• Guest, The rules for the P & N subforum have been updated to prohibit "ad hominem" or personal attacks against other posters. See the full details in the post "Politics and News Rules & Guidelines."

Question How often does one replace their cable modem?

gizbug

Platinum Member
May 14, 2001
2,620
0
76
Had a Xfinity tech come out, and he mentioned to me its good practice to replace a cable modem every 2-3 yrs. He mentioned since they are on all the time, and with all the fast speeds these days (I have a Netgear CM1000 Docis 3.1, 2 1/2 yrs old), that one should replace the modems every 2-3 yrs. He said Xfinity even is proactive on it, and will swap out modems after 1 year of use.

Anyone ever hear this before? New to me....
 

UsandThem

Elite Member
Super Moderator
May 4, 2000
14,953
5,642
146
Anyone ever hear this before? New to me....
Not at all.

Generally people only replace them when they quit working, or the ISP no longer supports them due to network / speed updates.

He mentioned since they are on all the time, and with all the fast speeds these days (I have a Netgear CM1000 Docis 3.1, 2 1/2 yrs old), that one should replace the modems every 2-3 yrs
If that were true, then people would need to replace things like routers or any other component that was always on. I think the tech was just blowing smoke out of their......well, "you know what". :cool:
 
  • Like
Reactions: aigomorla

VirtualLarry

No Lifer
Aug 25, 2001
51,977
6,908
126
It's actually not THAT unusual. I generally have a 3-5 year replacement cycle for PSUs and HDDs. (Although, that applied to more mediocre PSUs, I've got an EVGA G1+ 650W in there now, with a 10-year warranty, so I won't plan on replacing that one til 2029.)

Cable modems, generally work until they start flaking out, or the cable network no longer supports them. Most people, ignore their cable modems, requiring ISPs to send notice to the user to bring them in to be replaced. But wifi and cable modem standards have been changing fairly rapidly the last three years, so I would personally think a 3-year replacement cycle, wouldn't be a half-bad idea. Painless, anyways, if you're renting it, to replace every year or two, just to take advantage of the newest standards and technology, and if buying, replacing every three years, keeps it from being obsolete. Cable modems, based on how they work, are kind of a "wear item", and generally do need to be changed out at a minimum every five years. (Those SB6141 8x4 DOCSIS 3.0 modems that everybody and their brother had, those are developing "bad caps" around now, so should be replaced anyways.)
 

VirtualLarry

No Lifer
Aug 25, 2001
51,977
6,908
126
If that were true, then people would need to replace things like routers or any other component that was always on. I
They do. Those little power bricks, wear out after 5 years, sometimes, especially if you don't have everything hooked up to a UPS.

It's my experience that cable modems run warm to hot most of the time, so they would need to be replaced more often than routers, that run less warm. At least, based on capacitor and other component de-rating schedules.
 

UsandThem

Elite Member
Super Moderator
May 4, 2000
14,953
5,642
146
They do. Those little power bricks, wear out after 5 years, sometimes, especially if you don't have everything hooked up to a UPS.

It's my experience that cable modems run warm to hot most of the time, so they would need to be replaced more often than routers, that run less warm. At least, based on capacitor and other component de-rating schedules.
Maybe some companies have a preemptive replacement policy, but in my neck of the woods, Spectrum (Time Warner owner) will let you use their modems until they die, or will no longer work on their network. Most people don't subscribe to the most expensive/fastest internet plans, so it's not like the SB6141 or SB6183 (or any wireless router that offered N or newer standard) won't easily handle 30 down / 10 up speeds.

Enthusiasts (like me) who pay a pretty penny for fiber optic 300Mbps+ service keep up on modem/router tech updates, so we would replace equipment much more often than Joe Schmo. Enthusiasts like us are a very small bunch.
 

