Which security option is best for a wireless router?

Wi-Fi security is paramount – without it, there are many things that someone could do on your wireless network – things that range from minor or barely noticeable all the way up to flat out illegal – and everything in between.

A case for security

arm coming through computer screen

Honestly, most people that are looking for Wi-Fi networks with no security or weak security are simply looking for free internet access. These people just want to check their email, surf the web, or download something without paying for internet access.

They don’t really have any hostile intent for your network.

However, there are also more sinister people looking to gain access to a wireless network for unsavory uses, such as:

  • To steal your data – perhaps they can get your credit card number or tax information to use it for fraud, or maybe they want to steal photos or other personally identifiable information and use it to blackmail or otherwise expose you
  • To invade your privacy, search for risque photos, or access sensitive financial information
  • To download or upload illegal content online without being traced back to them – things like copyrighted material, illegal software, or child pornography
  • To hack or attack other systems without being traced
  • To download or upload large amounts of data without it slowing down their own internet connection

Ultimately, it comes down to this – someone is using something of yours without paying for it and without your permission. Is that really something you are okay with?

You could be liablemasked computer hacker

Furthermore, if the perpetrator does something illegal online using your internet connection, the authorities can investigate the source IP address. This will lead them to your ISP – upon which they can subpoena your ISP to provide the associated subscriber’s name and address.

Guess whose door they will come knocking on next? Yours.

The scary part is, it could be the guy next door, someone parked in the street, or a neighbor down the road. It is very difficult to physically locate the person.

Isn’t it easier to just set up ample security from the start to ensure that you are keeping all potential unwanted guests out?

Security Methods

iphone wifi encryption selection

There are several different modes and methods you can use to secure your wireless network. The easiest, most common, and most effective solution is to enable the proper type of security and encryption protocols on your router.

This will not only prevent someone from joining your network who doesn’t have the password, it will also prevent anyone in the area from eavesdropping on what you are doing online.

The main security protocols are:

  • Open/None (AKA, no security)
  • WEP (weak security, very easily cracked)
  • WPA (better, but still weak)
  • WPA2 (best for home use)
  • WPA Enterprise (ok, for business)
  • WPA2 Enterprise (best, for business)

Can you use the Enterprise versions at home?

I can see why you would want to – the enterprise versions of each protocol renew/update their keys at a set interval, whereas their non-enterprise counterparts simply use a pre-shared key. This key update makes the enterprise versions rock-solid secure, since the key is always changing.

A typical user would not want to attempt using an Enterprise protocol at home due to the advanced knowledge required to set it up. Additionally it requires setting up a dedicated server to make everything operational.

The vanilla WPA2 protocol is enough for most users and is much easier to set up and manage.

The best security option

For home users, WPA2 is currently the best choice. If your router gives you the choice of using TKIP or AES with WPA2, choose AES.

 

wireless security signAdditional security settings

Utilizing WPA2 on your router with a strong passhrase provides plenty of security for most users. If you are extra paranoid, you can also employ some additional security methods.

Here are some additional security settings that can optionally be enabled to enhance security on your wireless network. These features are not as robust or as easy to implement as enabling WiFi security/encryption – they are intended merely to be supplements to the security of your network.

Basically, you should not enable these options without security/encryption and expect your network to be secure.

Disable SSID broadcast:

 

With the SSID broadcast disabled on your router, people won’t be able to see your Wi-Fi network, or they will only see an “unnamed network” in their list of available Wi-Fi networks. Connecting to a network with SSID broadcast disabled is more difficult – you will have to manually define your SSID in your computer’s network settings before it will connect.

Fewer people will notice your network, but advanced users can still easily find your network using the right tools. Simply disabling the SSID broadcast also does nothing to protect your privacy as information is transmitted through the air – you need security/encryption for that.

If you are connected to an Open Wi-Fi network (one that does not use encryption), anyone that knows what they are doing can intercept your traffic and view what you are doing online without you knowing it.

MAC address filtering:

 

Like disabling the SSID broadcast, utilizing MAC address filtering will also do nothing to protect your information from eavsdroppers.

It will, however, make it more difficult for an unauthorized user to access your network. MAC filtering works like a whitelist – where only MAC addresses that are defined on the list can communicate on the network.

That said, advanced users can ‘sniff’ for a valid/authorized MAC that is currently in-use on the network, and then spoof their MAC to use an authorized one.

Enabling MAC filtering also makes managing your own wireless network very cumbersome – any time you want to connect a new device to your wireless network, you first have to log in to your router and add the new device’s MAC address to the whitelist.

Best Router for a Guest Network

Best Router for a Guest Network

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could give guests access to your Wi-Fi without worrying about them having access to everything on your network such as your files, computers, security cameras, etc.

Previously I had wondered this as well. I always cringed a little bit when I gave out my Wi-Fi password.

Even though I typically only gave it out to people I trusted, such as friends and family, you never really know if the information might be shared later.

Another concern is that you never know what may happen to a device that has your Wi-Fi credentials stored on it. Perhaps you give your password to a friend today, and maybe their tablet gets stolen tomorrow.

The thief could potentially find and access your wireless network from the tablet, or even worse, extract the password from it and share it on the dark web.

Another common scenario would be if your friend sold or gave their tablet to someone else, which could easily lead to your password being compromised.

The point is, once you start to give out your Wi-Fi password, you have lost control of the potential security implications that its distribution might bring about later.

Luckily, there is another way. Many modern routers feature guest network capability, which does exactly what its name implies – it allows you to create a special Wi-Fi network for your guests.

How it works

The guest network will have a different name (SSID) and a different password. Devices that join the guest network will still be able to access the Internet, but they will be restricted from accessing any of your private internal network resources, such as file shares (NAS), printers, security cameras, and more.

This means that you can give out your guest network credentials to friends and family without worrying so much about your security.

Additional Features

Some routers will have additional advanced guest network settings such as the ability to throttle bandwidth, define access schedules, etc.

Bandwidth Throttling

Routers that support guest network bandwidth throttling allow you to define how much bandwidth your guests can use. Sometimes, this limit is a global limit (enforced across the sum of all users) and others this limit is enforced per-user.

For example, my home broadband connection runs at 40Mbps download and 5Mbps upload. In light of this, I have chosen to set my guest user bandwidth policy to 5Mbps download and 1Mbps upload.

This is plenty of bandwidth that a typical guest user would need. It is enough for basic surfing or even streaming a video on YouTube.

It prevents a guest user from (knowingly or unknowingly) abusing access and consuming large amounts of bandwidth by downloading something large, running BitTorrent, etc.

This ensures that my family will still have an enjoyable experience online, since the majority of my bandwidth will be reserved for them.

Access Scheduling

Some routers support the ability to define a schedule for guest network access.

For example, if you only want your guest network to be available on weekdays between 8AM and 5PM, you can configure this.

Any time outside of that schedule, the guest network won’t even appear in the list of available networks and no device will be able to connect to it. How’s that for cool!?

