It’s fairly obvious when it comes time for a computer upgrade. Your system’s not as spry as it used to be. It’s starting to have trouble doing basic things like running an Internet browser, and no amount of software tweaking or disc cleaning seems to help. Applications and media files are getting larger, and you never seem to have enough space on your hard drive…

You get the idea.

At most, a high-end system has a lifespan of about 3-5 years before it’s time to upgrade some of the components within, or buy a new system altogether. It’s just the way technology works. Eventually, every gadget you’ve got is going to be obsolete and you’ll end up buying a new one if you want to keep up with everyone else.

Manufacturers make it fairly obvious when it’s time to upgrade your tablet, or processor, or graphics card. A new model hits the market. A new type of chip revolutionizes the way computers function. A new piece of hardware won’t work with your old motherboard.

But what about when it comes to routers? How can you tell when it’s time to upgrade your access point?

First things first, you need to pay attention to how many devices you’re running. Your old router might not have had any trouble whatsoever dealing with a computer or two, but now that you’re running several PCs, a tablet, and a smartphone, well… latency should probably be expected.

Speaking of which, there’s another sign it’s time for an upgrade – if you’re noticing your connection seems to be slowing down (or it’s simply not as fast as you want it to be) it might well be time to upgrade your router. Of course, there are a number of reasons your connection might be slow. Maybe there’s something wrong with the wiring in your building or neighborhood (in that case, call your service provider and have them send someone out). Maybe your connection’s being throttled, or maybe it’s time to upgrade your service. You could always try optimizing your router, as well.

Or perhaps it’s simply time for a new router. As a general rule, even if you’re not replacing it, you should check your hardware at least every year to two years, and upgrade every three years or so.

Same deal as with computers, really.