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I've been having problems with my internet connection over the past weeks (intermittent disconnections, slow transfers, etc), and my provider keeps telling me that the problem is not on their end.

I have cablemodem with a wifi router (this router was not provided by them).

The router is quite old (DIR-300), so I'm starting to wonder if it could be the issue and if I should replace it.

Is it possible that it is the cause? Can they become so outdated that they cause intermittent interruptions of service?

If I reset the modem and the router, they work fine for a few hours, but the problems starts again after a while.

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Yeah, I've had them fail. It was a "hard" failure, though. And these days old routers are apt to have trouble with the new IPv6 addresses -- even if theoretically designed to handle them some bugs are likely. But note that if the problem is only with wireless then it could be some sort of interference problem. –  Daniel R Hicks Oct 2 '12 at 2:48
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I usually get a new router every 2-3 years, due to random failures. –  Mike Christiansen Oct 2 '12 at 6:50
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7 Answers 7

up vote 30 down vote accepted

Yes.

In general, routers can and do fail. The primary cause of failure for consumer grade equipment is heat stress. Most consumer grade hardware runs far too hot and have respectively poor air cirulation compared to their ventilation needs.

Long-term exposure to heat causes various components to degrade/fail and manifests itself as "intermittent" problems. In general, consumer grade hardware is not as robustly made as commercial or enterprise hardware. But all physical devices are subject to physical effects.

It's not uncommon for consumer grade devices to fail within a few years due to heat or vibration issues. Routers stuck near windows (argh! the sun!), placed on the floor (dust!), or jammed into a bookcase (no air flow) are especially prone to failures. Contrast that with commercial grade devices which are often still working for 10 or more years after their first deployment.

Most cable modems have either an ethernet port or WiFi ability. To isolate the cause of your network problems, you should consider bypassing your router and plugging your PC/laptop directly into the cable modem to see if whether or not you experience the same problems.

Of course, bypassing the router means you bypass the router's firewall protection and NAT abilities so take due precautions on your computer.

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I have constated the same failures/overheating among all the consumer-grade routers i have ever bought, be them low-end Netgear or high-end Linksys. –  Kwaio Oct 1 '13 at 7:09
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A (possibly) a good example of the Second Law of Thermodynamics:

«Any transformation of a thermodynamic system is carried out with increase in entropy including overall entropy of the system and the external environment.»

You wrote:

If I reset the modem and the router, they work fine for a few hours, but the problems start again after a while.

This may be an overheat problem or the overheat is the symptom...

The easiest way to check if the router is Out of Service or near to this inevitable state, you may try with another one temporary (from a friend for example). If this solved the Internet connection problems, you have the answer...

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Entry level D-Link Routers, and older d-link routers are not known to be very stable. They were marginal devices years ago, and they are certainly not appropriate for today's general use with many computers and smartphones connected to fast (>15mbps) broadband.

To answer your question specifically, I worked for an ISP that had D-Link products. While some were decent, if unspectacular, they began failing in large bunches 3-5 years after they were put in use.

As a general rule, if a router needs to be restarted more than once a month, junk it.

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I am in agreement with all comments that I read about heat - poor ventilation design, or poor ventilation on the end-user's part. However, what usually leads to many of what Joan complains about, is simply the newer and higher speeds now capable and whether your router can handle them. I had to 'put down' a perfectly good Netgear wired-only router that was like yours about 3 years old - my provider was trying to offer me 15MBs download speeds and I could only manage 7.5MBs max - Dated hardware - Up until recently, my new Netgear dual frequency wired/wireless router just flies and again so do I.

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I had a similar issue with a DIR-300. From my experiments I assume, that it has issues with portscanners even with the latest firmware.

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Try replacing the power supply before you get a new router. In my experience they fail about 3-4 times as often as the routers themselves.

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It has all its lights turned on and works for a while, if there was a problem with the power supply, would this happen? –  jmfsg Oct 2 '12 at 4:50
    
Replacing the power supply may be more expensive than a new router. Consumer grade electronics are cheap nowadays. –  Mike Christiansen Oct 2 '12 at 6:49
    
JQAn, Yes. I think is has to do with overheating, but I'm not sure. If you have a wall wart with the same specifications it's easy to verify. –  Chris Nava Oct 3 '12 at 1:33
    
Mike, True. I've spared myself buying a few routers because I save wall warts when I dispose of old hardware and have ready spares when one dies. If your options are buy a new power supply or buy a router for about the same amount, that math is easy. ;-) –  Chris Nava Oct 3 '12 at 1:35
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Of course if you have to reset your router more oftenly, just consider getting a new one. Mine was a Linksys wireless router and my town has temperatures above 40 degrees so it failed so many times.

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