You may restart your modem and router only when there seems to be a problem with your business’s internet connection or Wi-Fi. But there are good reasons to reboot them more often.

One important one: it can protect your business against viruses and other security risks.

In May 2018, for example, the Federal Bureau of Investigation urged U.S. businesses to reboot their wireless routers after foreign hackers were found to be installing malware on vulnerable routers. Infected routers could contaminate other network devices, such as computer hard drives, the FBI said, and rebooting would protect personal data on networks and prevent any virus from spreading.


Many Reasons to Reboot

Evidence of malware or another type of computer virus is just one reason a company should reboot its modems and routers, says Joe Silverman, owner of New York Computer Help, which provides technical support to New York City homes and businesses. Sluggish internet performance, unexplained network activity and other signs of infections are also good reasons to reboot, he says.

“Rebooting will kick off the infections and solve many common problems,” Silverman says.

Even when there are no signs of infection or intrusion, businesses might consider restarting routers periodically. A reboot every now and then will clear out unsuspected viruses or poachers and flush limited router memory, all of which can improve network performance.

“If there’s suspicion, definitely do it,” Silverman says. “Otherwise, every three months is good.”


How to Reboot Correctly

Rebooting a router or modem is also known as power cycling. By any name, the process consists of unplugging the power cord, waiting a minute and then plugging the power back in.

“Some routers will have a power button, but it doesn’t fully recycle the router,” Silverman says. “So it’s best to take out the power plug and put it back in.”

Routers and modems are generally packaged in a single unit and can be rebooted simultaneously. Older models may be separate devices that need to be power cycled separately.


Reboot Caveats

Rebooting temporarily disconnects any network devices from the internet and each other. It may take a few minutes for the router to reconnect. So it’s best to restrict router reboots to off-hours.

An inexpensive mechanical lamp timer can be programmed to turn power on and off to plugged-in routers in the middle of nights or weekends. Avoid rebooting when devices may be updating system software, conducting backups or performing other tasks sensitive to interruption.

And rebooting won’t solve all problems. Router owners are advised to check for updates to firmware controlling their devices and install the latest firmware as soon as possible. New firmware may have security updates, performance enhancements and other important add-ons.

Occasionally an older router may stop working after a reboot. That’s one reason businesses that rely on routers for critical functions might consider replacing them with newer models from time to time. Other reasons for replacement include the availability of security updates, evolving standards and opportunities to improve overall performance.

“The signal can get weak, and the software security can get weak also,” Silverman says. “So it’s good to change it out every three or four years.”

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