Best Router for a Guest Network – TP-Link Archer A7

TP-Link AC1750 Smart WiFi Router (Archer A7) -Dual Band Gigabit Wireless Internet Router for Home, Works with Alexa, VPN Server, Parental Control, QoS
  • JD Power Award ---Highest in customer satisfaction for wireless routers 2017 and 2019
  • Router for wireless internet, works with Alexa, compatible with all Wi-Fi devices, 802.11ac and older
  • Dual band router upgrades to 1750 Mbps high speed internet(450mbps for 2.4GHz, 1300Mbps for 5GHz), reducing buffering and ideal for 4K streaming
  • 3 external antennas for long range Wi-Fi
  • Gigabit Router with 4 Gigabit LAN ports, fast access to multiple connected wired devices, Ideal as a gaming router

The TP-Link Archer A7 features all of the Guest Network capabilities mentioned above. Not only does it have the capability to create a basic guest network, but it also allows for bandwidth throttling and access scheduling.

Configuring the Guest Network features can be done easily from the administrative interface:

Archer C7 Guest Network Configuration

As you can see, you can easily configure an access schedule from the Web UI:

Archer C7 Guest Network Configuration

Configuring bandwidth throttling is equally easy:

The team here at Infravio loves the Archer A7 from TP-Link and we recommend it to our readers regularly.

TP-Link AC1750 Smart WiFi Router (Archer A7) -Dual Band Gigabit Wireless Internet Router for Home, Works with Alexa, VPN Server, Parental Control, QoS
  • JD Power Award ---Highest in customer satisfaction for wireless routers 2017 and 2019
  • Router for wireless internet, works with Alexa, compatible with all Wi-Fi devices, 802.11ac and older
  • Dual band router upgrades to 1750 Mbps high speed internet(450mbps for 2.4GHz, 1300Mbps for 5GHz), reducing buffering and ideal for 4K streaming
  • 3 external antennas for long range Wi-Fi
  • Gigabit Router with 4 Gigabit LAN ports, fast access to multiple connected wired devices, Ideal as a gaming router

The Archer A7 features a host of great features and specifications beyond its guest network capability, which explains its high ratings and widespread popularity.

What is the best channel for my wireless router?

wifi logo

The best channel for your wireless router is the one that has the least amount of interference on it.

Strictly speaking, all channels are the same. Lower channels don’t have more bandwidth than higher channels or vise-versa.

In other words, if you were all alone on a desert island and it was just you, your laptop, and router, you would have the exact same experience on every channel.

This is because you would be the only device on your Wi-Fi network, and there would be no nearby Wi-Fi networks or other sources of interference.

Unfortunately, we don’t all live on islands by ourselves – free of frequency interference and bathed in high speed internet.

 How Wi-Fi works

 

tv remote channelWi-Fi is a shared communication medium. This means that all nearby wireless devices (yours, your kids or roommates, and even your neighbors) are competing for use of the same airspace.

Now within that airspace, there are multiple channels available for use – like channels on your television, each with something different going on.

Now think of the activity going on in a channel as a phone conversation. All nearby wireless devices that are on your channel (or an adjacent overlapping channel – more on this in a moment) are like a group of people that are all on a conference call. Only one person can speak at a time.

If there are only two or three people on the call, everyone can say what they need to say without much of a wait. But on a call with 50 participants for example, people are going to have to wait a long time to speak.

Wireless communication works the same way. The more devices, nearby networks, and interference there is, the slower and less reliable your Wi-Fi network will be.

Yes, the channel you pick matters, but only sometimes

Manually picking a wireless channel is becoming a thing of the past on 5GHz networks, but it still matters on your 2.4GHz network.

2.4GHz

If you are using a 2.4GHz radio, which most likely you are, (most older routers run exclusively at 2.4GHz and newer routers have dual-band 2.4GHz AND 5GHz radios) then you should be using one of the three non-overlapping channels.

This would be channel 1, 6, or 11

The reasoning for choosing 1/6/11 is complex, but suffice to say that all of the 2.4GHz channels overlap with each other to some degree.

What does overlapping mean? It means that devices in nearby channels will interfere with each other, even though they aren’t in the same channel. Kinda defeats the purpose of having channels, doesn’t it? Don’t get me started.

So why choose 1, 6, or 11? Because it is the most efficient strategy.

If you need 3 wireless routers or access points in the same room, putting one on channel 1, one on channel 6, and one on channel 11 is the best strategy. No other choice would allow all three devices to operate without interfering with each other.

Sure, there are other non-overlapping choices you could make – channel 2 and 10 don’t overlap, for example. But 1/6/11 is the only choice that will give you three independent channels.

 

2.4ghz wifi channels

 

OK I’m using a recommended channel, now what?

Using channel one, six, or eleven makes it a little easier to avoid adjacent-channel interference – but only if the other wireless networks near you are using the same strategy. The problem comes in when someone nearby is using one of the other channels (2-5 or 7-10).

For example, if you were being good and chose channel 1 or 6, but your neighbor next door is using channel 3 or 4, your neighbor’s network is still going to interfere with yours. You could try changing your router to use a different channel, but it may be difficult to find one that doesn’t interfere with someone else, especially in multifamily housing or apartments.

If everyone would only use 1, 6, or 11, the world would be a better place – but unfortunately this is not the case. Still, you can do your part by picking one of these non-overlapping channels.

5GHz

5GHz Wi-Fi is the future and you should be using it now if your router AND your devices support it. I say ‘AND’ because many devices still only support 2.4GHz networks.

For example, just thinking of a few devices in my house, my Chromecast, Sony smart TV, robotic vacuum (Roomba clone), and my laptop all lack 5GHz radios. Yep, they only operate at 2.4GHz. This means that I must leave my 2.4GHz radio enabled on my router, or I will not have connectivity with these devices.

radio channel frequency

Why is 5GHz better?

The 5GHz spectrum is wider and supports more channels. In the US, there are 25 channels in the 5GHz spectrum, and all of them are non-overlapping.

In addition to the higher availability of non-overlapping channels, 5GHz radios also support higher throughput (albeit at slightly shorter range due to the higher frequency) and technologies like multiuser-MIMO, which acts as a sort of channel bonding.

 

Disclaimer: This article applies to users in the United States. If you live in a different country, check with your national communications regulatory/authority, as the laws regarding the frequencies you can use will likely be at least a little bit different.

What is the best WiFi Router for Comcast?