VirtualLarry

No Lifer
Aug 25, 2001
51,977
6,908
126
You make some salient points. I've got several friends, among them, two in particular that are "gamer" friends, one is kind of an enthusiast, when it comes to his cable service (has to have the fastest service that he can afford, loves doing speedtests like every five minutes, and agonizes every time his speedtests drop 20Mbit/sec (out of like 280Mbit/sec), fearing that he can't play online because of that), the other one, has been using his cable companies gateway device, for like the last 5 years or so. I've been trying to get him to upgrade, selling him a new CM/Gateway device, but he wasn't interested. Even though, his ISP has been telling him that he qualifies for speed upgrades.

I guess, being a bit of an enthusiast myself, I forget that not everyone is on their ISP's highest-speed plan. :p
 
  • Like
Reactions: UsandThem

UsandThem

Elite Member
Super Moderator
May 4, 2000
14,953
5,642
146
I guess, being a bit of an enthusiast myself, I forget that not everyone is on their ISP's highest-speed plan. :p
Most of us forget that on here from time to time.

That's why I laugh and stay out of threads where people try to claim things like "16GB of RAM is the new minimum amount for average users" or "8-core CPUs are the new minimum mainstream processor for average users".

Enthusiasts tend to see things through 'tech colored' glasses at times. I mean Intel just finally offered 6 core+ CPUs for mainstream users like 18 months ago, so I think we still have quite a bit off time before quad core CPUs are obsolete for Joe Schmo creating Word documents, browsing the internet, and watching YouTube.
 

VirtualLarry

No Lifer
Aug 25, 2001
51,977
6,908
126
Oh, and just a footnote as to the 8x4 DOCSIS 3.0 SB6141 modems, part of the reason that I mentioned those are, they are half-way EOL on Comcast's network. They will no longer provision RENTED SB6141 devices for customers, but are supposed to still provision customer-OWNED SB6141 devices. The fact that, depending on what internal online resource that the CSR looks at first, may cause them to refuse to activate even customer OWNED SB6141 modems, so that's another reason why I suggested that they are "iffy". IOW, sure, they may still be "good for" a 30Mbit/sec plan, technically, but Comcast wants older DOCSIS 3.0 modems like that off their network, ASAP, because they are old, and drag down the network for everyone else. More channels == more efficient usage of Comcast's cable plant, and those older modems with less channels are less efficient, wasting network airtime.

This line of reason may be what was behind the Cable Tech's comments.
 

UsandThem

Elite Member
Super Moderator
May 4, 2000
14,953
5,642
146
Oh, and just a footnote as to the 8x4 DOCSIS 3.0 SB6141 modems, part of the reason that I mentioned those are, they are half-way EOL on Comcast's network. They will no longer provision RENTED SB6141 devices for customers, but are supposed to still provision customer-OWNED SB6141 devices. The fact that, depending on what internal online resource that the CSR looks at first, may cause them to refuse to activate even customer OWNED SB6141 modems, so that's another reason why I suggested that they are "iffy". IOW, sure, they may still be "good for" a 30Mbit/sec plan, technically, but Comcast wants older DOCSIS 3.0 modems like that off their network, ASAP, because they are old, and drag down the network for everyone else. More channels == more efficient usage of Comcast's cable plant, and those older modems with less channels are less efficient, wasting network airtime.

This line of reason may be what was behind the Cable Tech's comments.
I agree, that could be the reason the tech said that. I just didn't personally think (based on my experience with the internet providers down here) that it was common that modems got replaced every 2-3 years (especially since the tech added the "always on" comment).

I know it could happen sometimes if the provider upgraded their network (like what happened down here when fiber optic network was brought in), but most providers don't overhaul their entire network that often. That said, even if I was on a lower speed plan, and was renting a modem from the ISP (I usually buy my own to save $), I would try to get them to replace it probably every 4-5 years (or sooner if I was experiencing connection/speed issues).
 

JackMDS

Elite Member
Super Moderator
Oct 25, 1999
29,179
288
126
Simple story.

Few months I had to renew an Internet service after I suspended for a while.

I was asked what equipment I have, and after I gave the info I was told that the new renewal would not work with my 3 years old Modem/Wireless Router.

The service was out of suspensions the next day while the new equipment was supposed to arrive 3 days later.

Today it still working at speed, power, etc. with the old hardware nothing has to be changed.

What I mean is that every situation is different than other, smart Judgment need to be according the specific situation.

