Have you ever been away from home and needed to access something on your home computer or router?
It sounds convenient, right?
It sure would be easier than driving/flying back to your home, or asking a friend or family member to go to your house to retrieve what you’re looking for.
Well, never fear. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the process of setting up your router for accessing it remotely via the Internet.
Here’s how to access your router from the Internet:
- Change your router’s Administrative password to a secure password (don’t leave it at default!)
- Enable login capability to the router’s web interface from WAN (the Internet)
- Enable Logging/Notifications (optional)
- Determine your public IP address, or set up Dynamic DNS (preferred)
- Test it (optional)
- Log in!
If you aren’t very tech savvy, be sure to stick around until the end of the article where I discuss an alternate method that works just as well, but is easier to setup.
The need for remote access
There are many reasons someone would want to access their router from the Internet. Perhaps they need to change their Wi-Fi password for a roommate, set up remote access into their home network (called a VPN), or access files on a hard drive connected to their router.
Some people may not have a specific need to access their router from the Internet today, but they want to have the flexibility to do so in the future – since they know that they may well have the need at a later date.
Change your router’s admin password
Most routers have two different passwords – your WiFi password (which pretty much everyone is familiar with because they need to know it on a regular basis) and your admin password.
The admin password is what grants you access to the router’s management web interface, which is where you go to make changes to the router such as change/set IP addresses, change/set your WiFi network name (SSID), change/set your WiFi password, and much much more.
Most routers come out of the box with either a default password of something like ‘admin’ or ‘password’, which is very insecure. Some routers even have a blank admin password by default!
This isn’t a huge deal, because by default, the management interface is generally only accessible from a computer inside your network. However, we are about to enable access from the Internet, so you better believe it is important to change the password to something secure.
- Find the private IP of your router and enter it into a web browser. This is usually 192.168.1.1, 192.168.0.1, 10.0.1.1, or something similar (depends on the brand of your router). See here for help in identifying your router’s private IP.
- Enter your admin username and password. If you didn’t change these when you originally installed the router, they are likely still at the defaults. The username is usually ‘admin’ or ‘administrator’ and the password is usually ‘admin’ or ‘password’ by default. Again, this totally differs depending on the router manufacturer and model. If you can’t find it, I recommend searching Google for “[router model] default password”.
- Once you are logged in, you need to find the password setting. Usually there will be a “General”, “Admin”, or “Administrator” area of the settings, so try looking there. You may be able to change the username in addition to changing the password. This is recommended as it will greatly increase security. Just make sure you record it somewhere – if you forget it, you will have to reset the router to defaults to get back in.
Enable login from WAN
While you are still logged in to the router’s management interface, let’s enable remote login capability:
Generally the setting will be called something like “Allow login from WAN” or “Allow login from Internet”, but it differs widely between routers. This setting will usually live in the Advanced Settings area of the management interface.
Again, if you can’t find it, try searching Google for “[router model] login from wan”.
Enable logging and notifications
This step is entirely optional and your router may or may not support this feature. While still logged in, look for “logging”, “notifications”, or a similar section. It will likely appear under the “Advanced Settings” area or the “Admin” area.
Enable any logging you desire. This will cause the router to log events, such as when someone logs in to the management interface. You may even be able to have the router email you a notification when someone logs in – again this varies wildly by model and manufacturer.
This type of information is helpful from a security standpoint – so you will know if someone else manages to log in to your router over the internet (which would be bad!).
Determine your public IP address
I say “public” IP address, because your router actually has two IP addresses, and we are looking for the public IP, not the private IP.
Your IP address is exactly that – an address. It’s like your mailing address on the Internet. Your IP address is used anytime you want to send data to, or receive data from the Internet.
Since you are wanting to access your router from the Internet, you will need to know what your IP address is.
There are a couple of ways to figure this out:
Look on your router
One way to find your public IP address, is to log in to your router and have it show you your public IP address.
Once logged in, look for a screen or tab labeled “Status”. Every router is a little bit different, so you may have to look around a bit.
The status page will usually show your router’s status, including the “WAN” or “Internet” IP address.
Ask a website
The other easy method for determining your public IP, is to query a website.
There are many “What is my IP address?” type websites out there that will examine the traffic that your computer sends to it when the page is loading, determine the IP address your traffic is originating from, and display that address for you.
Google will tell you if you simply run a search for “what is my ip”. IP Chicken will also tell you:
Write it down
Once you have obtained your public IP address, write it down somewhere or email it to yourself. You will need it later.
Usually, this isn’t a big deal and most people don’t even notice that their IP has changed. However, when you are going to be accessing your router from the Internet, it is important to be aware that your address could change.
I’ve seen some ISP’s using DHCP and your IP address doesn’t change for months or even years. I’ve also seen some ISP’s change your address every day.
My current ISP is like this – my IP address changes every 24 hours like clockwork. Dynamic DNS is absolutely critical for me because of this.
Thus, if you are leaving for a trip and hoping to access your router from the road, it is best to record your public IP just before you leave the house to maximize your chances that that will still be the IP assigned to your router when you attempt login.
Just be aware that if your IP address changes between the time you recorded it and the time you attempt to login remotely, you will not be able to login.
For this reason, it is suggested to set up Dynamic DNS (DDNS), which will update automatically when your IP address changes. Thus, you will connect to your router using a hostname like “andrewshouse.no-ip.com” instead an IP address such as 188.8.131.52.
The DDNS server will automatically update the IP address that “andrewshouse.no-ip.com” resolves to every time it changes.
DDNS is an advanced topic and is only recommended to dabble in if you are a bit of an advanced user or if you are at least feeling adventurous!
If you want to be sure that remote login will work once you are away from home, it is best to test it beforehand.
To test, you will need to access a secondary internet connection other than your regular home broadband connection. This could be a neighbor’s house, using your internet connection at work, etc.
You could also temporarily enable the hotspot on your smartphone and tether your computer to it.
Once you are on a different Internet connection:
- Open a web browser and enter your router’s public IP address (or DDNS fully qualified domain name) in the address bar, then press the enter key.
- You should be presented with a login prompt. If you are not, try entering “http://” or “https://” before the address and press enter again. If it still doesn’t work, you may also need to append a colon and port number behind the address, such as “:8443”.
- Once prompted, enter your management credentials and log in!
You are now ready to log in remotely. Regardless of where you travel to, as long as you have an Internet connection, you should be able to log in.
Hopefully you already tested your ability to login as shown above. The procedure for logging in when you are actually away from home will be the same.
An easier way
If you are less techie and are simply looking for a solution that works, you may also want to research setting up remote access to a computer at your home via a service such as TeamViewer.
TeamViewer and similar services can be set up for free to access the computer in question over the internet.
The downside, is that the computer has to be left on and connected to your home network at all times in order to work.
The upside, is that it requires no special configuration on your router, and Dynamic DNS doesn’t need to be set up. Simply connect to the remote computer via the TeamViewer app on your smartphone, PC, or Mac, and TeamViewer takes care of the rest.
If you still needed to access your router, you could launch a web browser on the remote PC using TeamViewer, and then login to the router’s private IP address normally as if you were at home.
This solution is simpler, but also relies on TeamViewer to be working in order to function, so there are pros and cons for sure.
Regardless of which method you choose, Good luck!
Andrew Namder is an experienced Network Engineer with 20+ years of experience in IT. He loves technology in general, but is truly passionate about computer networking and sharing his knowledge with others. He is a Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) and is working towards achieving the coveted CCIE certification. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.