Broadband router settings
By Phil Wilkinson-Jones | Wednesday, July 28th 2021
Most of the time, your router will provide you with a perfectly good WiFi experience without you having to go anywhere near it. But from time to time, you may need to adjust some of your router's settings – to do a little more than to turn the router off and on again.
In this guide, we'll talk you through the different settings your router has and explain how to change them, should you need to. Of course if you have any problems with your router, the best thing to do is to contact your broadband provider, who will be happy to help with the specifics.
Why would I need to change my router settings?
There may well be things your router is capable of that are just waiting to be unlocked. There could be extra security features, for example, ready to be activated, giving you as much control over your personal data as possible. Doing things as simple as changing your password from the default one makes your network more secure.
Remember, you're very unlikely to mess things up. The worst thing you're likely to do is to make your network easier for someone outside of your household to access – and even then a factory reset will undo virtually any mistakes you've made. By following manufacturer instructions carefully, the more likely you'll have improved your home network.
How to access your router settings
The first thing to do is to make sure the device you're using (laptop, phone and so on) is connected to the same network as the router you're attempting to access. A very simple way of accessing your router settings is to enter one of the following IP addresses into your web browser: 192.168.0.1, 192.168.1.1, 192.168.2.1, 10.0.1.1, 10.0.0.1, 10.10.1.1. Try them one at a time and hopefully one will bring up a welcome or login screen asking you for a password.
If none of those IP addresses work, you can find your router's IP address by going into the network settings on your computer. You'll need to click on 'network properties', then look for 'default gateway'. The number next to this is your IP address. Type this number into the URL bar of your browser as you did with the IP addresses above. If you're a Mac user, you'll need to click on 'network properties', then look for 'default gateway', or 'System Preferences' if you're a Mac user, and then click on 'Network' and you will see the current IP address for your network connection
If you've got to the welcome or login screen, the next step is to sign in. There should be a sticker with a username and/or password on the back or the bottom of your router. If you're still short of a username, try 'admin'.
What router settings can I change?
Once you've logged in, you'll be shown a number of different options. Let's take a look at them one by one.
Changing your router login password
This is a pretty basic bit of online security, but it's obviously better to have a password you've chosen rather than the default one that's actually written on the router. Depending on the router you have, the first thing you'll have to do after logging in is to enter a new password. This may reset your router and you may find it's a few minutes before you can log in again with your new password.
If you want to change your password again, you'll find the option in the menu on your router settings screen.
Changing your router's IP address
When we say you can change your IP address, we're not talking about your public IP address. This is the one that computers and servers outside your network see when you connect with them. This IP address will have been given to you by your broadband provider and in most cases you won't have any control over it.
What we're talking about is your local IP address. This is an address given to your router and all of the devices that connect to it. This address you can change by going into your router settings. Something to bear in mind is if you do change your IP address, this will now be the number you'll need to type into the URL bar of your browser to access your router settings.
Changing your SSID/network name
SSID stands for Service Set Identifier and is a technical way of referring to the name of your network. You'll generally find either 'SSID' or 'wireless network' in the menu on your router settings page. You can call your network anything you like, but it's best to steer clear of anything rude or offensive, and it's probably best to choose something that doesn't make it sound like a public WiFi hotspot so you don't get random people trying to gain access to your network.
Configuring guest WiFi
Most new routers will include a guest WiFi feature. This allows you to create a guest network that is separate to your home network. The beauty of this is that you can give people WiFi access without giving them your WiFi password, perfect if you're running a small business or you often have family and friends over.
Changing your router's wireless channel
Routers broadcast wireless signals over a number of channels that sit within two frequencies. There are 11 channels on the 2.4GHz frequency and 45 channels on the 5GHz frequency. Your router will automatically switch between these channels to give you the best connection. Ofcom recently opened up a 6GHz frequency, for faster wireless speeds and lower latencies in the near future.
It is possible to manually choose which channel your router is using, but this isn't generally offered as an option on the router settings web page we've been talking about. Instead, you'll need to use a network analysis tool such as NetSpot.
Setting up parental controls
Some routers have parental controls built in. These allow you to monitor what your child is looking at online and to set parameters so that certain websites are off-limits. If your router doesn't have this feature, you may be able to access other parental controls via your provider, or install apps on individual devices.
Activating security features
Your router will have a number of security features, including firewalls and MAC address filtering, built-in. Logging into your router settings will show you what features your router has and whether they are active or not.
Activating remote management
Your router may give you the option of managing your settings remotely (that is, when you're not actually connected to your router either wirelessly or via an ethernet cable). If your router has this feature, you'll see it somewhere on your router settings homepage or in the menu. Activating remote management can be convenient but can also be a security risk, so the best advice is to switch it off if you will not be using it for a while.
Your router settings homepage will most likely provide you with a snapshot of how your router is performing. This includes whether you have a good connection to the internet, how many devices are connected to the network, either wirelessly or via an ethernet cable, and whether there are any known problems on your local network.
Frequently asked questions
How do I restore my router to factory settings?
You'll be pleased to know that restoring a router to the way it was doesn't involve much technical knowhow at all. Most routers simply have a button on the back that you need to press and hold for about 10 seconds. On some routers, the button will be very small and recessed, so you may need something like a pencil or a paperclip to press it. This will restore settings to their factory standard, including resetting any usernames or passwords you've changed.
How do I see who is connected to my router?
Log into your router settings by typing your IP address into the URL bar of your browser then enter your default username and/or password. A list of the devices connected to your router either wirelessly or via ethernet cable will be displayed either on the homepage of your router settings or somewhere in the menu.
How do I access router settings from my phone?
First, make sure your phone is connected to the same WiFi network that you are trying to access. Go into your phone's settings and find the information page about the WiFi network you're connected to. This should tell you your router's IP address. Copy and paste this into a browser app such as Chrome or Safari and it will bring up your router settings homepage. The default password to get you in will probably be on a sticker on the back or bottom of your router.