I'll be honest: Cable modems aren't glamorous technology. A technician probably set it up for you when you started your cable plan and you haven't thought about it since.
It's easy to forget how important, and impressive, your cable modem actually is. It handles your Internet traffic 24/7 for years, usually without a hiccup. Some modems even pull double duty as your wireless router.
Beyond that, there is another good reason to occasionally think about your cable modem. If it's more than a few years old, you might not be getting the Internet download speeds you're paying for.
Cable companies have been busy upgrading their networks for faster speeds. These faster speeds require faster cable modems.
The newest standard for cable modems is DOCSIS 3 - although DOCSIS 3.1 is coming soon. DOCSIS 3 can achieve download data rates of 160 Mbps or better - four times faster than DOCSIS 2.
Before you run out and grab a new modem, check with your cable provider to see if it has upgraded your network to the DOCSIS 3 standard. If it hasn't gotten around to your neighborhood yet, there's no urgency to upgrade.
There's also no rush to upgrade if you're happy with a basic low-speed plan. The exception is if you have a really old DOCSIS 1.1 modem. In addition to boosting your transfer rates, a newer modem could clear up any connection issues you've been experiencing. Many cable companies are phasing out DOCSIS 1.1 modems anyway.