General rules like change every so and so years, or blindly consumers entity are “Silly” at best.

If one want to do good, be smart about Technology per-se.

Politically Correctness, Verbal Hyperbolic, Marketing and Greed might be important component in society but they have nothing to do with real technology.


:cool:
 

KentState

Diamond Member
Oct 19, 2001
8,124
306
126
I have replaced mine 3 times in the last 10 years as the DOCSIS standards have changed. Now that we have gigabit, it will take a complete upgrade of the networking in the home to go any faster.
 

aigomorla

Cases and Cooling Mod PC Gaming Mod Elite Member
Super Moderator
Sep 28, 2005
19,226
1,614
126
You'll most likely end up having to replace your router more often then replacing the modem.
Well, unless your running PFsense box on enterprise level hardware for your router.

But i think i only replaced my modems when i upgraded services, or when Spectrum bought out TimeWarner, and they made me swap the modem out to a new one.
 

Red Squirrel

No Lifer
May 24, 2003
60,853
9,064
126
www.uovalor.com
I used to work at a help desk for an ISP and it's surprising how modems just "go bad". Like some really weird internet issues can be fixed by just replacing the modem. Generally though I would not just randomly change one unless there is an issue and basic troubleshooting was tried first.

Not really sure why they even go bad in first place, they have a simple task and arn't really super work horses. Guess part of the issue may be that most of the time they arn't actively cooled so they probably start to suffer from thermal damage over the years.
 

ch33zw1z

Lifer
Nov 4, 2004
33,969
12,808
146
I swap it out when needed:

1. Problems with current connection, and problem determination points me at the modem

2. Required to get more speed from ISP.
 

Kadarin

Lifer
Nov 23, 2001
44,302
9
81
Running Comcast Business internet at home, and I'm on the same modem I was 5 years ago, and it still works totally fine.
 

MtnMan

Diamond Member
Jul 27, 2004
6,637
4,900
136
Electronics don't "wear out". They become obsolete, but they don't wear out.

I replace when the standards change for DOCIS, or for WiFi on the router.
 

VirtualLarry

No Lifer
Aug 25, 2001
51,977
6,908
126
Electronics don't "wear out". They become obsolete, but they don't wear out.
Uhh, sure they do. OK, "solid state" devices, have lifetimes often measured in decades (with temperature- and voltage- related de-rating curves for lifespan), but that doesn't mean that they necessarily last forever, does it?

PSUs can "wear out" (mostly because of the caps, re-cap them, and they are often like-new, but how many times you can do that is probably an open question). VRMs can "wear out", eventually, from high temps.

Look up "Anheurillus equation" (sp?) (SanDisk Memory Vault product, used to prominently tout this equation as the reason that their flash memory storage could last 100 years. Now they don't even mention that they ever sold that product.)
 

MtnMan

Diamond Member
Jul 27, 2004
6,637
4,900
136
Uhh, sure they do. OK, "solid state" devices, have lifetimes often measured in decades (with temperature- and voltage- related de-rating curves for lifespan), but that doesn't mean that they necessarily last forever, does it?

PSUs can "wear out" (mostly because of the caps, re-cap them, and they are often like-new, but how many times you can do that is probably an open question). VRMs can "wear out", eventually, from high temps.

Look up "Anheurillus equation" (sp?) (SanDisk Memory Vault product, used to prominently tout this equation as the reason that their flash memory storage could last 100 years. Now they don't even mention that they ever sold that product.)
In 100 years no one will have anything that can read their flash memory.
I have a old Dell Poweredge, running 24/7 for since 2005. It's obsolete, but does exactly what I need it for, running software for my weather station setup, and uploading in realtime to my website. I have had electro-mechanical componetns fail, mainly a hard-drive or two, but it still has the original case and CPU cooling fans.
OBTW, devices that are always on are not subjected to temperature swings, nor the voltage surges of being powered on. One would assume that people would have their computer related gear protected by surge protection at a minimum.

