If you do not know what to do with old modems, this post is tailored to give you some ideas.
Modems have one main use, to supply the internet at home or your office. Once you decide to upgrade to a newer modem, the old one often looks like a burden.
Well, there are many ways you can reuse or repurpose your old modem.
The best way to reuse your old modem is to turn it into a WiFi range extender. If your modem doubles up as a router it is the perfect option for extending your WiFi range. Ideally, the modem is made to act as a WiFi repeater.
The other uses of old modems include acting as VPN and even mini servers.
For this post, we look at the alternative uses of old modems, especially those that double up as routers. Keep reading to find out more.
Ideas for What to Do With Old Modems
If you already have old modems, what to do with them should not be a problem. There are tons of ideas that can turn your old modems into pieces of technology.
As a matter of fact, use them to experiment with things you have always wanted to try.
Below are the ideas you may explore for this purpose.
Solution #1 Use as a WiFi Repeater to Extend Range
If your WiFi signal does not reach all areas of your home, you can use old modems as wireless repeaters. A repeater acts as an access point that repeats the wireless signal from your current network router.
To do this, you will have to place your old modem at a point where you lack signal.
The modem will pick up the signal and extend it, ensuring that every corner of your home is connected. It’s even possible to extend the signal outside.
However, keep in mind that using a repeater involves data transfer. If not managed well, it may result in some noticeable latency issues.
How to turn an old modem into a WiFi repeater
- Update the firmware on your old modem
- Connect an Ethernet cable from your main internet router to the WAN port on the old modem.
- Log in to the old modem’s admin panel using its IP address and login information.
- Go to Wireless Settings and select AP mode.
- The old router will now act as a Wifi range extender
Note: This only works with a modem that doubles up as a router.
Solution #2 Turn Old Modem Into an Ethernet Network Switch
The next option is to try to turn your old modem into an ethernet switch. In the same manner, as above, you have to connect it to your router with an ethernet cable.
This can increase the number of Ethernet ports available on your network, allowing you to connect more devices that require a wired connection.
However, your old modem must have DD-WRT firmware installed and be compatible with DD-WRT.
Steps to use an old modem as a network switch:
- Install DD-WRT firmware on your old router if it’s not already installed
- Connect the old router to your main router with an Ethernet cable
- Log in to the administrative panel of the DD-WRT router
- Change your LAN IP address on the old modem
- Disable the DHCP server on the old modem
- Save the changes and restart the router
- Connect your devices to the Ethernet ports on the old router if you have excess devices at home.
Tip: This is only necessary if you have too many devices at home or in your office that need to be connected via ethernet cable.
Solution #3 Use Modem as Network Attached Storage
The next option you can try is using the old modem as a Network Attached Storage (NAS).
You can do this by connecting a USB drive to the router and running custom firmware such as DD-WRT or OpenWRT.
This setup will allow you to store and access data from anywhere on your home network.
Steps to use an old modem as a NAS device
- Install OpenWRT firmware on your old modem
- Connect a USB drive to the USB port on the router.
- Log in to the admin panel of the router using default logins
- Enable USB support and set up the USB drive as a network share.
- Configure the network share settings
- Save the changes and restart your modem
Solution #4 Use Old Modem as a VPN
Some older modems have the ability to create a VPN (Virtual Private Network) connection. However, this depends on the modem’s hardware and firmware capabilities.
The VPN you create with the router can go a long way in helping prevent cyber-attacks. However, you must still have a VPN subscription for this to be successful.
How to turn old Modem into a VPN
- Choose a VPN provider and subscribe to their service
- Log in to the Admin panel of your router
- Configure the VPN connection by entering the VPN provider’s server information and login credentials.
- Enable the VPN connection on the router.
- Connect to the internet through the VPN by connecting to the router’s network.
Solution #5 Use Old Modem to Set up Guest WiFi
The other option is to use your old modem for Guest WiFi. This is the most appropriate option for those who receive plenty of guests.
If the guests pose a security risk, it is ideal to separate their WiFi. When you use an old modem, you can assign them a separate WiFi name and password.
All you have to do is connect the old modem to the internet from the current router using an ethernet cable.
You can then log in to your old router and assign a new name and password.
How to set up the old modem as guest WiFi
- Connect your old modem to your main router using an Ethernet cable
- Log in to the Administrative panel of the old modem using the default username and password
- Change the default SSID (network name) and password to a new one, to distinguish it from your main network.
- Enter the security details of your modem such as WPA2 encryption
- Disable DHCP on the old router
- Click on Save to implement the changes made
Once you have done all the above, your new setup should be able to provide WiFi under a different name from your house WiFi. This reduces the risk of guests hacking your internet.
Solution #6 Use Old Modem as a Printer Server
This is a hack that most people do not know about. When you have a home server for your printer, you do not need an internet connection to print.
You can achieve this by connecting printers to the USB ports on the old modem and enabling the file-sharing option.
This setup allows you to access your printers and print documents without the need for a network.
Here are the steps to set up a modem as a print server
- Connect the printers to the USB ports on the modem
- Log in to the Admin panel of the router.
- Enable the file-sharing option.
- Save the changes and restart the modem
- Connect to the modem’s network and access the printers from any device on the network.
- Print documents by sending the print job to the print server.
Note: With this arrangement, you will be able to print a document from any device on the network.
Solution #7 Use an Old Modem to Host a Website
You can use an old modem with OpenWRT firmware to host content.
However, it’s important to note that using a home network for hosting content might be a violation of your ISP’s terms of service.
Before setting up a home server, check with your ISP to see if there are any restrictions or guidelines.
Here are the steps to set up a home server
- Install OpenWRT firmware on the old modem
- Log in to the administrative panel of the router.
- Install and configure your preferred web server software
- Set up a static IP address for the router.
- Create a firewall rule to allow incoming connections to the web server.
- Publish your content to the web server
- Test the website by accessing it from a web browser using the router’s IP address
Now you know what to do with old modems in case you have one at home.
If you have either an old or used modem, you can use it to enhance connectivity at home. Consider all the above options and select one that suits your needs.
Read Next: Can You Use Two Modems in One House?
Finn Wheatley holds a Master’s Degree in Computer Science from UCL, London. He helped small data science consultancy firms, helping large corporations to grow their data capabilities, deploy advanced machine learning-based analytics and troubleshoot tech-related issues.