Spoiler alert: saving the configuration of your router is a smart thing to do.
The problem is, not many people do it.
What ends up happening is people have trouble with their router or forget their password. Then they find out that they have to change each one of their router’s settings all over again after they perform a factory reset on it. This can be a painful process and consume hours of your time.
In other words, you end up wishing you had backed up your router.
So let’s avoid this situation entirely.
In order to save your router’s configuration, you have to log in to it first. From there, you can access the back up option in the Advanced Settings section.
Once you’ve saved your router’s settings to your computer, flash drive, or other storage device, you can restore them any time you want.
The good news here is restoring your router’s settings is just as easy as saving them. All you have to do is access your router’s advanced settings again.
In total, it only takes a few minutes to back up or restore your router.
Did I mention it could save you hours of frustration?
Yeah, it’s totally worth doing.
In this post I’ll break down the steps you need to take to back up your router. I’ll also detail why you should take the time to do it.
Let’s dive in.
Why should I save my router’s configuration?
I get it.
You might be hesitant.
“Why would I save my router’s configuration when I never have problems with my router?”
The thing is, it’s good to have a backup of your router even when you’re not having problems with it.
Let’s look at the cases where saving your router’s settings will come in handy.
When you have to factory reset your router
If you have to perform a factory reset of your router, it’s helpful to have a backup of your settings.
Completing a factory reset will return all your router’s settings to what they were when you first got it.
In other words, a factory reset will return your router to its brand new condition.
There are a few main reasons why you would need to factory reset your router:
- You forgot your router’s login password
- When your router isn’t working properly and you’re not sure why
Both of these cases are possible scenarios.
Who hasn’t forgotten a password before?
In either case, you need to bring your router back to square one. This is something a lot of people are hesitant to do. They don’t want to lose all the hard work they’ve put in to set their router up.
I get it.
This would be a lot less scary if you knew you could return your router’s settings to what they were before in a matter of minutes. That’s where a backup comes in handy.
If you have a backup of your router’s settings from a time when it was firing on all cylinders, you have nothing to worry about. You can rest easy knowing that you can factory reset your router and have it back in a working condition in a matter of minutes.
When upgrading your router’s firmware
Any time your router needs an update, it can be a good idea to have a saved copy of your configuration files before you perform the upgrade.
In fact, some router manufacturers will request that you save your routers settings before an update. That way, you’ll be able to restore any custom settings to your router after a major firmware update if they’re not correctly carried over.
For example, I have a TP-Link router. In the documentation for my router it says to save my router’s settings before the firmware update.
The reason for this is that the firmware update may remove any custom settings I previously had on my router.
If that happens, it’ll be much faster to restore my previous settings after the update instead of manually changing each setting back to what it was before.
Take note that this may not be the best practice for all routers. Make sure you read the documentation for your router before restoring saved settings after a firmware update. Sometimes the new firmware that you just installed won’t work properly with old firmware settings that you’ve saved.
In other cases, your router settings will be saved after a firmware update and you won’t have to take any further action.
It’s better to be safe than sorry. Make sure you do your homework before restoring your settings after a firmware update.
When you want to test out new settings on your router
Routers can be complex devices.
They offer a lot of choices when setting them up. This allows you to customize your router to your unique internet situation at home.
For the technically savvy, your router can be a playground for tinkering and optimizing your internet experience.
What’s bad about this is that not every change you make will work out in your favor. If you make a mistake or change the wrong setting, it can hurt your internet’s performance.
Wouldn’t it be nice to have a saved copy of your router’s configuration from a time it was working well?
I thought so.
With a good backup of your router, you can try out new settings as much as you want. Worst case scenario, you can return your router’s settings to what they were before by restoring the backup.
In this sense, a good backup of your router serves as a great safety blanket.
What settings are saved when I back up my router?
Before I answer this question I’ll start by giving a little background information.
I’ll start by explaining the components of your router.
Inside your router it has a processor and memory, among other things.
Some of your router’s memory is dedicated to saving your router’s settings. That way, if the power goes out or your router is turned off, it’ll have the same configuration when you restart it.
Why’s this important?
It’s important because when you back up your router, you’re essentially taking a snapshot of the memory that stores your router’s settings. In other words, your router’s memory from that moment in time will be copied to your computer’s hard drive or other storage device.
Ok, so a copy of your router’s memory will be saved. What sorts of settings does your router store in memory?
The easy answer is, just about all of them.
Essentially any configuration change you make to your router will be saved if you back it up.
To give a few examples, your router stores the following in memory:
- Your router’s settings password
- Your wireless network names (i.e. SSIDs) and passwords
- The type of encryption your router uses
- The default Domain Name Server (DNS) you’re using
- Quality of Service (QOS) settings
- Parental settings
The list goes on and on.
Think of it this way: Anything you’ve changed on your router will be saved if you back it up.
This is important information to know. If you plan on performing a factory reset of your router and you have a backup you’re planning on restoring after the reset, you need to know what to expect.
The good news is, all the settings that were in place when you performed the back up will be restored.
