Losing the login information to your router is common, and can happen for a number of reasons. The first reason is that it may not necessarily be any credentials that you set yourself, as routers often come with prefixed usernames and passwords. For example, in home use, a username is commonly admin and a password could be admin as well, or simply just password. If your router is from an Internet Service Provider (ISP), the username is usually admin, but has a prefixed password that the ISP setup for all of its routers.
Another scenario: you may have bought a used router from someone, but they forgot to hand you the credentials to get into the router configuration. Suffice to say, not having this information on hand is quite common, and can be easily resolved.
If you follow along, we’ll get you your router credentials back in your hands in no time.
How to access your router
Of course, to even get into your router, you to understand how to access it first. You’ll need to have a browser on your computer, such as Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome or even the default Microsoft Edge or Internet Explorer option.
Once you open your browser of choice, type in the IP for your router into your address bar and press “Enter” on your keyboard. This will take you to the page to login to the router. Most router’s will use a similar IP address. For example, most of Linksys’ routers use 192.168.1.1, as well as other brands.
If you can’t seem to find the IP address (sometimes it’s in the manual), if you’re connected to the router, you can easily find it by opening Command Prompt in Windows and typing in ipconfig/all. Once it shows you the results, simply look for the Default Gateway listing, and that’ll show you the IP address. You can then take that IP address and enter it in in your browser.
If you have any trouble connection, we recommend connecting up an Ethernet cable up to the PC or laptop you’re trying to log into your router with. This is a common practice, as it reduces the possibility of a connection drop during your router configurations. Not only that, but it ensures that your router is the router you’re accessing, as you could very easily access someone else’s router in the area if they have a similar model, IP address and credential setup.
Once that’s done, this should take you to a login page where we can begin trying different passwords, as we outline below.
Recovering login credentials
If you know that you didn’t change the information to get into the router, the username and password can (usually) be easily found.
Consult the manual
Often the manual that comes with the router will have the default username and password listed in it somewhere or even on the back of the manual. If you didn’t get a manual with your router, you can always look up the model number of the router in Google. Usually, you can get your hands on a free PDF version of the manual, and you can find the password and username in there.
Stickers or notes
Sometimes manufacturers will attach stickers to the back of the router, with information like the serial number, model number, etc. Sometimes you’ll find a sticker on the back of the router containing the login credentials as well, although this is becoming less common in efforts to harden security.
Try a default password
You can always try a default username and password, too. Most commonly, the username will be admin and the password will be admin as well. Another common credential configuration is admin as the username and password as the password. In rarer cases, the password will be blank, so after typing in admin as the username, you can just press the “Enter” button on your keyboard to login without filling in the password field.
Consult your ISP
If you picked up a router from your ISP, getting a username and password can be as simple as picking up the phone and calling them. If the credentials aren’t a default option like we mentioned above, companies like Charter Communications will have a preset password, sometimes involving the company’s name in someway. I once forgot the password to my home router, and it was as simple as giving my ISP a call. He ran me through three ISP-specific passwords, and finally, one of them worked.
Look it up online
Lastly, finding your router’s password can be as simple as accessing www.routerpasswords.com. You pick the brand of your router, and the site will give you a list of model numbers associated with that brand. Once you match up your router to one of the listed model numbers, it’s as simple as using the login information provided.
Reset your router
If none of the above options worked, you’ll have to return your router to factory settings to get into it. Generally, it’s the same process from router-to-router. They all will have a reset button you can press. This can be a button on the outside of the router, or a pinhole (pinholes are often used so that routers aren’t reset on accident, with some mistaking it for a power button) where the button can be pressed with a paperclip.
Keep in mind that resetting your router resets everything to factory settings. If you have any ports forwarded, special network settings or any other custom configurations, this is all erased and returned to factory defaults. Once the reset is complete, you’ll have to reconfigure everything again.
To reset the router, it’s as simple as holding that reset button down for 10-seconds with the power on. Once you do this, the router will reset itself and you can login with the default username and password, as we discussed above.
Change your password
Once you’re finally able to get into your router, we definitely recommend changing the default password. If you live in a congested area, and your Wi-Fi signal is strong enough, other people could easily log into your router’s configuration and swap your settings around. After all, since passwords like admin and password are quite common, it wouldn’t be too difficult to get into someone’s router with unchanged settings. That said, it’s imperative that you change it.
Changing the password is different from router-to-router; however, it’s a similar process. For example, in Netgear routers, inside the router’s dashboard, you would got Advanced > Administration > Set Password to change the default password. Some routers even support Password Recovery, so that you can recover a lost password without having to reset all of your configurations. If this is an option, we recommend turning it on.
To avoid having the problem in the future, be sure to store your username or password somewhere safe, such as in a encrypted password database. Be sure to read our article on how you can keep your passwords safe in a database with LastPass.
One of the more common reasons to get into a router is for forwarding ports to make connecting to a game or server possible or more efficient. If you don’t want to go through the hassle of resetting your router just to forward ports, it’s possible that you can do this without logging into the router.
Most routers these days support something called Universal Plug and Play (UPnP), which allows programs and games, such as Destiny 2, to automatically open the ports they need. But again, this can only happen if UPnP has already been enabled inside the router’s configuration settings. Not only that, but the program or game you’re using needs to support UPnP as well.
If you don’t have a program that supports UPnP, you can still forward ports without going into the router (again, only if UPnP is enabled in the router). You’ll need to use a free program called UPnP PortMapper. You’ll also need to download Java, as this is a Java-based program. We should also warn you not to just enter random numbers into the PortMapper. Instead, be sure to follow online instructions for forwarding ports–the program you’re using will usually have instructions for this, sometimes in their own Knowledge Base. For example, the game Destiny 2 has detailed instructions on what ports you’d need to forward for their game.
It’s worth noting that it’s not always recommended to have UPnP enabled on your router. It’s a great feature for convenience purposes, but not necessarily great for security. Malware, trojans and other viruses can use UPnP just like legitimate programs can, and because of that, malware can be easily spread throughout your local network.
And that’s all there is to it! If you lose the password to your router, as we showed above, it’s very easy to get it back, if you don’t mind spending time re-configuring your settings.
If you need some additional assistance, be sure to leave a comment in the comments section below. We’d love to help you out! Or, you can post any problems in the PCMech Forums.