How to Replace Old or Defective Wireless Wi-Fi Router

Here, we list tips, advice, and procedure for replacing a wireless wifi router that no longer provides sufficient speed for multiple users on your home Wifi network, or has become defective or stopped working entirely.

If you’ve been thinking about retiring your current router and upgrading to a state-of-the-art system, and you’re wondering whether you should, read our  Time to Replace Your Wifi Router When… piece, which details the symptoms, conditions, and behaviors that you may be observing in your network, that could indicate that it is definitely time for a replacement.

If after reading that piece, you believe that yes, your wireless router should indeed be swapped out for something better, then select and purchase a new wireless router, and read on for tips and instructions on how to connect it to your existing network and get it up and running.

Pictured next, is a typical dual band, four port wireless router from Belkin.

Picture of the front of the box for the Belkin AC1200 DB Wireless Router.
Belkin AC1200 DB Wifi Router Box Front.

Cautions and Warnings

Take care when replacing your router, to follow the tips below, as recklessly moving ahead could leave you at best confused about how to connect the new router, and at worst, rendering your network unusable, not only on the wireless side, but the LAN (wired) side as well.  Proceeding in an orderly, careful fashion makes this job so much easier, and virtually guarantees success.

Note or photograph current router connections.  Don’t disconnect the old router without writing down the LAN, WAN, power, and USB cord placements (if any).

Replace the old router’s power adaptor. Be sure you replace the old router’s power supply with the one that comes with the new router.  Failing to do this could cause poor performance or damage to the new router. A malfunctioning supply could be the reason for the original router malfunction, was its power supply.  So you do not want to use that old supply on the new router, to avoid the same thing happing to your new one.

Use antennas that came with new router.  The same goes for any router-specific antennas.  Newer routers often rely on beam forming technology for improved signal range and imperviousness to interference.  The antennas from the older router may not have been designed to accommodate this technology.  So, when taking your old router out of service, be sure to remove its antennas from service also, and use the new router’s antennas with that new router.

Replace the modem cable.  If the WAN Internet port on the retiring router is a gigabit port, and the cable you’ve been using is allowing data flow at that rate, then this step is not necessary.  However, if you’re replacing an older router, one that features a 10/100 Mbps, or even a 10 Mbps WAN port, then to assure maximum Internet speeds with the new router, replace your old modem cable with the one that typically is packaged with the new router.

Procedure: How to Replace a Wifi Router

1. Disconnect any attached devices.  Do this by powering down any LAN-connected devices that are directly connected to your old wireless router.  For wireless devices, simply disconnect them from the Wifi network belonging to the router you’re replacing.

2. Power off our ISP’s modem and the router to be retired.  Order is not important in this step, so long as both devices are powered down before you proceed.

3. Note the cables for the LAN and WAN ports.  AS mentioned above, it’s best to photograph the current cable spread on the old router back and front panels, as this quickly records all cable colors and their associated ports.

4. Disconnect all cables from old router.  Unplug all local and WAN Ethernet cables, USB cords (if any), and the power cable.  Once done, set the retired router aside.

5. Replace / upgrade any cables necessary. With everything shut down, now is a great time to upgrade any LAN or USB cables necessary from 10-Base-T and 100-Base-T, to 1000-Base-T (Ethernet), and USB 1.1 and USB 2.0 to USB 3.0.  Upgrade all LAN cables to CAT-6, or at a minimum, CAT 5e.

6. Connect the new Wifi router.  Plug the (upgraded) Ethernet cables that were connected to the LAN side of the old router, to the same ports on the new.  If you had been using the DMZ LAN port before, be sure to plug this cable into the DMZ-designated port on the new wireless router. Typically, local ports 1 or 4 are reserved for DMZ (demilitarized zone), although some routers allow you to configure any one of the four LAN ports as DMZ through their web interfaces.

7. Power on the ISP modem. Be sure hat your modem has COMPLETELY powered on before proceeding to the next step.  You can tell this by observing its DS and US status lamps glowing steadily, as well as the INTERNET or ONLINE lamp also showing a steady illumination.  This step can require up to a few minutes to finish.

8. Power on the new router.  Again, this step can also take more than two minutes.  Verify that the router has completely come online by looking its status lamps.  Particularly the WAN and Wifi lamps should indicate nominal operational status.  See your new router’s users manual for direction on how to interpret its status panel lamps.  Note however, that if any LAN port status lights on the new router, that are either not connected, or are connected but to non powered devices, will not glow.

9. Reset router if necessary.  If your new router has been used previously, its default settings (local IP addresses, wireless SSIDs, Etc.) may have been changed by its previous owner.  Unless someone else has reconfigured the router to match your specific needs, then press the reset button (according to manufacturer’s instructions), to restore the router to its factory default settings.  Most instructions manuals are written assuming these default settings.  So you’ll want to assure that the router is functioning as it was intended to function by default, before proceeding.

10. Turn on your computer.  Normal boot up of a PC can take up to a minute or more.  But once it’s up, verify that it has connectivity to your new router by looking at the router’s status lamp for the LAN port into which you’ve patched the computer.  Then, verify that you can surf the web.

11. Access new router’s web interface.  Use the local computer you just turned on to log in to your new router.  Familiarize yourself with its web interface.  The default admin URL, user Id, and password are given either in the router’s instructions, or are printed somewhere on the router itself.

12. Configure network parameters to match old router if needed.  To avoid having to reconfigure all your Wifi client devices (phones, laptops, tablets, media players, and gaming machines), configure the wireless networks SSID, security type, and password (passphrase) to match what they were on the old router.  Doing this eliminates the need to manually reconnect your wireless devices manually to a different network.

13. Connect your wireless devices.  If you’ve configured your new router with the same wireless network settings as the old, as detailed in the previous step, then your devices should connect to the new wireless router automatically when you activate their network functions.

If you’ve managed to get through the above steps successfully, then you have finished installing your new router.  If not, check out our  Wi-Fi Router Troubleshooting Tips article, for tips and advice on how to get your new or existing router going.

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Revision History

  • 2016-01-13: Added more appropriate tags.
  • 2015-09-27: Added tags.
  • 2015-07-20: Originally published.