How to save your router configuration
Ok, now we have all the background we need. We’re ready to back up our router’s settings.
So how do we do this?
There’s only one way to back up your router, and that’s through your router’s settings.
As a note, I’ll perform these steps on my TP-Link Archer A7 router. Even if you have a different router, the steps you need to take will likely be similar to mine.
Let’s take it from the top.
First you need to get to your router’s login page.
Accessing your router’s login page
If you don’t know how to get there, you have a few options. The first one is to physically inspect your router. There should be a sticker on it that tells you the address of your router’s login page.
Here’s what the sticker on my router says:
As you can see, I can access my router’s login page at http://tplinkwifi.net.
The second option is to enter the IP address of your router into your browser’s search bar.
You can find out your router’s IP address by using the ipconfig command on a Windows computer that’s connected to your home internet.
Start by typing “cmd” in your computer’s search bar. In the results that pop up, select “Command Prompt”
When the Command Prompt window opens, type “ipconfig” and press enter.
In the results that pop up, search for “Default Gateway”. That’ll give you the IP address of your router.
From the results above, you can see that my router’s IP address is 192.168.0.1.
You can access your router’s login page by entering your router’s IP address in your browser search bar.
As a note, if you have a Mac or Linux computer the steps are very similar but you need to use the “ifconfig” command instead of “ipconfig”.
Logging in to your router
Ok now you should be on your router’s login page.
Log in to your router with your username and password. If you haven’t set a personal password for your router, you should be able to log in to it with its default username and password. This information can most likely be found on the sticker that’s on your router as well.
As a side note, if you haven’t changed your router’s password away from the default, I suggest you do so immediately. It’s a great security risk to keep the default password for your router.
Ok back to the task at hand.
Now you should be logged in to your router. What’s next?
Back up your router
Now that you’ve logged into your router’s settings, you need to find the option for backing it up.
This will most likely be on the Advanced Settings page.
I can access my Advanced Settings tab from the main settings page.
On the page that pops up, there are categories of advanced settings on the left-hand side. I need to select the “System Tools” option.
When I click the System Tools option, a list of settings is shown. One of the options is the Backup and Restore settings category. This is what we’re looking for.
This brings us to the Backup and Restore settings page.
On this page, it’s pretty easy to see where I need to go next. I need to select “Backup”.
After selecting “Backup”, you’ll have the option of selecting where you want to save your router’s settings. You have a few options here.
You can save your router’s settings somewhere on your computer, or if you have one you can save it on a portable flash drive.
Another option would be to store your router’s settings on the cloud or an external hard drive if you want to get really crazy.
Once you’ve determined a location to save your router’s settings, press “OK”. Almost as soon as you’ve done this, the file will be saved to the location you chose.
Here’s what my backup file looks like:
The settings file is a binary file that doesn’t take up hardly any space at all. As you can see it’s only 16 kilobytes in size. For those that are not technically-savvy, that’s really small.
At this point the process is complete.
Congratulations, you’ve officially saved the configuration of your router.
How do I restore my router’s settings?
Now that you’ve backed up your router, how do you load these saved settings back onto your router?
After all, that file you saved is no good unless you can actually put it to use.
You’ll be happy to hear the process is very similar to the steps you followed for backing up your router. Basically, you need to get back to the “Backup and Restore” settings menu in the Advanced Settings tab of your router’s settings.
Let’s recap. Here are the cliff notes to help you get back there:
- Log in to your router
- Access the “Advanced Settings” tab from your router’s main settings page
- Select the “System Tools” settings heading
- In the dropdown selections that appear, select the “Backup and Restore” settings page
Restoring your saved file
If you followed the steps above, your screen should look like this:
From here the steps are pretty simple.
First, you want to select the “Browse” button under the Restore header. This will allow you to select the router backup file you want to restore to your router.
Once you’ve navigated to the location where you saved your router’s configuration file, select it and press “Open”.
You should see the name of your router’s settings file in the text box.
Now you’re ready to restore your settings to your router. Select the “Restore” button.
This will kick off the process of restoring your settings. It’ll take a few minutes for this task to complete, because your router will need to:
- Load the settings from the file you selected
- Write the settings from your backup file to the router’s memory
- Reboot with the settings from the backup file
During this process, you’ll see a status bar indicating how the restoration is going. Here’s an example:
Once the status bar reads 100%, the process will be complete. Your router will have a connection to the internet and it’ll have the same settings as it did when you backed it up.
In performing this process, you’re ensuring that all the time you spent configuring your router wasn’t a waste.
You should also have peace of mind because you have an insurance policy in case you ever need to factory reset your router in the future. Hopefully that day never comes, but at least you’ll be prepared if it ever does.
Congratulations, now you know how to back up and restore your router’s configuration.
I know I’ve said this before, but I feel like I need to hammer the point home: Take a few minutes to save your router’s settings. You won’t regret it.
If you have any questions or you’d like to share your experiences with backing up and restoring your router’s settings, please leave a comment below.
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