Your router stores the settings for your home Wi-Fi network. So if you want to change something, you have to log into your router's software, also known as firmware. From there, you can change the name of your network, the password, the security level, create a guest network, and set up or change a variety of other options. But how do you get into your router to make those changes?
You log into your router's firmware through a browser. Any browser will do. At the address field, type the IP address of your router. Most routers use an address of 192.168.1.1. But that's not always the case, so first you want to confirm the address of your router.
Open up a command prompt from within Windows. In Windows 7, click on the Start button and type cmd in the search programs and files field. In Windows 8.1 and above, press the Windows + R buttons and type cmd. At the command prompt window, type ipconfig at the prompt itself and press Enter. Scroll to the top of the window until you see a setting for Default Gateway under Wi-Fi. That's your router, and the number next to it is your router's IP address. Note that address.
Close the command-prompt window by typing exit at the prompt or clicking "X" on the pop-up. Type your router's IP address in the address field of your Web browser and press Enter. You'll be asked for a username and password to access your router's firmware. This is either the default username and password for your router, or a unique username and password that you may have created when you set up the router.
If you created a unique username and password, and you remember what they are, that's great. Just enter them in the appropriate fields, and your router's firmware settings appear. You can now change whatever elements you want, typically screen by screen. On each screen, you may need to apply any changes before you move onto the next screen. When you're done, you may be asked to log in again to your router. After you've done that, just close your browser.
Okay, that doesn't sound too hard. But…yep, there's always a but, what if you don't know the username and password for logging into your router? Many routers use a default username of admin and a default password of password. You can try those to see if they get you in.
If not, some routers offer a password-recovery feature. If this is true of your router, this option should appear if you enter the wrong username and password and then press Cancel at the login prompt.
Still can't get in? Then you'll need to try to find the default username and password. Your best bet is to run a Google or Bing search with the brand name of your router followed by the phrase default username and password, such as "netgear router default username and password" or "linksys router default username and password."
The search results should display the default username and password. Now try logging into your router with those default credentials. Hopefully, that will get you in. If not, then that probably means you or someone else changed the default username and password at some point. In that case, you may simply want to reset your router so all settings revert back to their defaults. You'll usually find a small Reset button on your router. Use a pointed object such as a pen or paper clip to push in and hold the Reset button for around 10 seconds. Then release the button.
You should now be able to log into your router using the default username and password. Your first task will be to change the wireless network name, wireless network password, and security level. You should also go through each screen to see if there are other settings you wish to change. Documentation and built-in help should be available to assist you with these screens if you're not sure how to set them. Most current or recent routers also have setup wizards that can take care of some of this labor for you.
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The process for logging into your router should be the same whether you use your Internet provider's router or you purchased your own router. It should also be the same whether you use a dedicated router or a combination modem/router supplied by your provider.
Finally, you can and should change your router's username and password from their default values. This better secures your router so only you can access the firmware screens. Just remember the new credentials to avoid having to reset the router to make any changes in the future.
For more, check out 7 Router Features You Should Be Using for Better Wi-Fi. And be sure to test your own Internet speed.