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Router buying guide
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Security & privacy

Security tip: 5 reasons you need to replace your router now

Your router is responsible for sending Wi-Fi signals to your phone, laptop, smart TV, security cameras and more. This makes you especially vulnerable if your router is hacked. Yes, that can happen.

Chinese threat actors are going after routers, telephone networks and online storage and using their combined power to target critical and military targets, steal login credentials and hijack banking information. Tap or click here to secure your home network.

Securing your router is one of the most important steps to keeping hackers out. But there’s a limit to what your old router can do, no matter how well you take care of it. Do you need a new router? Read on to find out.

1. How secure is your router?

You know the adage, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Well, this doesn’t usually apply to tech, especially when it comes to cybersecurity. Your router may be doing a fine job keeping you connected to the internet, but is it keeping you safe?

The latest security standard is WPA-3, released in 2018. If you’re still using a router that uses WPA-2 encryption, it’s time to switch.

You can run an encryption check on your router. Go to your router’s admin menu. Under the Wireless or Security menu, you’ll see the encryption status. If you have an older router, select one that starts with WPA3. If your router is not WPA3 compatible, WPA2-PSK AES is the next most secure option. Still, you should upgrade as soon as you can.

RELATED: Free check to see if your router has been hacked by criminals

2. Future-proofing your network

Wi-Fi 6 significantly improves over the Wi-Fi 5 routers most people still use. You get improvements in two critical categories: speed and range. Wi-Fi 6 routers are a considerable upgrade compared to old technology and are no longer overly expensive or hard to find.

If you have a lot of connected technology, such as your phone, computer, smart TV and smart home devices, you put a lot of strain on your network. Wi-Fi 6 can handle as many as 50 devices or more. Compare that to the 10-device limit of Wi-Fi 5.

There’s something even better than Wi-Fi 6, though not many devices can utilize it yet. Wi-Fi 6 uses the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands, while Wi-Fi 6e operates on the 6 GHz band. You’ll find this tech built into many mesh networks, which we’ll get into below.

RELATED: Where to put your router for better speeds

3. Upgrade to a mesh network

If there’s one place you should have a consistent, speedy network, it’s your home. From streaming music and movies to attending virtual classes, meetings and work, this is where you want a fast, reliable signal. A single router works fine if you live in a small apartment, but what about multiple rooms and floors?

Mesh networks are becoming more popular and affordable. Rather than rely on just one router, a mesh network adds satellite modules around your home, blanketing the area with coverage.

These systems usually come in sets of two or more separate units that work together to envelop your property with Wi-Fi coverage. As far as your gadgets are concerned, the Wi-Fi mesh is one big continuous network that eliminates poor coverage, dead spots and buffering.

Got a big place and lots of connected gadgets? Tap or click here for a mesh router that covers up to 5,500 square feet and 150 devices!

4. Check out the band

Just how old is your router? If it only supports 2.4 GHz frequencies, it’s a dinosaur that dates back to the early days of Wi-Fi.

Routers come in three flavors:

  • Single-band routers only utilize the 2.4 GHz band and one wireless signal.
  • Dual-band routers use two bands — 2.4 and 5 GHz — to transmit two simultaneous wireless signals, providing better performance.
  • Tri-band routers typically have 2.4 and 5 GHz bands and an additional 5 or 6 GHz band to transmit three total wireless signals.

If you have a single-band router, you’re long overdue for an upgrade. If you live alone and use two or three connected devices, you can get a dual-band router that supports 2.4 and 5 GHz.

If you and your family use many connected devices, you’re better off going for a tri-band router that supports three signals.

The best you can do is a tri-band router that supports all three frequencies: 2.4, 5 and 6 GHz. Now you’re in Wi-Fi 6e territory. Don’t expect these devices to come cheap.

5. How to choose a new router

Don’t struggle with finding the best router. We’ll do the heavy lifting for you! Take our patented router quiz. Answer a few questions and our tech experts will recommend the best router for your home that gives you the best security and fastest speeds.

This is a must if your connection is spotty and your router isn’t equipped with the latest security standards. Tap or click here to take our quick router-finder quiz.

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