Managing your broadband connection is usually an easy enough task. From broadband installation to getting your Wi-Fi up and running, most internet providers make it easy and intuitive to get online with your router. Sometimes, though, you might need to delve a little deeper by fixing issues or customising them to your needs. If you need to start tinkering with your router settings, here’s how to get started.
First things first, your router is the box that your supplier sends to you to connect to Wi-Fi when you sign up for a broadband deal, and it’s usually easily plugged in and working within minutes. Essentially, that’s all you really need to know about your router — once set up you can enjoy your connection without ever doing anything else to it.
Basic features of a router include:
Antennae – The ‘sticks’ at the top of your router (though not all routers have this), they’re in charge of directing and transmitting your Wi-Fi signal
Console port – Using a wire, it connects your router direct to a PC, printer or other device
Ethernet ports – Similar to a console port, you can connect games consoles etc. through these
USB port – For connecting devices that only have USB connections, such as printers
WPS button – WPS means Wi-Fi Protected Setup, it allows you to connect some devices without needing to input the Wi-Fi password
Reset button – Modern routers usually reboot themselves when needed, but you can use this button when you change settings that need to be finalised or just want to reset your connection
There are a few things you can adjust once you access your internet router settings, including:
Your IP address
Your username and password
Changing firewall settings
Allowing remote access
Setting parental controls
You should always double-check the small print that comes with your router if you are using a model supplied by your internet provider. There are some things you will be able to change easily, such as your password, but if you want to make major modifications, your provider may prohibit this.
If you want to access your router only to change parental controls, check to see if your supplier doesn’t already have options for this either through your online account or via app. Sky, BT and TalkTalk, for example, all offer parental settings that can be easily changed through your account and/or on a dedicated app.
If you are using a router provided by your internet supplier, you may be able to access router settings in the following ways:
Using an admin key (this should be printed under your Wi-Fi password and username)
Using an app
Using a specific web address
If none of the above methods is available to you, you can access your router settings via your internet browser:
Find the IP address of your router – printed on your router, usually in the form of 192.168.1.1
Log in using the admin credentials also found on your router
You should see a menu of options for you to change
Bear in mind that if you are using a provider-specific router, things will likely be more user friendly than if you are using a third-party model, you may be locked out of any in-depth changes though.
If you don’t feel confident changing your router settings, call your provider and ask for guidance. If you accidentally change the wrong settings, you may leave yourself open to router hacking and other risks.
All of them, essentially. Your router is the origin of your Wi-Fi connection so you can alter most things about it, depending on the level of access your provider has given you. Generally, you should be able to change the following:
Wi-Fi password – you can change this to whatever you like, but make sure it is a secure mix of numbers and letters
Wi-Fi name – if you want to make your Wi-Fi more easily recognisable, or less obvious to potential leeches, you can change its name
Wi-Fi guest network – this is an ideal way to accommodate guests or external devices while keeping a separate, secure network for core devices like a PC
Wi-Fi channel – a little more in-depth, Wi-Fi can operate on different channels to lessen interference from nearby connections, generally, your router should be able to detect the ideal channel automatically
Security – some security measures can be changed via router
Firmware updates – your router may do this automatically, but this makes sure it is running on the latest program updates
While the password to your Wi-Fi is important, you may also want to consider changing the password to your router, because if someone got hold of this they could kick you off your own connection. The steps to do this should be clearly outlined when you initially log in via browser and may be clearly posted on your user app too.
Always change your password to something that is impossible to guess — a mix of numbers and letters and also something you won’t easily forget. A password you don’t have to write down (and therefore inadvertently share with others) is best, and it should never be the same password as anything else important like your email. You can use a password checker or password manager to make sure your password is secure enough.
This is a part you probably shouldn’t mess with if you aren’t confident in your technical skills. Your firewall is the main defence your router has against hacking, malware and other cyber dangers, don’t start playing around with it if you aren’t sure what you are doing.
The most common changes people make to their firewall security include:
Turning it on – surprisingly, this isn’t always a given
Permitting certain programs that the firewall may have blocked
There are two types of firewall, one that operates at router-level and another that works on your laptop — you should run both.
Again, if you aren’t sure about this, get in touch with your provider – you may find that sufficient security programs are already installed or offered as an extra as part of your broadband deal.