What is the best Wi-Fi router for Comcast?
Top Pick
NETGEAR Nighthawk Smart Wi-Fi Router, R6700 - AC1750 Wireless Speed Up to 1750 Mbps | Up to 1500 Sq Ft Coverage & 25 Devices | 4 x 1G Ethernet and 1 x 3.0 USB Ports | Armor Security
Linksys EA7500 Dual-Band Wi-Fi Router for Home (Max-Stream AC1900 MU-Mimo Fast Wireless Router)
Amazing Router, but Pricey!
ASUS AC3100 WiFi Gaming Router (RT-AC88U) - Dual Band Gigabit Wireless Router, WTFast Game Accelerator, Streaming, AiMesh Compatible, Included Lifetime Internet Security, Adaptive QoS, MU-MIMO
NETGEAR Nighthawk X10 AD7200 802.11ac/ad Quad-Stream WiFi Router, 1.7GHz Quad-core Processor, Plex Media Server, Compatible with Amazon Alexa (R9000)
Gigabit Capable (for connections over 100M)
Range
WiFi Standard
802.11AC
802.11AC
802.11AC
802.11AD
Speed Rating
AC1750
AC1900
AC3100
AD7200
CPU Cores
2
2
2
4
Number of antennas
3 (external)
3 (external)
4 (external)
4 (external)
Prime Status
-
-
Top Pick
NETGEAR Nighthawk Smart Wi-Fi Router, R6700 - AC1750 Wireless Speed Up to 1750 Mbps | Up to 1500 Sq Ft Coverage & 25 Devices | 4 x 1G Ethernet and 1 x 3.0 USB Ports | Armor Security
Router
Gigabit Capable (for connections over 100M)
Range
WiFi Standard
802.11AC
Speed Rating
AC1750
CPU Cores
2
Number of antennas
3 (external)
Prime Status
Linksys EA7500 Dual-Band Wi-Fi Router for Home (Max-Stream AC1900 MU-Mimo Fast Wireless Router)
Gigabit Capable (for connections over 100M)
Range
WiFi Standard
802.11AC
Speed Rating
AC1900
CPU Cores
2
Number of antennas
3 (external)
Prime Status
-
Amazing Router, but Pricey!
ASUS AC3100 WiFi Gaming Router (RT-AC88U) - Dual Band Gigabit Wireless Router, WTFast Game Accelerator, Streaming, AiMesh Compatible, Included Lifetime Internet Security, Adaptive QoS, MU-MIMO
Router
Gigabit Capable (for connections over 100M)
Range
WiFi Standard
802.11AC
Speed Rating
AC3100
CPU Cores
2
Number of antennas
4 (external)
Prime Status
NETGEAR Nighthawk X10 AD7200 802.11ac/ad Quad-Stream WiFi Router, 1.7GHz Quad-core Processor, Plex Media Server, Compatible with Amazon Alexa (R9000)
Router
Gigabit Capable (for connections over 100M)
Range
WiFi Standard
802.11AD
Speed Rating
AD7200
CPU Cores
4
Number of antennas
4 (external)
Prime Status
-
comcast xfinity logo

I’m sure you’ll agree with me when I say this:

Finding a good Wi-Fi router is hard.

I mean, there are so many different brands, models, technologies, and standards to think about, it’s enough to make your head spin.

On top of that, few things are as frustrating as when technology doesn’t work right. You can never really be sure how a router is going to work until you buy one and plug it in at your home.

In this article, we’ll go in depth to review our pick for the best router for Comcast, and explain why we think it’s the best choice for you to spend your hard-earned dough on.

Do you really need a router?

It’s important to recognize that you may not need a router. Comcast may be providing you with a router already.

At a bare minimum, you need a cable modem. This is the box that the coaxial cable plugs in to and it will have an RJ-45 network connection as well, which feeds your router. This connection looks like a phone plug, only it is about twice as wide.

Some of the equipment provided by Comcast is just a cable modem, and some of is a combo device, featuring a router and a cable modem in the same device. How to tell?

back side of a cable modem
The back side of a typical cable modem – notice the single Ethernet jack at the top.
The back side of a typical cable modem + router – notice the quantity and variety of ports.

Locate the cable modem/router in your home. If it only has a coaxial connector plus a single network plug, it is likely just a modem. If it has a coaxial connector plus multiple network plugs, USB ports, antennas, or Wi-Fi symbols or branding, it is a combo device.

Comcast-provided equipment

Unfortunately, Comcast’s standard equipment provided at installation seems to vary widely depending on where you live and when you signed up, so it can be difficult to guess what equipment they provided to you. I recommend looking at your monthly bill to see if you are paying a lease fee for equipment. This will likely show a description of what the equipment is such as “modem” or “router with integrated modem”.

A word on equipment lease fees

If you are renting or leasing equipment monthly from Comcast and aren’t planning to move to an area without a cable internet option. you should consider buying your modem and/or router, instead of leasing it.

This can result in significant cost savings over time and has the bonus convenience of not needing to return anything to Comcast when you eventually disconnect service.

If all you have is a cable modem, you will generally be able to only get online on one computer at a time, and you will not have Wi-Fi. Of course, there are ways around this, but most people prefer to just buy a good ole Wi-Fi router so that they can share their Internet connection with all of the devices in their home and also have Wi-Fi.

Even if you determine that Comcast is already providing a router to you, you may still wish to buy a router so you can make your own choice on the best equipment and not be locked into what they think you should have.

Most frequently, a modem/router combo is installed – which spares the customer from having to provide a router if they don’t want to. We generally don’t like modem/router combos, since they are typically a “jack of all trades and master of none”.

If your cable modem also has router functionality, and you are planning to buy your own Wi-Fi router, I strongly suggest configuring your modem for “briged mode”.

This effectively disables the built in router functionality so that your new preferred router can perform those duties. It is best to avoid connecting routers back-to-back after all, to prevent configuration and performance issues associated with double NAT.

So what is the best router? Our recommendation is the NETGEAR Nighthawk Smart Wi-Fi Router, R6700 - AC1750 Wireless Speed Up to 1750 Mbps | Up to 1500 Sq Ft Coverage & 25 Devices | 4 x 1G Ethernet and 1 x 3.0 USB Ports | Armor Security:

NETGEAR Nighthawk Smart Wi-Fi Router, R6700 - AC1750 Wireless Speed Up to 1750 Mbps | Up to 1500 Sq Ft Coverage & 25 Devices | 4 x 1G Ethernet and 1 x 3.0 USB Ports | Armor Security

We like that it is a Tri-band router that supports the newest wireless standard, 802.11AC. It has the capability to handle the speeds that you can get from Comcast.

With Comcast, in some areas, you can get Gigabit service (and beyond) via fiber, but the majority of consumers are still on their cable network with service being delivered via the DOCSIS standard on traditional Coax cable. Speeds available to these customers usually top out around 300Mbps currently, which is still smoking fast!

Many routers that are more than a couple of years old will still have a Fast Ethernet WAN port on them, meaning that they top out at 100Mbps. You wouldn’t want to use this type of router with a 300Mbps service for obvious reasons – you simply won’t get anywhere near the speeds you are paying for, since your service will only be running at 1/3 of its potential.

The R6700 has a gigabit WAN port and is built to actually provide a Gigabit worth of actual throughput. Not all routers can make this claim.

The wireless radio on the R6700 can also support full Gigabit – under the right environmental conditions, of course (which applies to all routers, regardless of brand).

What else?

NETGEAR Nighthawk Smart Wi-Fi Router, R6700 - AC1750 Wireless Speed Up to 1750 Mbps | Up to 1500 Sq Ft Coverage & 25 Devices | 4 x 1G Ethernet and 1 x 3.0 USB Ports | Armor Security

A few other things we really liked about this router: It supports several additional features that you may or may not want to take advantage of, including Quality of Service (QoS). QoS can prevent bandwidth hogs (such as large downloads) from ruining the experience of any real time applications such as VOIP calls or video streaming that is going on at the same time.

After all, no one likes it when their Netflix stops to buffer. This router can prioritize streaming traffic so that the large download doesn’t affect anyone else in the house, for example.

The router also has excellent range for larger homes, has parental controls to help keep your kids safe online, and supports all of the current common WiFi security standards. It is also very reliable and doesn’t need to be rebooted frequently.

Additionally, it sports four wired Gigabit Ethernet ports as well as a USB 3.0 port – which can be connected to an external hardrive and then used as a NAS device to share files over the network.

You can also connect a printer to the USB port, granting the ability to print over the network. This is especially handy if your printer doesn’t already have network capability.

Again, any recent router should work fine with Comcast, but the Netgear R6700 is our choice based on the features, performance, reliability, and price.

