Can Network Switches Go Bad?

Setting up a home network is not cheap, and setting up an office network can set you back quite a bit financially. When setting up any network, it is best to get premium routers, switches, and even cables. With a network being so expensive to set up, you might be wondering, Do network switches wear out?

A network switch has an average lifespan between five and ten years. Factors such as repeated power failures and surges may shorten this timeframe. Depending on many environment variables, you may start seeing your network switch starting to degrade in performance around the 5 year mark. It is for that reason that we suggest you replace your network switches every four years.

In this article, we want to walk you through everything you need to know about network switches going bad. If you are just about to set up a home or business network or have problems with your current network, I recommend reading this article in its entirety. With that being said, let’s get into it.

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When should you replace a network Switch?

It is best if you replace a network switch at least every four years. The lifespan of a network switch is approximately five years, but when the switch is around 3 to 4 years old, it might start giving you minor problems now and then. Replacing it every four years is the best way to avoid extra hassle.

It is important to remember that most network switches receive heavy workloads. We are constantly connected, and if you have three or four devices connected to a network switch, the switch may be continually working.

Premium network switches could last up to 10 years; however, the technology within the network switch is likely outdated during this time. This can be true for every five years, and that is another reason you want to keep your network switch updated at least every four years.

Replace the switch When it Becomes Outdated

It is rare to see somebody still using network switches that have 100MB capacity. However, we are going to use this as an example. Let’s say you have a 100 megabit network switch, but your LAN cables are one gigabit.

In this instance, your network switch will act as a bottleneck, and you will not get the performance that your network’s wiring allows because of this bottleneck. So, even if your network switch is working 100%, it is best to avoid this bottleneck by replacing your router when you upgrade the wiring.

This is true for your internet. Let’s say you have a 200MB internet line but a 100MB network switch. Well, you are limiting yourself once again, and it would be best if you upgraded to a gigabit switch. Remember, a network switch distributes its bandwidth across all the connected devices and does not offer one gigabit to each device.

To sum it up, whenever you upgrade your internet or your home network, you want to upgrade all of the components, including the network switch. It is important to remember you are always limited to your lowest common denominator, which inexperienced people overlook.

Will a Bad Network Switch Slow Down Your Internet?

A lousy network switch can indeed slow down your internet. However, it might not. It all depends on what is wrong with the network switch. At the same time, a lousy network switch can do more than slow down your internet. It can create an unstable connection.

If your connection is unstable, this is a bigger problem than slow internet, especially if you are working in finance, dealing with sensitive data, or even playing video games.

When Should You Replace Your Network Wiring?

Replacing the wiring for your network is not as necessary as replacing the network switch; however, the wiring does take some wear and tear here and there. It might not be evident at first, but every time you move your desk or clean around the wiring, this creates wear and tear.

So, it would be best if you replaced the wiring once every five years. As we discussed above when discussing your switch, it is advisable you upgrade your network wiring when you upgrade anything else in your network. Unless, of course, any upgrades you do to your network are not more significant than your current wiring offers.

When Should You Replace Your Modem/Router?

A modem/router has a heavier workload than your general network switch because it often delivers wired connectivity to your devices and a wireless connection. It is also constantly connected to your internet line, so it is continually working.

However, this does not mean that you should replace your router constantly. It is advisable that you also replace the modem/router once every four years, but I have seen routers lasting a lot longer than that. I guess it all depends on the quality of the modem and a router.

What Causes Network Switch Failures?

There are a few different reasons why a network switch fails. You have the most apparent reason, which is general wear and tear, but you also have the most common cause. Let’s take a look at the three most common reasons why network switches fail.

  • Power Surges
  • Lighting
  • Bad configurations

Ask anyone who works in repairs, and they will tell you the most common reason for the failure of network switches is power surges. Your only defense against this is to get surge protection plugs.

Lightning is another primary reason why these switches fail. Unfortunately, your only defense would be to unplug your network when there are heavy thunderstorms. We understand that this is not always possible, so again, you might consider just having surge protection plugs because this can also help you in bad weather.

If your network has a bad configuration, it can affect everything from your internet speeds, latency, and the stability of your connection. A bad configuration might cause problems with your network switch.  

You could phone a network professional if the problem is with the LAN network. Still, if you are having issues with your internet because of a lousy switch network configuration, you can phone your internet service provider, and they might have somebody on hand to walk you through the steps you need to take to fix the problem.

How Often Should You Reset Your Network?

It has become somewhat of a meme but restarting your devices is the first step you should take when troubleshooting your technology. When it comes to Network switches and routers, it is good to have a routine where you restart your network. How often you restart everything depends on how heavy your usage is.

For networks that receive heavy usage, restart the network every 2 or 3 days. For networks that receive light use, restart it once a week. Following this routine is good maintenance and should ensure that you get the maximum speeds.

A network switch and Router have memory. Data is sent to the switch, where it is stored, translated, and then sent to its next destination. Amongst everything that gets stored in the memory, there is a lot of irrelevant data such as records. Restarting the network clears the memory of the switch.

Does A Bad Network Switch Affect Your Network Security?

Yes, a bad switch can put your network at risk. A network setup may seem like a few wires connected to a few devices, but it is rather delicate and complex. This is true for the security measures that a switch or router has; they are complex.

When a network switch or router starts to degrade, it may present loopholes or backdoors to its security measures.


We rely heavily on our networks, whether for LAN networking or internet usage. Something as simple as a switch going bad can disrupt everything we are doing and, in many cases, can cost us a lot of time and money. So, I recommend that you keep an eye on your network switch and replace it before its initial due date because waiting until the very end of its life span can end up costing you more money than just replacing it.

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