Computers & Electronics

Is it safe to buy a used router?

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  • Dec 30th, 2019 2:52 am
[OP]
Member
May 2, 2014
458 posts
176 upvotes

Is it safe to buy a used router?

I am seeing some routers, like the TP Link C9 and some Asus's for like 50-70 bucks...
i suspect that since there are not many moving parts in them, not much wear and tear?
15 replies
Deal Addict
Jul 21, 2005
2006 posts
1056 upvotes
Alberta
For the most part should be okay. People probably just upgrade to something new and quicker and cooler looking, and put rest of their stuff on the used market to make up some of the cost.
Deal Addict
Jan 23, 2003
1002 posts
239 upvotes
Mississauga
The 'moving parts' theory is overrated.

Although technically, there are moving parts in chips, they are just electrons on a microscopic scale that eventually wear down the 'walls' inside a chip. Heat usually causes it to wear down faster.

But yes, most wifi routers tend to wear down and eventually fail, I haven't looked into exactly why, but my guess is because wifi chipsets generate a lot of heat and the majority of the home routers do not have cooling fans.

https://www.howtogeek.com/125747/is-it- ... ear-out-2/
https://superuser.com/questions/238961/ ... ep-failing
https://www.reddit.com/r/explainlikeimf ... eem_to_go/

It's actually a lot like car engines. Car engines have 'moving parts' but can last nearly 'forever' if:
1. originally built to last
2. well maintained
3. well cooled

Same thing applies to computers/electronics. CPU Processors tend to have no problems because they are usually built to last, and nearly all have a cooling fan and heat sink with them. The ones that don't tend to die quicker (unless they don't produce much heat to begin with).

Then you have brand new TVs that only last a year, despite being LCD + LED lit, in theory, should last a long time, but the manufacturer cut corners somewhere and that particular model isn't 'built to last.'

Yet people often expect these to last forever because 'no moving parts.'
[OP]
Member
May 2, 2014
458 posts
176 upvotes
intx wrote: The 'moving parts' theory is overrated.

Although technically, there are moving parts in chips, they are just electrons on a microscopic scale that eventually wear down the 'walls' inside a chip. Heat usually causes it to wear down faster.

But yes, most wifi routers tend to wear down and eventually fail, I haven't looked into exactly why, but my guess is because wifi chipsets generate a lot of heat and the majority of the home routers do not have cooling fans.

https://www.howtogeek.com/125747/is-it- ... ear-out-2/
https://superuser.com/questions/238961/ ... ep-failing
https://www.reddit.com/r/explainlikeimf ... eem_to_go/

It's actually a lot like car engines. Car engines have 'moving parts' but can last nearly 'forever' if:
1. originally built to last
2. well maintained
3. well cooled

Same thing applies to computers/electronics. CPU Processors tend to have no problems because they are usually built to last, and nearly all have a cooling fan and heat sink with them. The ones that don't tend to die quicker (unless they don't produce much heat to begin with).

Then you have brand new TVs that only last a year, despite being LCD + LED lit, in theory, should last a long time, but the manufacturer cut corners somewhere and that particular model isn't 'built to last.'

Yet people often expect these to last forever because 'no moving parts.'
you just rocked my world
Deal Fanatic
User avatar
May 11, 2009
7313 posts
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Debtario
I thought this was going to be a security-related question, in which case flashing the firmware should put your mind at ease.

It can be risky buying a used router, but not much more so than any other computer gear. It's possible that the router was run hard under load and ran hot, just like video cards that were used for mining the lifespan may have been cut short, so you need to balance that against how good of a deal you're getting and decide if it's worth it for you.
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Deal Guru
User avatar
Nov 21, 2002
11425 posts
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Winnipeg
do a 30/30/30 reset reboot and anything would be erased back to stock.Heck you can even re-flash and 30/30/30 too

Most routers, quality built, can run for ever unless over heated or abused in some manner(dirty power too). Its the psu that tends to equaly if not more fail/fault first. If a router was fine for a long time on same firmware and then starts failing. Often overlooked its the psu not supplying appropriate current anymore since they tend to flow larger amounts of electricity than the routers experience.
Deal Fanatic
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Mar 31, 2017
6729 posts
2991 upvotes
The transmitter on a router does wear out, leading to lower signal strength or other wifi issues. Some of the routers might be on the market because from day 1 the model had poor wifi to beging with by design.
Deal Addict
Sep 10, 2004
2851 posts
875 upvotes
Toronto
ausername wrote: Is it safe to buy a used router?
Depends.
Failures after a few years due to overheating is not unusual.

And for users who are security conscious,
Depending on router model,
Poor and/or lack of firmware updates is another concern.
Deal Guru
User avatar
Mar 13, 2004
12925 posts
4533 upvotes
Ontario
If concerned you can always provide better cooling for the router. Also be sure to reset & update the firmware on it if its available.

I bought a used ASUS RT-AC5300, I ripped it apart cleaned it all out and then stuck a 120mm fan on top connected to one of the usb ports. I runs around 10-15c cooler then if I was to remove the fan & its a slow moving silent fan so I dont even notice it.
Deal Addict
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Mar 25, 2012
1872 posts
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Kelowna
Why? Routers are cheap, unless you're getting one of those mesh routers for your overly large house. We just buy the cheapest DLink model for $20-40 once every 5 years or so and recycle the old one.

Cheers,
Doug
Deal Addict
Jan 13, 2009
1566 posts
191 upvotes
Oakville
ausername wrote: Is it safe to buy a used router?
No.
It may come with bugs.
Like cockroaches or spiders.
Deal Expert
User avatar
Jun 12, 2007
18345 posts
5963 upvotes
London
KosMos wrote: No.
It may come with bugs.
Like cockroaches or spiders.
Bedbugs

Edit - actually happened to an RFDer. He bought a “really good” used dishwasher. His next thread was “what’s the best way to rid of cockroaches?”
Jr. Member
User avatar
Aug 7, 2004
104 posts
44 upvotes
Toronto
Reset the router to default factory settings and flash the latest firmware.

Only concern is that the routers get old and overheated so components like capacitors might start to fail over time.
Deal Guru
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Jan 11, 2004
10092 posts
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Toronto
badOne wrote: The transmitter on a router does wear out, leading to lower signal strength or other wifi issues. Some of the routers might be on the market because from day 1 the model had poor wifi to beging with by design.
the cheaper routers e.g Tp links, transmissters tend to die after a year.

i would buy brand new for peace of mind.

an cheap brand new one is $30.
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Deal Fanatic
Nov 1, 2006
9010 posts
2976 upvotes
Toronto
ausername wrote: I am seeing some routers, like the TP Link C9 and some Asus's for like 50-70 bucks...
i suspect that since there are not many moving parts in them, not much wear and tear?
With the usual cautions, yes, it is as safe to buy a used router as any other used electronic equipment.

My first step would be to check the reviews for the product and make sure it's what you want. Next step would be to check most recent retail prices. Now look for used routers on Kijiji or Craiglist and get an idea of prices for used routers. Now look look for a router with original packaging. And, finally, look for any physical defects (scorch marks, deformations, rattles, etc.) and trust your gut when dealing with any seller. Always ask to plug in the router and watch it light up. If the seller is reluctant to do that, run!
Deal Addict
Oct 6, 2015
2463 posts
1391 upvotes
If you're a high security site, and someone wants to steal your data, its certainly possible that a router could be surreptitiously modified to facilitate an off-site VPN into the network, and hence, a backdoor to the network.

But someone would have to be specifically targeting you for that to be applicable, and they'd need to be pretty tech savvy to pull off such a feat.

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