And I suspect that the "tech" from Xfinity was blowing a whole lot of smoke up the OPs backside saying they proactively replace modems annually.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: killster1

DaaQ

Senior member
Dec 8, 2018
521
302
106
I used to work at a help desk for an ISP and it's surprising how modems just "go bad". Like some really weird internet issues can be fixed by just replacing the modem. Generally though I would not just randomly change one unless there is an issue and basic troubleshooting was tried first.

Not really sure why they even go bad in first place, they have a simple task and arn't really super work horses. Guess part of the issue may be that most of the time they arn't actively cooled so they probably start to suffer from thermal damage over the years.

You would be surprised by the amount of failures resulting from bugs. Living inside the heated device.
 

mindless1

Diamond Member
Aug 11, 2001
6,365
785
126
First off, ignore cable techs. They may want to help, but I've heard some pretty bizarre things from them. Realize they are not especially inclined for those sort of work. They'll take anybody with no background in cable or electronics and give them a short training course. There are definitely some that know their stuff but a lot of embellishment comes out of the others' mouths.

Never do I replace a modem, unless one of 1.5 things happens:

1) My ISP upgrades me to a higher tier for free. I don't have the cheapest tier but also don't feel like paying more per month, unless it's a long term investment like a higher DOCSIS standard and # of channels. I'd buy a new modem to get at least 25% higher speed.

1.5) Modem has failed from bad capacitors and is suspected to soon fall into thing #1 above.

2) Modem or its power brick fails from bad capacitors is not a reason for me to replace it. It is true that much of the consumer grade network gear I've bought, has failed in about 5 years of 24/7 service. I've recapped at least 3 GbE switches, and a couple routers when they failed. My Motorola/Arris modems have fared better, I had to replace a power brick on one but that's it before #1 above caused the modem to be replaced.

Since then, the last GbE switches, and routers I bought, I put better capacitors in them before even deploying them, right after making sure they weren't DOA or otherwise unsuited for my needs out of the box. Warranty be damned, I have never had a repeat capacitor failure after a repair using higher quality caps.

The annoying part is when those !@#$ AC-DC power bricks are welded shut and you have to take a bench vice and chisel (or whatever method you prefer, a C-clamp and screwdriver will work in a pinch or just a saw (lol) to get them open but if you use a saw then cementing them back together isn't nearly as easy.

Since most of those power bricks are 12V or 5V and have a standard sized DC barrel jack, I just pull one that fails, swap in a spare that I've already repaired, and put the pulled brick on the "repair this the next time you have your soldering iron out", pile. After it gets repaired, I drill holes in the casing on a drill press so they run much cooler. I don't have little people running around poking paperclips in things so that's safe enough to do. It might seem like a lot to do but frankly, the few minutes spent is less than it would take me to pick out a new widget.

If anyone wants some part #s, the two caps I buy the most of these days for several different repairs are Digikey P122393-ND and P122380-ND. Those two are 16V rated and respectively 8mm and 10mm diameter, under 18mm tall so they work in other height constrainted products like TVs and computer monitors too. It used to be that you had to aim closer to the original cap voltage to get something with enough capacitance in the same can size but Panasonic has gotten ESR so low and capacitance so high that it no longer made sense to me to buy the lower voltage values.

These two cap model #'s will work in 95% of the capacitor failures I come across, except for the older generations of video cards and motherboards which may have additional, shorter height constraints or better to go with solid/polymer caps for the higher heat resistance near a row of 'fets.
 
Last edited:
Feb 4, 2009
31,387
11,788
136
I am sure the cable tech is tired of making house calls due to slow Wifi or a guy I said he gets WiFi service 600 feet from his home.
He is probably thinking you are paying $150 per year for this damn modem or you are smart enough to buy your own, replace it every few years to get the latest gear.
 

mindless1

Diamond Member
Aug 11, 2001
6,365
785
126
^ If I were a cable tech, I'd gladly go on calls where I was just resetting someone's wifi in a nice, warm, dry room, rather than kneeling in snow and mud outside checking line signal levels, crawling in attics in summer, bumping head on shingle nails, etc.

... except for covid, in that case I'd as soon stay out of some homes.
 

ASK THE COMMUNITY