NETGEAR Nighthawk Smart Wi-Fi Router, R6700 - AC1750 Wireless Speed Up to 1750 Mbps | Up to 1500 Sq Ft Coverage & 25 Devices | 4 x 1G Ethernet and 1 x 3.0 USB Ports | Armor Security
  • Recommended for up to 25 devices: Reliably stream videos, play games, surf the internet, and connect smart home devices
  • Wired Ethernet ports: Plug in computers, game consoles, streaming players, and other nearby wired devices with 4 x 1 gigabit Ethernet ports
  • Loaded with advanced technology: Designed with a 1GHz dual core processor, 3 amplified antennas, Beamforming plus, Dynamic QoS, Smart Connect, and more
  • USB connections: Share a storage drive or printer with any connected device or create a personal cloud storage to access from anywhere, using the 1 x 3.0 USB port
  • Safe & secure: Supports WPA2 wireless security protocols. Includes Guest Wi-Fi access, DOS, Firewall, VPN, and more.

How to access my Netgear router

Accessing your Netgear router’s web interfacenetgear login page

The process for accessing a Netgear router’s configuration screen is actually a little bit easier than most other home router brands.

This is because Netgear uses the routerlogin.com (or routerlogin.net) URL to redirect you to the Netgear router on your own network. That way, you don’t have to remember the IP address of your router. Pretty slick.

To start, open your favorite web browser

  • Clear out anything and everything in the address bar
  • Type in www.routerlogin.com OR www.routerlogin.net (either one will work)
  • Press Enter

You should be directed to the router’s login screen and prompted for a username and password. If not, verify that you spelled www.routerlogin.com or www.routerlogin.net correctly.

If you spelled it correctly, try the other routerlogin varient – assuming you tried www.routerlogin.com the first time – try again, this time using www.routerlogin.net. Likewise, if you tried .net first, try switching to .com.

If it’s still not working, try a different web browser. Also, make sure the computer you are using is connected to your network, either via Wi-Fi or wired in directly.

Find the router’s IP address

If that still doesn’t work, try finding the router’s IP address. See this article for the procedure.

Once you’ve located the router’s IP address, go back to your favorite browser and clear out the address bar again. Now enter the IP address of the router and press enter.

You should finally receive a username and password prompt to login to your router.

Login Credentials

username password login prompt

Now you’ll need your router’s administrator credentials in order to login. For Netgear routers, the username is always admin. It cannot be changed to anything else.

The password is whatever you selected when you first set up the router. It is technically a different password than your Wi-Fi password, but it is possible that you used the same password for both, so give that password a try if you’re unsure.

If you still aren’t sure what the password is, try password or 1234 which are the default passwords for most Netgear devices. Perhaps you never changed the password from the default when you first set the router up.

Reset your router’s configuration to factory defaults

If you are still unsure of what your password is, and the default passwords don’t work either, your only choice is to reset your router to the factory default configuration.

Be advised that this will require you to go through the initial set up again – you will have to set up your Wi-Fi network name (SSID), the Wi-Fi password, the new administrator password, and any other special configurations you previously had in place such as static IP addresses, PPPoE usernames/passwords, port forwarding configurations, etc.

Your internet will likely stop functioning until your router is set up again. If your ISP requires you to use a username and password with their service, make sure you have that information accessible.

If you don’t have it, I recommend contacting them and requesting the information before you reset the router – that way you don’t end up without an internet connection longer than necessary.

computer router login screen

Reasons why you would need to access your router’s management interface

Below are some of the common reasons why a person would need to access the management interface on their router. It is certainly not an exhaustive list:

  • To change their Wi-Fi network name (SSID) or Wi-Fi password
  • To change the IP address of their router
  • To change the IP address of other devices on their network
  • To set up new port forwarding on their router so that they can access their home network via the internet
  • To set up a VPN connection
  • To access/change their PPPoE credentials provided by their ISP
  • To change the hostname of their router
  • To change the Wi-Fi channel their router uses
  • To enable or disable certain bands (2.4Ghz or 5.0Ghz)
  • To check their public IP address
  • To find out how many devices are connected to their network
  • To implement parental access controls
  • To view their bandwidth usage statistics
  • To upgrade their firmware or reboot their router
  • To modify their firewall settings

Remember the steps for next time

I recommend writing down the steps you used to access your router, and the working username and password.

It’s not every day that you need to change settings on your router, but the need does arise every so often. Save yourself a headache later and write the information down now while it is fresh in your head.

What is the best Router for Google Fiber?

linksys gaming routerThe need for speed

If you are part of the small percentage of Americans that are lucky enough to live in a Google Fiber coverage area, you may be wondering, what is the best router to buy for use with your new Google Fiber service?

After all, if you are going to be getting an ultra high-speed direct fiber service to your home, you want to make sure that there are no bottlenecks in your internal network, right?

This is excellent thinking, and as a network professional, I had the same thoughts when considering Google Fiber.

Traditionally, we’ve been exposed to slow internet connections such as cable and DSL services. Typically, these services run at speeds of 25Mbps to 50Mbps, or maybe something closer to 100Mbps if you are lucky.

The speed of your internet service is limited by the slowest link in the chain. Traditionally, this was always your broadband internet connection, but that is changing.

Today, with Google Fiber and similar fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) services, you can get up to 1000Mbps (1 Gig) service at your home. Suddenly, the slowest link in the chain can easily become a device on your internal network, such as your router.

Some people still run routers that max out at 100Mbps. They literally don’t support Gigabit. And many people don’t realize it.

Google Fiber includes a router

Here’s the rub for Google Fiber subscribers: Their service includes a Wi-Fi router whether they like it for not. So, some people may not wish to buy a router for their Google Fiber service. After all, you technically already have everything you need.

When Google Fiber is installed at your home, there are at least two pieces of equipment provided. A “Fiber Jack”, which is really just a micro ONT (Optical Network Terminal) which terminates the GPON signal coming from the OLT (Optical Line Terminal) port at the nearest hut, outside plant cabinet, or data center.

Your Fiber Jack then connects to a little black box which Google has affectionately dubbed a “Network Box” (who named these things?). The network box acts as your router, terminating the service and allowing you to share the connection throughout your house.

It also supports WiFi, has a firewall, allows basic port forwarding, etc. Many of the features of your average consumer-grade router are supported by the Network Box.

What’s the problem?what chat bubble

The problem, is that per Google, the Network Box is required. Unfortunately, you can’t just plug your shiny new Netgear/Linksys/TP-Link router into the Fiber Jack and get online. You must use the Network Box – which is why the selection of a new router may be unnecessary (your traffic still goes through the Network Box, regardless of what you plug in).

So, for some users, there is no real need to use a regular router with their Google Fiber service – the Network Box is enough.

What if I want to use an aftermarket router?

Google says that you can still plug your router into the Network Box and use it, and indeed you can. You can unbox your new aftermarket router and install it just as you would with any other type of broadband internet service from Comcast, Cox, Centurylink, etc.

We should note that installing a router behind the Network Box will create a scenario where all of your traffic is getting NAT’d twice. This means that your traffic is getting translated from one type of IP address to another, twice. Usually this is only done once, but most users won’t notice a difference with their traffic being double NAT’d.

