Your router is a very important piece of your home internet connection. It’s a complex device that offers a great deal of configuration options, if you so choose to use them.
Sometimes, making changes to your router can have negative affects on your home internet’s performance. Other times, you forget your router’s username and password and can’t even log in to change its settings.
The good news is there’s a safe way to restore your router to good health.
I’m taking about the factory reset option.
Performing a factory reset of your router will return it to its original default settings. In other words, your router will be reverted back to the settings it had when you took it out of the box.
A factory reset can be performed by manually pressing the reset button on your router, or it can be done by accessing the router’s settings page with your computer.
After a factory reset, you’ll be able to log in to your router with the default username and password. In addition, all the configuration settings will return to their default values. This includes your wireless network names and passwords.
In this post I’ll provide a detailed approach to performing a factory reset on your router, including when you should do it and the steps you should take immediately after a reset.
When should I factory reset my router?
There are several cases where a factory reset makes sense. Let’s take a look at each situation.
When you can’t log in to your router
Have you ever created a password for an account, only to forget it at a later date?
I’m sure we’ve all been there before.
This is probably the most common reason for performing a factory reboot on your router. If you can’t get into your router to change any of its settings, you’re only option is to restore it to its default settings.
By performing a factory reset on your router, your username and password will become the default values that they were when you first got the router. Unfortunately this also makes your router much less secure, but we’ll get into that later on.
As a note, before you factory reset your router, you should first try to log in to it with the router’s default username and password. Your default username and password can be found on a sticker on the device or in the router’s user manual. Most of the time, people never change their router’s password in the first place.
If the default username and password don’t work and you want to access your router, you should give it a factory reset.
Poor performance of your router
If your home internet starts acting funky, it may have something to do with your router.
Your router is an important piece of your home internet. If your internet connections slow to a crawl or you have trouble connecting to the internet on a regular basis, there may be a configuration setting holding it back.
In this case, there are a few things you can try before restoring your router to its default settings. The first step is to perform a reboot of your router (you can even set it to automatically reboot on a schedule if you have consistent issues). If that doesn’t solve your issues you may want to try rebooting your modem as well.
If both of those options don’t solve your problems, a factory reset might be the next thing to try. Its possible that starting over with your router might clear up whatever was slowing it down.
Keep in mind that there may be times when even a factory reset won’t help your situation. For example, if you have an old router its performance will slowly degrade over time and you will eventually have to replace it.
When you’re not sure what setting is causing poor router performance
As I previously mentioned, your router is highly customizable.
You can configure it as much or as little as you like. The problem with this is, if you make too many changes to your settings, it’s hard to keep track of them all.
If making changes to your router causes poor internet performance, how do you know what setting is causing it?
Unless you’re a highly technical person, it can be very hard to tell.
Sometimes it’s just easier to start with a clean slate.
A factory reset allows you to do just that.
To avoid making too many changes at once that may slow your internet performance, I recommend making a few settings changes to your router at a time. After making a few changes to your settings, test your internet’s performance. If it’s working properly, move on and make additional changes.
If you want to play it safe, you can even save your settings after you’ve confirmed that your internet is performing well with them. This will allow you to return your router to a working configuration at a later time if you’re experiencing problems.
What happens if I factory reset my router?
Before we dive into how to perform a factory reset on your router, let’s talk about what a factory reset does first.
A factory reset will cause drastic changes to your home network. It’s important to understand what these changes are so you’re not surprised when you perform a reset.
Resets router login information
When you restore your router to its factory settings, your router’s login password will be restored to its default value. This is the password that’s used to access and change the routers settings.
As you’ll see later, you may have the option to reset your router’s settings while keeping the password you set for it, but depending upon your router you may not have this option.
Resets WiFi network names and passwords
Do you remember the first time you set up your router?
If you do, you probably remember how your WiFi network names were very generic. On top of that, the passwords for these networks were random and hard to remember.
After resetting your router to its factory settings, your wireless network names and passwords will revert back to what they were when you first set up your router.
Many people don’t think of this when they factory reset their router.
When you think about how many devices you have connected to your wireless network, you realize how much work you’ll have to do after a factory reset.
You’ll have to reconnect all your devices to your WiFi, unless you rename your wireless networks to exactly what they were before. You’ll also have to change the passwords for these networks to the same as they were before if you want your devices to automatically reconnect.
This is not an argument against performing a factory reset on your router. I just want you to be aware of the actions you’ll need to take after you perform the factory reset.
Resets all your security and configuration settings to their default values
This is what most people think of when they perform a factory reset.
All of your router’s settings will revert back to their original state, which is their default values.
There are tons of different settings changes you can make on your router, but some of the settings that will be reset include:
- Security settings such as the type of encryption used
- Any automatic reboot schedule that’s in place
- The wireless channels the router uses, if you set it to use specific channels
- Access restrictions or parental controls on the router
- The DNS the router uses
The list goes on and on. It’s important to take a minute and think about all the customization you’ve made on your router before you reset it. Make a list of the settings changes you’ll have to go in and change again after the factory reset is completed.
