How to Factory Reset Your Router

Give yourself a fresh start without having to buy a new router

For most modern routers, doing a complete factory reset requires only a few steps:

  1. Make sure your router is plugged in.
  2. Find the reset button (usually inside a tiny hole on the back).
  3. Insert a paperclip into the hole to hold down the button for 30 seconds.
  4. Release the button, and wait for your router to power back on.

This should reset all your router settings to what they were when it first came out of the box.

Still having some issues or not sure if a full reset is what you need? Let’s go into some more detail about how and why to reset your router.

Looking to upgrade to a faster, stronger, or more reliable router? Check out our review of the best routers you can get for your home network.

Why reset your router?

Resetting your router to its factory default settings isn’t something you need to do on a regular basis, but it can be a useful troubleshooting tool in certain situations. This is a much more drastic step than simply restarting it. You can think of a factory reset as erasing all the data and settings on the device and starting from scratch.

You might want to reset your router in these situations:

  • You’re troubleshooting a problem on your home network and other methods like power cycling haven’t worked.
  • You’ve been locked out of your device’s administrative web interface.
  • You plan on selling, giving away, or otherwise disposing of your device.
  • You think there might be malware on your device.

There are some downsides to performing a full factory reset. It removes all of your custom settings and information, including passwords and network names. So you have to set up your home network all over again once the reset is complete. Most routers allow you to back up your data, which can make the process a bit faster.

Pro tip:

Once you reset your router, you won’t be able to use it to connect to the internet until it’s set up again. It’s a good idea to download any manuals, instructions, or other materials beforehand or make sure that you have a device, like a phone, that can connect to the internet using something other than your home network.

What else can you try?

Before you try to do a full factory reset on your router, there are a few things you should try first. These procedures are much easier to perform and won’t erase your data and settings.

Reboot your router

A full factory reset is different from simply rebooting your device (also known as power cycling), though both deal with clearing your device’s memory.

When you reboot your router by powering it down, it clears all the information in volatile memory, or RAM. This works the same way as if you experienced a power outage while writing an essay on your computer. When the power comes back on, everything you had written recently would be gone, but anything saved to your hard drive would still be there.

The problems with your router are often caused by errors in the programs currently running. When you reboot the router and those programs start up again, the errors are gone, just like our example of the essay. That’s why it’s always a good idea to try rebooting your router first to see if that fixes your problems.

If a reboot doesn’t fix the problem, you might need to reset. A reset not only clears your volatile memory, but your non-volatile memory, or hard drive, as well. It’s like erasing your essay (and everything else) from your computer’s hard drive. The entire essay would be gone from your computer (though you could still have it backed up elsewhere).

When the problem with your router isn’t just with the software currently running, but with some bad data saved on the device (or a saved password that you can’t remember), that bad data doesn’t go away when you turn the power off. To clear it out, you need to erase it by resetting the device.

Update your firmware

If a reboot isn’t fixing your problem and you’re considering the nuclear option, there is one more step you can try first: updating your firmware. Firmware is the built-in software that controls the router and allows it to manage your home network. Just like computer operating systems, firmware is occasionally updated to fix bugs or improve performance.

If your router hasn’t been running as well as it used to or it has begun to develop small problems, this problem might have already been fixed in a firmware update. To update your firmware, go to the manufacturer’s website and look up your device for updates and instructions. Some routers also allow you to update firmware or set up automatic updates from their settings menu.

A firmware update won’t fix every problem, such as forgetting your password or removing malware, but it’s a good thing to check when you’re dealing with unidentified router issues.

How do you reset your router through its settings menu?

If your router doesn’t have a reset button, you can still reset it to factory settings by logging in via the web interface. Most routers also allow you to back up your settings from the web interface.

To reset your router through the web interface, follow these steps:

  1. Find your router’s IP address.
  2. Type the address into your browser.
  3. Log in using your username and password.
  4. Find the factory reset option (usually found under Settings or System).

If you saved your settings before resetting, the option to restore those settings is usually located in the same menu.

I reset my router. What next?

Once you’ve reset your router to factory settings, you need to set it up like it’s a brand new router. You can do this by logging into its settings menu. It’s helpful to have the manual, but routers also often have the default username and password (often simply “admin” and “password,” but this varies by brand) printed on a sticker stuck to the back or underside of the router.

During this process, you also set up your home network’s name and password and reconfigure any built-in parental controls or other network management tools.

This is also a good time to update your router’s firmware to the most recent version. A factory reset sends your router back to the earliest version of its firmware, so it’s likely your firmware will be out of date. This is especially true for older routers.

Looking for tools to find out how much internet speed you’re getting on your home network? Check out our internet speed test to get info on download speed, upload speed, and latency.

 

 

 

When is it time to upgrade?

If you’ve reset your router, set it back up, and it’s still not working the way you want, it might be time to replace it. Before you do, make sure the problem is your router, not your provider. If the problem is definitely your router, get a new one.

If you’re looking for recommendations, check out these reviews from our home network experts:

Is your provider the reason your internet is slow? Check out providers in your area to see if there are faster, cheaper options available.

Author -

Peter Christiansen writes about satellite internet, rural connectivity, livestreaming, and parental controls for HighSpeedInternet.com. Peter holds a PhD in communication from the University of Utah and has been working in tech for over 15 years as a computer programmer, game developer, filmmaker, and writer. His writing has been praised by outlets like Wired, Digital Humanities Now, and the New Statesman.

Editor - Rebecca Lee Armstrong

Rebecca Lee Armstrong has more than six years of experience writing about tech and the internet, with a specialty in hands-on testing. She started writing tech product and service reviews while finishing her BFA in creative writing at the University of Evansville and has found her niche writing about home networking, routers, and internet access at HighSpeedInternet.com. Her work has also been featured on Top Ten Reviews, MacSources, Windows Central, Android Central, Best Company, TechnoFAQ, and iMore.