What to look for in a router to use with Google Fiber

Since you are buying a service that is high-speed, low-latency, and highly reliable, we recommend that you don’t skimp if you decide to purchase an aftermarket router. Specifically, you want a router that supports a Gigabit WAN port, the newest WiFi standard (802.11AC), and has a dual-core or better processor.

The following routers are our picks for use with Google Fiber. Any of them will work well with the service, though some are pricier than others.

Great performance at an affordable price!
NETGEAR Nighthawk Smart Wi-Fi Router, R6700 - AC1750 Wireless Speed Up to 1750 Mbps | Up to 1500 Sq Ft Coverage & 25 Devices | 4 x 1G Ethernet and 1 x 3.0 USB Ports | Armor Security
Supports Gigabit connection to Google Network Box
802.11AC Support
Beamforming
Processor Cores
2
Prime
Linksys EA7500 Dual-Band Wi-Fi Router for Home (Max-Stream AC1900 MU-Mimo Fast Wireless Router)
Supports Gigabit connection to Google Network Box
802.11AC Support
Beamforming
Processor Cores
2
Prime
-
NETGEAR Nighthawk X10 AD7200 802.11ac/ad Quad-Stream WiFi Router, 1.7GHz Quad-core Processor, Plex Media Server, Compatible with Amazon Alexa (R9000)
Supports Gigabit connection to Google Network Box
802.11AC Support
Beamforming
Processor Cores
4
Prime
-

But surely there is a way to bypass the Network Box?!

If you are a power user and feeling ambitious, there are supposedly ways to use Google Fiber’s service without a Network Box. This typically involves use of a Ubiquiti Edgerouter or setting up a PFSense box, and is completely unsupported by Google.

That information is beyond the scope of this article due to it’s advanced nature, so I’m not covering it here. But you should know that it is possible.

Can you have two routers in one house?

You are decluttering the electronics bin and remember that old router that you forgot to recycle.  You begin to wonder…

Electronics resale value falls notoriously fast and it often makes more sense to repurpose or recycle equipment versus selling.

Does this old router have any use?  Is there any reason to have two routers on the same home network?

In this article, we detail the reasons two routers may improve your home network and provide some tips on making sure your two routers play nice.

What do routers do? laptop wired to router

Obviously, your router “routes” internet traffic.  What else?

Routers request and receive content from the Internet

When you use your internet browser to Google questions that led you to this article, your router sent a request out and received an answer back from the Internet, which the router then forwarded to your specific device (laptop, tablet, phone, etc).

This is the core functionality of any router and the reason for its’ name, however routers generally serve many other needs within a network that are less known and happen behind the scenes.

Routers can listen for requests and provide configuration information for your network

A router usually acts as a DHCP server. Since other devices on your network such as laptops, printers, tablets, Smart TV’s, etc don’t generally have a network configuration when they first boot up, they rely on the DHCP server for their configuration (IP address, Gateway, DNS, etc).

Routers can function as wireless access points

With the right security settings in place, your router can safely function as a wireless access point.  Relating to security, the real muscle of a firewall in today’s world is no longer handled by your operating system but by your router.  (But go ahead and keep updating your operating system!)

Routers can extend your network’s physical size

For wired devices, your routers can also “switch” it up and act as a four-port switch, thus extending the number of devices that can be physically plugged into your network.

Why might one network need two routers?

router with lan cableIn short, to improve network range (to include the man cave), bolster coverage (to fix those dead zones upstairs), ensure reliability (you never know when the router is going belly up), and increase size (more ports in the storm).

How can you ensure your two routers will improve your network?

Multiple routers can make a network “two” crowded.  Basically, you still need to think of one router as the “one in charge” and any functionality that leads to and from the outside world must go through just that router.

Choosing one of the routers to be the liaison to the outside world provides a starting point for the ways your routers should be configured the same and how they need to be different.

What functionality do you want to make sure not to duplicate?

You need to look out for WAN (wide area network) versus LAN (local area network) port connections (how the routers access the outside world), DHCP configuration (making sure both routers aren’t handing out conflicting information to devices on your network), and the routers’ channels (ensuring your routers do not talk over one another on your own network).

Most importantly, do not connect the second router via the WAN porttwo router diagram

The WAN port (sometimes called the “Internet” port) is reserved to access the outside world.  If you connect your second router on the WAN port, duplicate routing occurs because your network is now divided by a firewall and each device that connects to your new network is NAT’d twice (once by each router).

Instead, you should connect the routers together via any of the LAN ports (numbering does not matter).  Remember, only one of your routers accesses the outside world. Refer to the diagram above.

DHCP configuration

Your home network is a bit like The Highlander – there can be only one!  With two routers, you want to disable DHCP server abilities on the second router to avoid IP address conflicts.

Otherwise, devices on your network may acquire their IP address from the router that does not have access to the outside world or the device may not be known by the primary router. This would lead to that device being disconnected from the Internet.

Make sure your routers do not use the same channel

This is especially important if your two routers are in close proximity (within fifty feet or so).  Channel duplication will cause interference and degrade the Wi-Fi performance of devices.

If your routers use 2.4 GHz, use a non-overlapping channel – see this article for help with choosing the best Wi-Fi channel.

Remember that frequencies matter

Consider whether the routers use 5 GHz versus 2.4 GHz wireless frequencies.  This impacts the range and bandwidth of routers.  A 5GHz router will provide faster data rates at a shorter distance while 2.4 GHz routers may improve coverage for farther distances at slower speeds

How should your routers be configured the same?

 

router status lights

Under most circumstances, you will want your routers to have the same SSID (bonus points if it makes your neighbors laugh), the same security and encryption (WPA2) protocols, and the same key/password.

These configurations will ensure that your Wi-Fi devices can automatically connect to your network and will roam to your second router when you go out of the range of your primary Wi-Fi network.

Should you ever have different SSIDs on the same network?

You can use different SSIDs and keys/passwords for each router if you like.  This creates a second wireless network with a different name.

This configuration does not enhance security, unless your router allows you to map each SSID to a different network connection using VLAN tagging.  When a device connects to an SSID, traffic is passed to the associated VLAN which has its own security settings.

This is an advanced topic, but can be simple to set up if your router supports “guest network” functionality. Using this feature, guest traffic can be isolated from the rest of the network or limited in the services (and speeds) it has access to.

Wrapping up

In conclusion, there are several reasons having two routers on your home network may be an improvement.

Remember one router is in charge and does all the talking to the outside world, but as far as your network’s name, the routers should usually be in agreement.  Plus, you can tell all your friends that you have a new tech upcycling hobby!

Best Router for 75Mbps Internet

For those with a 75Mbps Internet connection, it is important to buy a high performance router that is able to keep up with your speedy Internet service.

After all, 75Mbps is substantially faster than 46Mbps, which is the worldwide average Internet bitrate for fixed broadband as calculated by Ookla, one of the major players in the bandwidth and performance measurement space.

The study, which was conducted in 2018, is available here https://www.speedtest.net/insights/blog/2018-internet-speeds-global/.

Since you are paying probably $50 to $100 per month for 75Mbps Internet service (this obviously differs greatly depending on where you live), it is in your best interest to ensure that you are taking full advantage of the speed you are paying for.

router with lan cable
A typical consumer-grade router

In many cases, users may not be able to take full advantage of the speed they are receiving from their provider because their router is a bottleneck. In some cases, this is due to a license restriction, but in most cases it is simply due to old hardware that can’t keep up.

