem. If it’s too hot to touch, your modem could be failing, and it’s time to replace it.

Not having enough space around your modem could also lead to overheating. So before doing this “touch test,” make sure you leave the modem running for a while with plenty of space around it for proper cooling.

Every modem features administrative troubleshooting tools. These usually include an errors log. Another sign of severe modem problems is frequent critical errors in the errors log. Access this log by logging into your modem as administrator and browsing to the advanced administration section. Look for an Event Log or Error Log in the navigation menu. If you see a long list of critical errors every day, it’s a sign either the modem software or hardware is failing.

Check your modem lights. Modem lights each have a vital function. These lights tell you if the modem is connected to the ISP, transmitting as a Wi-Fi network (if it also serves as a router), and sending data. If the top light labeled “Cable,” “Cable Link,” or “WAN” (“DSL” or “Phone” for a DSL modem) does not light up, but your ISP tells you the connection looks fine, your modem could be faulty. When the data transfer light (usually labeled “Activity,” “Data,” or “PC Link”) is not flashing even when you’re using the internet, this can indicate the modem is starting to fail.

TolgaMadan\Getty Images

The modem frequently resetting on its own is a common sign it’s not in top shape. Some things to check before replacing your modem include a loose power connection or faulty power adapter, a bad incoming cable connection (coax cable) from the wall, overheating (as mentioned above), or an overworked modem.

Jens Domschky\Getty Images

If your modem doesn’t respond and all lights are on, this is a sign your modem is dead. The symptoms of a non-responsive modem include:

No internet access when you connect via Wi-Fi or with an ethernet cable
Inability to connect to Wi-Fi (if it’s a dual modem/router)
Inability to connect to the modem using the default gateway IP address
Rosario Bergamasco / EyeEm\Getty Images
Always try unplugging the modem, waiting a full 60 seconds, and then plug the modem back in. If the same unresponsive behavior continues after the restart, it’s time to replace the modem.

FAQ

What’s the difference between a modem and a router?
To understand how modems and routers differ, keep in mind that modems connect directly to the internet, while routers connect other devices to Wi-Fi. Modems connect to an ISP and convert its signal into a universal one your computer can use. A router connects to a modem and creates a private network.

How do I reset a modem?
To factory reset your modem, which removes all its wireless settings and configurations, press the Reset button that’s usually located on the back or side of the device. For a less drastic troubleshooting step, reboot or restart the modem: Unplug the hardware, wait 30 seconds, then plug it back in.

How do I connect a router to a modem?
To connect a router to a modem, connect your modem to the wall outlet via a coaxial cable, and then plug the included Ethernet cable into the router’s WAN/uplink port. Plug the other end of the Ethernet cable into the modem, then plug in the modem’s and router’s power cords.

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