The more prepared you are for the factory reset, the easier it’ll be to get your internet up and running as you want it.
How to reset your router to factory settings
There are two ways to reset your router to its factory settings. You can either manually perform a factory reset by pressing a button on your router, or you can reset your router through its settings console.
Pressing the factory reset button
Using the reset button on your router to perform a factory reset it is a fairly simple process.
You’ll first need to get an object with a point like a push pin or a paper clip that has been straightened out.
Next, you’ll want to locate the reset button on your router. It should be clearly labeled and located somewhere on the back of the router.
For example, here’s the back of my TP-Link Archer A7 router:
As you can see, the reset button is located in a little hole. This is to prevent the button from accidentally being pressed.
To factory reset your router, press and hold the reset button for 15 seconds, or until the power LED light on the front of the router blinks.
Once the router powers back on and connects to the internet, it will have its default settings in place.
Through your router’s settings console
You can also reset your modem to its factory settings with your computer.
To do this, you’ll need to log in to your router to access its settings.
The first step is to enter your router’s IP address or default access location into your browser. If you’re unsure of your router’s IP address, look for a sticker on the device.
On my TP-Link Archer A7 router, the sticker is on the bottom of the router.
I also know that my router’s IP address is 192.168.0.1 (which is the case for a lot of routers), so I can just type that into my browser.
This will bring you to the login page of your router. Enter your username and password to gain access to your router’s settings.
If you don’t remember your router’s username and password, you’ll have to factory reset your router with the manual method above.
Once you’re logged in to your router, you’ll need to access the advanced settings page. This is where you’ll most likely find the factory reset option.
The advanced settings page will provide you with tons of options for customizing your router. As is the case with my router, the advanced settings are broken into categories.
For my router, I need to access the System Tools category to get to the factory reset option.
After clicking the System Tools category, a list of subcategories is displayed. From this list I can select Backup and Restore, which brings me to the settings page I want.
On the Backup and Restore subcategory page, I can access the option to perform a factory reset of my router.
As you can see, there are multiple options for resetting your router to its default settings.
Resetting your router’s settings to their default values and keeping your login information
Since you know the username and password of your router (you need this information to log in to your router’s settings in the first place), you may just want to return all your router’s settings to their default values and keep your login and cloud information.
Keeping your login information will be useful for you if you made a settings change that is causing poor internet performance, but you’re not sure what setting is causing it.
With this option you’ll get back up and running faster. You won’t have to create a new cloud account or change your router’s password away from the default value.
This will probably be the best choice for most people who want to perform a factory reset on their router.
Resetting all configuration settings to default values
Resetting all of your router’s settings to their default values will return your router to a completely new condition.
In other words, every setting on the router will be returned to what it was when you first got it.
This is a good option if you want to start over with a clean slate and create new login information for your router.
It’s also a smart choice if you want to sell your router or return it to the store. You’ll want to wipe it clean before you hand it over to someone else.
Next steps after performing a factory reset on your router
If you perform a factory reset where all your configuration settings are reset to their default values, there are a few next steps you should take.
Log in to your router
The first step is to log in to your router’s settings console. You’ll need to do this with your router’s default username and password. You can follow the steps detailed above to log in to your router.
Change your router’s default password
Once you’ve logged in, you should first change your password away from the default value.
Keeping your routers default password is a huge security risk.
The default password of your router isn’t a secret. Chances are, there are many websites that list your router’s exact default username and password.
Check out this site for example.
See? Your router’s login information is more available than you might think.
What does this mean?
It means if a hacker was to get access to your home network, he or she would be able to log in to your router and make any changes to it that they want.
Yikes. That’s scary.
The good news is, changing your router’s password to something you know will go a long way toward making it more secure.
Change your wireless network names and passwords
While you’re changing your other settings, you should change the names of your wireless networks as well.
If you don’t, every time you want to connect a new device to your home internet, you’ll have to look up what the names of your networks are.
It’s much easier to just change your networks to names that you’ll easily remember.
Along these same lines, you should change the passwords to these newly named networks as well.
Trust me. You’ll thank me later when your friends and family come over and want to use your WiFi.
Make any desired security settings changes
The last (and definitely not the least) important changes you should make to your router after a factory reset are to make sure your security settings are in good shape.
Two of the most important are to disable WPS on your router, and to make sure you’re using the best encryption for your wireless connections (AES with WPA2).
These changes, along with changing the default password for your router, will zip up your router and home internet pretty tightly.
Of course, there are additional security measures you can take, but these are the heavy hitters that you can take care of easily while setting up your router after a factory reset.
There you have it folks. That’s the most important information you should consider when you’re thinking about performing a factory reset on your router.
Make sure you understand exactly how a factory reset will impact your home network so you’re ready to get back up and running after your router turns back on.
As always, if you have any questions or want to share your experiences, please feel free to drop a comment below.
If you found this post interesting, here are some related posts I’ve written for your viewing pleasure:
How to Automatically Reboot Your Router for Better Internet Connections
Does a Router Affect Your WiFi Speed?
What Do My Router Lights Mean?
Can a Router Overheat? A Detailed Analysis