What is a router and what is it for?A router is a small device that makes it possible for your home network (your personal computer and other devices) to communicate with the internet. Like the name implies, this piece of network hardware “routes” information between your devices and the internet, taking information from several networks and delivering it to your connected home devices. This is no small task. Quickly and correctly delivering information –which can be anything from an email to a movie– can take up a lot of bandwidth, but your router directs this incoming and outgoing traffic in the most efficient way possible. It also means that the router is the first line of defense against unwanted users on your network, and by correctly configuring your router you can keep your computer and information safe from attack.
How does a router work?Routers connect a modem to your computer and other devices, making communication between these device and the internet possible. Most routers have several network ports so that several devices can connect to the internet at the same time. Routers have two Internet Protocol (IP) addresses –a unique string of numbers– that help identify it and make it possible for the router to communicate with other devices and “route” your online requests. Each of the router’s “interfaces” have an assigned IP address. The first router interface is called the WAN (Wide Area Network) interface, which connects with the internet and has a public IP address. The second router interface is called the LAN (Local Area Network) interface, which connects with the home network’s computers and has a private IP address. One of the router’s main tasks is to assign an IP address to the devices on a home network, in order to ensure that it routes data to the right place. We’ll see how IP addresses are used to connect to your router in more detail below.
What are the reasons to log in to your router?There are a number of reasons that you might need to log in to your router:
- network adjustments and configuration: changing your router’s name and password is the most common reason the vast majority of people configure their router.
- filter and block intruders: this is another one of the most common reasons for connecting to the router. The configuration console makes it possible to see if other devices are connected to your network and block them if necessary.
- port forwarding: this means opening specific ports on your router to allow a certain application to access your network. It essentially makes it possible for applications to work through your router’s usual firewalls and security that would otherwise keep these ports closed; it is important to remember, however, that opening ports on your router also leaves your network vulnerable to attacks.
- firmware updates: having an updated version with the latest security patches is crucial for keeping your computer and router safe, and firmware can be updated manually from the configuration console.
How to log in to your routerLogging on to your router is a quick and easy process. Simply follow these steps to connect to your router:
- First things first: check that your computer is connected to the router. This connection can be a physical one (via an Ethernet cable) or wireless.
- Make sure you know the router’s IP address. The default IP address is often found on the sticker on the back of the router, and most routers are designed to use a default address like 192.168.0.1 or 192.168.1.1.
- Open a web browser like Chrome, Firefox, or Explore, and use the router’s IP address to request a connection to the router. For example, if the IP address is 192.168.1.1, type http://192.168.1.1 in the address bar.
- Enter the admin login information (username and password) to authenticate and access the router’s settings. Routers are manufactured with default usernames and passwords (often found on the sticker on the back of the device); this is usually the word admin.
Can’t log in to your router?If the browser returns an error message after trying the router’s username and password, your computer might not be connected to the right router or the username/password combo might not have been correct. To troubleshoot, check again to make sure that you’re using the correct IP address for the router login and try the following steps:
- Reboot your router. Simply press the power button to turn off the router, wait a few seconds, and then turn the router on again.
- Disable firewalls. Firewalls could be part of your computer’s antivirus or internet security software, or an application that you’ve installed. Temporarily disable the firewalls to check if they are causing the error.
- Reset the router to factory settings (this will restore the router to its default IP address, username, and password). You can usually do this by pressing a reset button or inserting a pin into a reset hole.