Most of us just set up the Wi-Fi router provided with our broadband deal and then leave it alone, but changing your router’s settings can unlock lots of benefits. Although it looks intimidating at first, opening up your router settings and making some changes can really improve your enjoyment of the internet at home.
Here’s our handy guide to changing your router settings:
The key to accessing and changing your router’s settings is to find its IP address. It’ll be a string of numbers, separated by full stops, that looks something like this:
If you enter your IP address into any internet browser (Chrome, Safari, Internet Explorer, Firefox etc.) it should take you to the login page to get to the router’s settings (don’t forget to add https:// in front of the IP address; e.g. https://192.168.0.1).
If you’re having trouble finding your router’s IP address, here are a few things you can try.
This is probably the easiest solution. If you can get to your router easily, have a look on the back of the device. More often than not, your broadband provider will tell you what the IP address of the router is, as well as the initial password to access your Wi-Fi settings.
If you still have the manual that came with your router, you should be able to find its IP address by reading through it. If you’ve misplaced the manual, try googling the make and model number of your router – a PDF of the manual could be online, or you could find out the IP address directly.
If you are using a Mac, finding your router’s IP address is also pretty simple. All you need to do is head to System Preferences > Network > Wi-Fi. Then click on Advanced > TCP/IP and you’ll see your router’s IP address next to Router.
If you’re on Windows, you will need to open the Control Panel to find your router’s IP address. Then click View Network Status and tasks under Network and Internet. Next, click the blue link by Connections: Wi-Fi. Then you need to click on Details… where you will see your router’s IP address next to IPv4 Default Gateway.
If you’re using an iPhone or an iPad, you can find your router’s IP address by tapping Settings > Wi-Fi. Then you need to tap the blue ‘i’ next to the name of your Wi-Fi network. Under the IPv4 address table will be Router, and your router’s IP address will be next to that.
On your Android phone, tap Settings > Network & internet > Wi-Fi and then tap the network that you are connected to. Under the Advanced dropdown menu, tap Static and then you should see the router’s IP address by tapping Gateway.
Once you enter your router’s IP address into your chosen internet browser you will be directed to log in before you can see or change any of your router’s settings.
If it is your first time logging into your router, the login details will most likely be printed on the back of your router or will be in the provided manual. Almost all routers will make you change the password after you initially log in to your router to keep access secure and unique to you.
If you are struggling to access your router’s settings, your best bet is to get in contact with your broadband supplier if the router was supplied as part of a broadband deal, or to talk to the manufacturer if you bought the router separately from your broadband deal.
Nowadays, sharing your Wi-Fi password with guests has become commonplace. But the passwords that are set up by default on routers can be impossible to remember and a pain to enter correctly every time.
Plus, if you lose the password it can be really hard to remember it. And if you are using the default password, it can be easier for unwanted users to join your Wi-Fi network. By entering your own password, you increase your chances of remembering it and, as long as the password is strong, your Wi-Fi will still be secure.
To change your password, you will need to log in to your router settings. All routers will do this slightly differently, but you need to look for Wi-Fi settings. Find your Wi-Fi network name (SSID) and the password field will usually be underneath. You will need to enter your old Wi-Fi password first and then enter your new password. Make sure that you are following strong password best practice (including some capitals, numbers and symbols).
Naming a Wi-Fi network can make it really easy to know which Wi-Fi network is yours without too much thought. It’s especially useful for people who live in apartments, who could be bombarded with lots of different Wi-Fi networks with similar-looking names.
To change your Wi-Fi network name, you’ll need to find the SSID or Wi-Fi network name field in your router settings. All you will need to do then is update the name of your network and then apply the settings. Remember that changing the name of your Wi-Fi network will mean that you have to reconnect all of your Wi-Fi devices that were connected to the network under the old network name.
Some of the more advanced routers on the market offer parental controls that can keep your children safe when they’re online. The major benefit of setting up parental controls with your router is that it means every device that is connected to your Wi-Fi will automatically operate under the parental controls.
Depending on your specific router, there are a number of different ways you can protect your children:
Most routers will let you set times in which the Wi-Fi will operate. That means that you can schedule (and force) internet downtimes, where your children can’t get on the internet.
Some routers will allow you to add certain websites to a blacklist so that they can’t be accessed from any device that is on your Wi-Fi network. This is great if there’s a particular website that you would like to restrict your children from accessing that isn’t covered by more conventional parental controls.
Some more advanced routers let you pause the Wi-Fi – disconnecting all devices from the internet until you resume it. This is great for those moments when you want to stop the internet but don’t want to schedule in specific ‘down times’.
Aside from changing the default Wi-Fi password that comes with your router, there are other security settings that you can change on your router to help improve your security.
Wi-Fi Protected Access version 2 (WPA2) is the latest encryption method for keeping your Wi-Fi network secure. To make sure that WPA2 is enabled, head to your router’s settings and look for Security settings – then make sure WPA2 is enabled. A word of warning: if some of your devices are older than 2005, they may not support WPA2.
You can set up a Virtual Private Network (VPN) on your router to protect your internet usage from unwanted eyes. The great benefit of setting up a VPN with your router is that it will be applied to all devices connected to the internet through your Wi-Fi. The easiest way to set this up is to look at the recommended settings from your VPN supplier.
A guest Wi-Fi account can be really helpful if you have lots of visitors. To set up a guest Wi-Fi network, head to your router’s settings and look for the Wi-Fi settings. Most routers will give you the option of setting up a second Wi-Fi network. Name the network what you want and add a password – that’s all you need to do!
If you’re suffering from slow internet or poor Wi-Fi strength, there are a few things that you can try tweaking in your router settings that might help.
Most modern routers operate across two Wi-Fi frequencies, 2.4GHz and 5GHz – but what do these mean? The two different frequencies give you different options when it comes to your Wi-Fi:
A 5GHz Wi-Fi network will have faster connection speeds than a 2.4GHz network but less range.
A 2.4GHz network has a larger range but slower speed than a 5GHz network.
So if you’re struggling for speed, use the 5GHz Wi-Fi network. And if you’re struggling to get good Wi-Fi coverage across the house, opt for 2.4GHz.
If you want to get slightly more advanced, you can look into changing your router’s channel settings for the Wi-Fi. When your router is first set up, it will automatically pick a channel from the Wi-Fi frequency that your data is sent over. For most people this is just fine. But if you’re experiencing unexplained slow speeds, the channel that your router picked automatically could be being used by someone nearby, causing it to be congested and slow.
To change the channel that your router uses, you can usually find these settings under the more advanced settings. There are a number of Wi-Fi analyser apps that can help show you which channels in your area are free from congestion.
A Domain Name System (DNS) finds a website’s IP address when you enter the url of a website like www.broadbanddeals.com. Your DNS settings are usually provided by your internet service provider (ISP). But if you are noticing that your ISP is having problems providing a stable and fast DNS, you can take matters into your own hands and change the DNS settings in your router settings.
There are a number of popular free DNS services that could speed up your internet browsing experience. To find the settings you need, look at your new DNS provider’s website. They will have detailed instructions for changing most routers’ DNS settings.