Regardless of reason, not being able to use the speed that you are paying your provider for month after month and year after year, is criminal.

In my opinion, it is a mistake to cheap out on the one-time expense of a router, which could result in wasted money month after month depending on how long you stick with a bad router.

Best for 75Mbps: Introducing the the TP-Link Archer AC1750

This router wins our recommendation for 75Mbps Internet users because it is the right mix of price and performance, and it is appropriate for those levels of throughput. I wouldn’t suggest this router for gigabit connections, but for 75Mbps it will do a great job without breaking the bank.

TP-Link AC1750 Smart WiFi Router (Archer A7) -Dual Band Gigabit Wireless Internet Router for Home, Works with Alexa, VPN Server, Parental Control, QoS
  • JD Power Award ---Highest in customer satisfaction for wireless routers 2017 and 2019
  • Router for wireless internet, works with Alexa, compatible with all Wi-Fi devices, 802.11ac and older
  • Dual band router upgrades to 1750 Mbps high speed internet(450mbps for 2.4GHz, 1300Mbps for 5GHz), reducing buffering and ideal for 4K streaming
  • 3 external antennas for long range Wi-Fi
  • Gigabit Router with 4 Gigabit LAN ports, fast access to multiple connected wired devices, Ideal as a gaming router

The TP-Link Archer-AC1750 is a cost-effective router specifically designed for home users. It has multiple features like USB support, parental controls, multiple (4) LAN ports, guest Wi-Fi capability, and more.

Typically priced under $100, the device is definitely a good value for the money, and perfectly meets the needs of midrange bandwidth users (50Mbps-500Mbps).

What we like and what we don’t like:

A word on the ‘Cons’

Most of our dislikes regarding this router involve the optional additional features such as the USB ports (used to connect external storage) or support for a 3rd party Firmware such as DD-WRT or Tomato (which is a topic for advanced users only). We don’t feel that these cons will affect most users, since many people won’t use these additional optional features.

Dual Band? Check.

The AC1750 is a dual band router, which is a basic necessity in any router nowadays. Originally, WiFi devices only used the 2.4Ghz spectrum, but starting with Wireless-N, the 5Ghz spectrum was opened up. As a result, the 5Ghz spectrum is much less crowded and also features increased channel capacity.

The 2.4Ghz spectrum tends to penetrate walls a little better and thus reaches a little further, but the 5Ghz spectrum is higher frequency and thus (theoretically) allows for higher throughput.

Additionally, many devices still ONLY support 2.4Ghz, so buying a router that includes 2.4Ghz support is still mandatory. Thus, a dual band router that supports both bands is strongly suggested.

This router features support for the current WiFi standard – 802.11AC. It sports a fast processor, six antennas, multiple USB ports, and a host of other features. It was even named PC Magazine’s “Editor’s Choice” and J.D. Power ranked the TP-Link brand highest in customer satisfaction for routers in 2017.

Easy to setup and manage

The “Tether” app from TP-Link can be used to setup and manage the router in minutes.

This provides the capability to monitor your network and make changes either from home or remotely via the Internet.

It can literally be “plug and play” if you like. Depending on your Internet provider, you can generally just plug the “Internet” port into your modem, power up the router, and be online within minutes without configuring the router.

To be fair, most routers operating this way, however (thanks to the fact that most ISP’s provide configuration via DHCP.

Additional Pros

Latest Standards

wifi logo

The router supports many of the latest networking standards such as IPv6 and 802.11 AC. Though this product is primarily a home router, you can easily use it for a small office as well.

Integrated 4-port Ethernet switch

I was looking for the perfect router for my home, the one that suited my budget and my requirements. As I had multiple devices like the desktop PC and the laptop in addition to the mobile devices, I was looking for a router that had multiple LAN ports. To be fair, many home/small office routers come equipped with an integrated 4 port switch like this one.

Mobile Application & Quality Customer Support

One thing that I found exceptionally well is the way TP-Link treats customer support. They have a dedicated round-the-clock support team who are always ready to assist you in case you have an issue with the product or its operation.In addition, it also comes bundled with a free mobile application. I used the app for the initial setup of the device. I just connected the router to power and most of the other complex things were configurable via the app.

Guest Network Capability

I often have guests and students coming to my home and asking for the password to use the internet. On my previous router, I had no option to differentiate a guest user from a home user.

The TP-Link comes with a unique solution to this issue. A guest user can login using the guest credentials and can easily access the internet but not my private network, its devices and its data. Now, that’s very innovative of the company to include this feature at this price point.

Parental Controls

Children are increasingly getting exposed to technology. This is definitely a boon considering the usefulness it offers. However, it also brings along with it negatives.

Child abuse and other sensitive visuals need to be kept away from children. The parental control feature allows you to blacklist potentially harmful websites.

USB Ports

This is definitely one of the highlights of the product and one of the main reasons that I decided to go with this. You can easily connect two peripheral devices like printers or external hard drives and make them accessible from the network.

6 Antennas (3 external and 3 internal)

Connectivity is the core of any router and TP-Link understands that like no other. The router comes with three adjustable and removable antennas at the back and three internal antennas within the device.

This ensures better range and reception, resulting in the ability to use Wi-Fi at longer distances more reliably.

16MB Flash Memory

You can easily skip this part as a technical detail. However, believe me it does bring a lot to the table. The additional flash memory has enabled the company to add more features to the first version that was launched
way back in 2014.

Price

bandwidth speedometer

I tried hard to exclude this, but come on! For a sub $100 product, the TP-Link Archer-AC1750 does pack a punch. Years of experience and understanding the customer has enabled TP-Link to come off with a real gem at an affordable price point.

Cons

Documentation isn’t exactly user friendly

The user manual is somewhat difficult to understand and can overwhelm a newbie. I recommend using the mobile app to setup the router.

USB Ports

The USB indicator is at the back – the front panel is overloaded with potentially less useful information. However, when a device is connected via USB, the indicator is on the back side of the router, making it harder to see.

Also, thanks to USB 2.0 (instead of the newer 3.0 standard), I found the file transfer a bit on the slower side. If you are using the USB ports for a printer, however, you don’t need to worry about this.

TP-Link AC1750 Smart WiFi Router (Archer A7) -Dual Band Gigabit Wireless Internet Router for Home, Works with Alexa, VPN Server, Parental Control, QoS
  • JD Power Award ---Highest in customer satisfaction for wireless routers 2017 and 2019
  • Router for wireless internet, works with Alexa, compatible with all Wi-Fi devices, 802.11ac and older
  • Dual band router upgrades to 1750 Mbps high speed internet(450mbps for 2.4GHz, 1300Mbps for 5GHz), reducing buffering and ideal for 4K streaming
  • 3 external antennas for long range Wi-Fi
  • Gigabit Router with 4 Gigabit LAN ports, fast access to multiple connected wired devices, Ideal as a gaming router

Wrapping Up

As you can see, the pros outweigh the cons. We feel the AC1750 from TP-Link is a great fit for 75Mbps Internet users. You get the performance and speed that you need, without paying more for an over-the-top router with performance and features you likely don’t need.

Best router for 200Mbps Internet

For people with a 200Mbps connection to the internet, congratulations. That is a pretty fast connection. It is definitely not the quickest, with services from some cable and fiber to the home based providers clocking in at 1Gig or 2Gig service, but it is also much quicker than the 2017 national average broadband rate of 18.75Mbps.

