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How to connect to a router: find its IP address and change settings

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Intro


If you need to change your Wi-Fi password or another setting, you need to use your router‘s web interface.

To access these settings you need to know the router’s IP address. You can find the IP address using ipconfig, and we’ll show you how to do this and then log in.

These days routers all come with Wi-Fi enabled and secured. Typically you’ll find the Wi-Fi password on a label stuck to the router, and it may even show the user name and password and default IP address.

It’s trickier for older routers, especially if someone has changed the IP address, password or you’ve simply forgotten the details.

Wi-Fi issue?


If you can’t access your router via Wi-Fi, connect an Ethernet cable between your router and your PC or laptop.

We’re using Windows 8 here, but the process is similar for Windows 10, Windows 7 and Vista.

Command prompt


Next, bring up a command prompt by typing ‘command’ in the Start menu search box (or Windows 8 Start screen) and choosing Command Prompt. (Or just press the Windows key and ‘R’ together and type cmd then press Enter.

At the prompt type ipconfig and press Enter. You will see a list of the network adapters in your PC. Look through the information to find the number next to Default gateway. This is the IP address of your router.

Connect


Now, open a web browser and type the default gateway number – in this case 192.168.3.1 – into the address bar, then press Enter. Don’t add http:// before the IP address.

You should now see the login screen for your router. (If not, go to the next step)

Common router IP addresses are 

  • 192.168.0.1
  • 192.168.1.254 (BT Home Hubs)
  • 192.168.1.1

Again, you can check the sticker at the bottom of your router or its manual for the default address.

In rare cases, you might need to add a colon and a port number at the end (such as 192.168.0.1:443), but most home routers won’t need this. 

Troubleshooting


If you don’t see the login screen, it could be because the gateway IP address has been manually entered under your network adapter settings.

To check, open Control Panel and search for ‘network’. Click on View Network Connections under Network and Sharing Center.

Right-click on the adapter you use to connect to the internet (typically the wireless one or Ethernet for a PC) and choose Properties.

Then scroll down the list to find Internet Protocol Version 4. Click on it and then click the Properties button.

Make sure Obtain an IP address automatically is selected, and also Obtain DNS server address automatically.

Now repeat the previous steps to see if this has fixed the problem.

Reset


If you’ve forgotten your router’s username and password, you’ll need to reset it to factory settings. This is usually achieved by pressing a button or inserting a paper clip or pin into a reset hole.

Note: Before you do this, bear in mind that you will lose any settings you’ve made and may have to re-enter your broadband username and details if you don’t have a backup. It’s not a major issue if you have those details to hand, however.

Check your manual to find out how long to hold the button for in order to reset it. The router will need to be connected to the mains and turned on in order for this to work.

After resetting your router you can follow the earlier steps to connect to the router’s management interface.

If your reason for accessing your router’s settings was to configure a Wi-Fi network, you can now do so. It’s worth changing the Wi-Fi network name to something memorable, but it’s most important to set a password.

If possible, choose WPA2 security rather than WEP.

While you’re at it, change the password for the router’s interface to prevent anyone else accessing your router’s settings.

Stick a label on the router so you won’t forget the IP address, Wi-Fi password and router username and password.

Extra checks


If you still can’t connection your router, make sure any software firewalls are disabled. These might be part of your antivirus or internet security software, or a standalone application such as ZoneAlarm.

Temporarily disable these to see if they are causing the problem. Windows’ built-in firewall shouldn’t cause a problem.

Check also for other software such as parental control applications which may prevent you from accessing certain websites – a router’s settings interface is just a website.

There could also be settings within your web browser which are causing a problem, so try a different browser to eliminate this as an issue.

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