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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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.
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.