For most people, 200Mbps is plenty of bandwidth, even for large households. However, you’ll want to make sure you select the right router to go along with your new service to ensure that your router doesn’t hold you back and thus prevent you from geting the speeds you are paying for.

What to look for

Here is a short checklist of features you should look for for use with your 200Mbps Internet. The RT-AC68U supports all of them.

  • Stable Operation
  • Gigabit Ethernet
  • 802.11AC Wi-Fi Support
  • Dual-core CPU or better
  • Monitoring capabilities (optional, but nice to have!)
Our Pick
ASUS AC1900 WiFi Gaming Router (RT-AC68U) - Dual Band Gigabit Wireless Internet Router, Gaming & Streaming, AiMesh Compatible, Included Lifetime Internet Security, Adaptive QoS, Parental Control
NETGEAR Nighthawk X10 AD7200 802.11ac/ad Quad-Stream WiFi Router, 1.7GHz Quad-core Processor, Plex Media Server, Compatible with Amazon Alexa (R9000)
Excellent performance at an affordable price!
NETGEAR Nighthawk Smart Wi-Fi Router, R6700 - AC1750 Wireless Speed Up to 1750 Mbps | Up to 1500 Sq Ft Coverage & 25 Devices | 4 x 1G Ethernet and 1 x 3.0 USB Ports | Armor Security
Linksys EA7500 Dual-Band Wi-Fi Router for Home (Max-Stream AC1900 MU-Mimo Fast Wireless Router)
Gigabit Ethernet Supported
Wi-Fi Standard
802.11AC
802.11AD
802.11AC
802.11AC
CPU
1GHz Dual Core
1.7GHz Quad Core
1GHz Dual Core
1.4GHz Dual Core
Number and Type of Antennas
3 (external)
4 (external)
3 (external)
3 (external)
Range
Speed Rating
AC1900
AD7200
AC1750
AC1900
Max Wi-Fi Throughput
Prime Status
-
-
Our Pick
ASUS AC1900 WiFi Gaming Router (RT-AC68U) - Dual Band Gigabit Wireless Internet Router, Gaming & Streaming, AiMesh Compatible, Included Lifetime Internet Security, Adaptive QoS, Parental Control
Router
Gigabit Ethernet Supported
Wi-Fi Standard
802.11AC
CPU
1GHz Dual Core
Number and Type of Antennas
3 (external)
Range
Speed Rating
AC1900
Max Wi-Fi Throughput
Prime Status
NETGEAR Nighthawk X10 AD7200 802.11ac/ad Quad-Stream WiFi Router, 1.7GHz Quad-core Processor, Plex Media Server, Compatible with Amazon Alexa (R9000)
Router
Gigabit Ethernet Supported
Wi-Fi Standard
802.11AD
CPU
1.7GHz Quad Core
Number and Type of Antennas
4 (external)
Range
Speed Rating
AD7200
Max Wi-Fi Throughput
Prime Status
-
Excellent performance at an affordable price!
NETGEAR Nighthawk Smart Wi-Fi Router, R6700 - AC1750 Wireless Speed Up to 1750 Mbps | Up to 1500 Sq Ft Coverage & 25 Devices | 4 x 1G Ethernet and 1 x 3.0 USB Ports | Armor Security
Router
Gigabit Ethernet Supported
Wi-Fi Standard
802.11AC
CPU
1GHz Dual Core
Number and Type of Antennas
3 (external)
Range
Speed Rating
AC1750
Max Wi-Fi Throughput
Prime Status
Linksys EA7500 Dual-Band Wi-Fi Router for Home (Max-Stream AC1900 MU-Mimo Fast Wireless Router)
Gigabit Ethernet Supported
Wi-Fi Standard
802.11AC
CPU
1.4GHz Dual Core
Number and Type of Antennas
3 (external)
Range
Speed Rating
AC1900
Max Wi-Fi Throughput
Prime Status
-

Our Pick

Our recommendation for a router for 200Mbps Internet service is:

ASUS RT-AC68U

ASUS RT-AC68U
  • Dual band with the latest 802; 11 AC 3x3 technology for combined speeds of up to 1900 Mbps
  • 1 GigaHertz dual core CPU enables smart multitasking by dedicating separate lanes for Wi Fi and USB data; Network standard: IEEE 802; 11a, IEEE 802; 11B, IEEE 802; 11G, IEEE 802; 11N, IEEE 802; 11AC, IPv4, IPv6. Memory: 128 MB Flash; 256 MB RAM
  • Effortless router setup with the ASUSWRT web based interface; Dual band connectivity for compatibility and performance
  • Monitor and manage your network with ease from your mobile device using the intuitive ASUS router app
  • A protection powered by Trend Micro provides multi stage protection from vulnerability detection to protecting sensitive data; Please refer the installation manual and the user manual before use which is highly essential; Dc output: 19 Volt with maximum 1; 75 a current; Guest network: 2; 4 GigaHertz x 3, 5 GigaHertz x 3

What we like about the ASUS RT-AC68U

ASUS AC1900 WiFi Gaming Router (RT-AC68U) - Dual Band Gigabit Wireless Internet Router, Gaming & Streaming, AiMesh Compatible, Included Lifetime Internet Security, Adaptive QoS, Parental Control

The RT-AC68U has proven itself as a flagship router that can route packets at line rate (1000Mbps) without issue. This router will easily work if you end up upgrading to a Gigabit service in the future. This is good for people that like to make future-proof electronics purchases.

It is also a very stable router – It doesn’t need to be rebooted all the time, like some routers.

We also like the monitoring capabilities that can be accessed  from the ASUS app on your smartphone. You can use the app to see what is going on on your network and who/what is using bandwidth.

Finally, we like that the router supports the ASUS AirMesh feature, which allows you to connect multiple ASUS routers to your network in order to increase Wi-Fi coverage in your home. This is helpful for people with large homes or people that have issues with dead spots in their home.

Think twice before you use that old router

Make especially sure that you get a router with Gigabit Ethernet ports. Many of the older Wireless-N (802.11N) and Wireless-G (802.11B/G) routers are only equipped with 10/100Mbps Ethernet ports.

This means that the WAN port on the router can’t pass data any faster than 100Mbps. This would mean that you could only get half of the speed you are paying for if you end up using one of these routers with your 200Mbps service!

Many people think that they can just re-use an old router and it will work fine. That may be true, but in the current environment, broadband speeds are exploding.

No one used to show any concern about using a router limited at 100Mbps because broadband speeds were only in the 25-50Mbps range. Now that broadband speeds are quickly surpassing 100Mbps, you need to pay special attention to the maximum speed of the equipment on your local network, since it could quickly become the bottleneck instead of your internet connection.

This rule also applies to other devices on your local network. If you are using switches to distribute wired Ethernet to other parts of your home or to simply expand beyond the 4 wired ports provided by your router, you need to make sure that those switches also have Gigabit support.

Otherwise, you will max out at 100Mbps on any devices that connect through them.

How to Reset a Router from a Computer

All routers need to be rebooted from time to time – it’s just just a fact of life. Unfortunately, consumer-grade home routers typically need to be rebooted more frequently due to the lower grade engineering and manufacturing that goes into them compared to their business/provider-grade counterparts.

It can be very handy to have the capability to reboot your router from a computer, so we are going to cover various methods here.

