How to reset router and its password

Anton P. | September 16, 2021

Learning how to reset a router takes very little time and makes it easy to fix particular connectivity issues. Essentially, resetting means that you erase all settings and data a router has accumulated. Think of it as an extreme makeover, during which you dump everything out to start anew. Thus, a router reset will take this gadget back to its initial form (factory settings). However, knowing how to reset the router is not enough. Sometimes, users might turn to factory reset without assessing its necessity. Hence, you should know when router reset will be a victory in terms of revamping the internet connection.

How does router factory reset work?

Resetting a router means wiping all of its memory clean. The process can have many names: factory reset, master reset, hard reset, and restore. In general, you force your router to go back to the initial factory settings.

If you have made any modifications, like the encryption form or channel, master reset will eliminate them. Thus, all the router personalization will no longer apply after the reset. Here are some of the things that your router will forget after resetting:

  • Customized settings, like the security level, parental controls, channel, etc.
  • Wi-Fi password, network name (SSID), and other modified Wi-Fi settings.
  • Router username and password will return to the values displayed on the router label.

This spring cleaner can be beneficial, like when you forget your Wi-Fi password. However, a router factory reset usually stands as the last resort. After all, it erases everything, including the valuable customizations you have made.

Fed up with connectivity issues, many users might recourse to this option. However, not everything goes according to plan if you misdiagnose router issues.

When you might need to reset your router

Here are some of the most common situations when resetting your router is a valid solution:

  • You experience repetitive network issues like no internet connectivity or slow wireless signal. Router reset is one of the troubleshooting steps in a home or consumer environment. However, it should not be the very first thing you decide to do. A reboot should come first, and we will explain why.
  • Suppose you have forgotten the password to access the router’s web interface. After a reset, the router will have its default password.
  • You want to change all the router customizations made. Reset will get rid of all personalization traces, giving you a clean slate.
  • Resets are also in favor of network security. In 2018, experts urged users to reset their routers due to the VPNFilter malware. The latter threatens to allow perpetrators to spy on your internet traffic or even brick your router. A reset was the main salvation for getting rid of malware entirely.

When to reboot, and when to reset routers?

Router reboot might be something you already do whenever the internet connection disappears. It is the same as restarting your computer (or any other device). It is a soft reset, meaning you shut a machine down and then power it back on.

A reboot means that you clean the short-term memory (cache) of your device. When powering back on, a device can also select the least crowded channel for frequency. That is why you can resolve many minor problems by giving your router a break for several minutes.

Essentially, a reboot means that a router optimizes its performance and gets rid of non-essential data. On the other hand, a reset wipes out configuration information and returns the device to its factory state.

Both reboot and reset are essential for a healthy long-term router operation. However, a reboot is typically the first course of action recommended. A reset is a more drastic and permanent solution, done in more extreme cases.

As for reboots, experts recommend performing them regularly. Depending on the state of the router, you might need to complete them monthly or less frequently.

How hard reset can help against router malware?

Factory reset is a wipe-and-reinstall type of deal. For instance, if you forgot your router password, a reboot would do no good. However, a reset will reinstate the original software, regardless of the one running prior to the reset.

VPNFilter is a practical example for illustrating how a reset can get rid of router malware. The infection itself is the one that targets routers and storage devices. It could allow attackers to gather victims’ data, including browser histories, passwords, and other confidential information.

The FBI urged the majority of network administrators to deal with this by rebooting routers. This course of action disrupted the malware (preventing it from performing malicious activities). Additionally, it helped identify the scale of the infection.

To get rid of the malware, experts recommended performing the factory reset. It removes all data, both volatile and non-volatile. Thus, the reset also eliminates all traces of malware.

While reboot can put malware into hibernation mode, reset abolishes it. Similar scenarios could apply to other router infections. As a result, a router reset is a viable option if your device gets compromised.

How to reset routers?

If you decide to reset your router, the first thing you need to do is check the page of your router provider. They are likely to supply more information about performing resets on specific models. Thus, it is always best to look for instructions adapted to your router.

You can find the reset button on your router. It is on the back of your device, and you need a paperclip to access it. The process goes as follows:

  • Find the Reset button on your router.
  • Check that your router is active.
  • Use the pointed end of a paperclip to press the button and hold for 15 seconds.
  • Now, wait for the router to reset and turn back on fully.

You can also reset your device via the router’s web interface. Before that, you need to find your router IP address. After pasting it into your preferred browser, you can log into your admin panel (with your credentials). Then, you should find “factory reset” under sections like Settings, Restore, or System. The exact location depends on the manufacturer.

However, bear in mind that you should never perform a factory reset without a solid reason. For instance, you should know how to configure your router correctly again.The good news is that there is an option for saving your router settings before the reset as a file. After the wipe-and-reinstall process, you should be able to import that file once again.

Anton P.

Anton P.

Former chef and the head of Atlas VPN blog team. He's an experienced cybersecurity expert with a background of technical content writing.

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