If all of this sounds too complicated for you, be sure to read all the way to the end of this article where we discuss a clever alternative – rebooting (well, technically power cycling) your router from a computer using a “smart plug”

Be forewarned: If you plan to reboot your router remotely (via the Internet), all of these methods require some advance preparation – your router needs to be setup to allow remote access to the management web interface in advance. This means that you’ll need to configure remote access to your router while you are accessing it locally (from your house).

You probably won’t have much success if you are trying to reboot it remotely without the aforementioned prep work, since you likely won’t be able to gain the required access to the router to initiate the reboot.

If you are simply wanting to reset the router from a computer on your local network (within your home), this additional prep work is not necessary.

First, let’s clear up the terms –

Before continuing, I should point out – resetting a router can mean two different things: rebooting it or resetting the configuration back to factory defaults.

A simple reboot is most often what people actually mean when they say ‘reset’. We are discussing rebooting here, not resetting the router’s configuration.

Either option is typically available remotely, but it differs depending on the make and model. Just make sure you don’t actually factory reset your router when you are only intending to reboot it.

Also, consider this:

While the need to reboot occasionally is normal, if you router frequently needs to be rebooted, you might want to look into other issues that may be causing the trouble, such as the need for a firmware upgrade, overheating or other environmental issues, or issues that need to be addressed by your ISP.

Some definitions:

Remote Access: Accessing your router via the Internet. This could be from across town or across the world. Access is initiated from the outside (from the Internet) going in. For most people, 99% of your traffic is initiated from the inside going out, which is why setting up remote access requires some advance configuration (due to the inherent security concerns).


Local Access: Accessing your router from your home network – either through your own WiFi connection, or a computer that is plugged in to your router.

Why the need to reset (reboot) a router?
reset remotely button

Some of the reasons that you might need to reboot your router include:

  • router is frozen and completely unresponsive (your internet access is completely down)
  • performance is bad – the router is working but is slow or unreliable
  • certain features aren’t working – maybe you just changed a setting or enabled a feature, but it isn’t working properly
  • to rule things out – maybe you aren’t sure if the problem is your router or a problem with your ISP

Rebooting your router physically is pretty easy, simply unplug the power cord and plug it back in. But what if you want to reboot the router from a computer?

The most common reason for needing to reboot remotely, is when you are not home but need to access something on your home network like a computer, security camera, or smart home device. Or, maybe you are the most technical person in the household and a family member or roommate calls you at work to ask for help with fixing the internet.

Or perhaps you just want to reset the router without the inconvenience of going upstairs, downstairs, or across the house to physically reset it. The ability to reboot your router remotely in these cases can be very handy.

Requirements:

To accomplish a reset remotely, the following is required:

  • The router must be operational and currently passing/routing traffic. This is a big one, because often times people want to reboot their router BECAUSE it’s not currently operating. If the router is frozen or otherwise not responding, you are not going to be able to log in to it in order to reset it.
  • The routers’ admin username and password. This differs from your WiFi password and is required any time you are making configuration changes to the router. If you don’t know or can’t remember the password, be sure to try the default password – perhaps you never updated it when you first installed the router. The RouterPasswords site can help you find the default password for your make/model.
  • You need to know what the IP address of your router is. More on this in a second.
  • If you plan to initiate a reboot remotely (via the Internet), access to the router’s management web interface must be enabled from the WAN side. Most routers support this feature but it is almost always disabled by default due to security concerns. By enabling this option, your router will respond with the login page when accessed on it’s public IP just like it currently responds when you access it from home by going to http://192.168.1.1, etc.

Procedure:

Determine the IP address of your router:

If you are accessing the router from home, simply run an ‘ipconfig’ (Windows) or ‘ifconfig’ (Mac and Linux) command to see your IP address information. Included in this information, is the default gateway. This is the IP address of your router.

If you are trying to access your router while away from home, the process is a bit trickier. You will need to know your public internet IP address, which can be found by going to IP Chicken before you leave the house.

Be advised, many ISP’s will change your public IP from time to time, so you might also with to explore setting up Dynamic DNS so that you don’t have to check each time to see if your IP address has changed.

router config remote management

There is also an extra option that usually needs to be configured on the router to allow management access from the internet. This is usually a simple checkbox that says “allow management access from internet, web, WAN”, etc. In the screenshot above it is called “remote management”.

Enable this feature after you have set a secure administrator password on your router. Don’t enable it if you are still using the default administrator password.

Login and Reboot!

Once you have obtained the IP address of your router, simply put it into the address bar of your favorite web browser and hit ‘enter’. Next, enter your admin username and password to log in.

The reboot option is different on every router, but will typically be found in the ‘status’, ‘tools’, or ‘administration’ sections of the menu. I’ve even had routers that had a ‘reboot’ button right on the first page. Check your router’s documentation if you can’t find the reset option.

router is rebooting message

Once you have issued the reset command, you will lose connectivity to it for a few minutes while it reboots. You can log back in to it once it boots back up.

Other Options:

In addition to logging in via the web interface, some routers have the option to log in to the command line via telnet or SSH. This can be quicker and sometimes works when the web interface won’t load.

This is also more advanced and sometimes requires knowledge of the command line syntax to properly issue a reboot command.

Additionally, some routers have a scheduled reboot option. For example, I currently have my home router scheduled to reboot every night at midnight. I know that everyone in my house is in bed at this time, so it won’t disturb anyone, and it ensures that my router is always running fresh.

We call these ‘theraputic reboots’ in the tech industry.

Check your router’s web interface or the documentation to see if your make/model supports scheduled reboots. Most third party firmware options like DD-WRT, OpenWRT, and Tomato have this option as well.

A simpler fix

Finally, you can also get a remote power switch (AKA, a “smart plug”) and plug your router into it. Smart plugs provide a user with the ability to remotely turn the switch on and off, which would be equivalent to unplugging your router from the wall and plugging it back in to reset it.

These devices vary from remote-controlled units – which are the cheapest and most simple, but also require close proximity – to advanced IP-controlled units that can be operated from thousands of miles away via the Internet.

Disclaimer: What we are discussing here potentially has the same “chicken before the egg” problem we discussed before. That is, if your router isn’t passing traffic, you might not be able to access the smart plug in order to initiate a reboot.

Luckily, you can also schedule reboots using the smart plug – so you could schedule the smart plug to cycle the router’s plug at, say, 2AM every day. (again, you would need to configure this in advance)

I recommend the TP-Link smart plug shown below. It supports the ability to turn on/off power to the plug from your phone, and allows for scheduled power cycling as well.

Kasa Smart Plug by TP-Link, Smart Home WiFi Outlet works with Alexa, Echo,Google Home & IFTTT,No Hub Required, Remote Control, 15 Amp, UL certified, 1-Pack (HS105)
  • Control From Anywhere: Turn electronics on or off from anywhere with your smartphone using the Kasa app (Compatible w/ Android & iOS)
  • Voice Control: Works with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and MicroSoft Cortana supported devices for a hands free experience
  • Compact Design: Won't block the other wall outlet allowing two Smart Plugs to be installed side by side
  • Kasa scenes & schedules: Schedule the Smart plug to automatically switch on and off when away or set a scene for controlling many devices with a single button
  • Note: Requires a secured 2.4 GigaHertz Wi Fi network connection

Hopefully this information helps you achieve your goal of rebooting your router from a computer.