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Best Ways to Reset a Home Network Router

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A person may want to reset their network router for several reasons. Perhaps they
  • can't remember the administrator's password
  • can't remember the network's wireless security key
  • are troubleshooting connectivity issues (either with clients or with the Internet connection)
Several different router reset methods can be used depending on the situation.

Hard Resets

The most drastic type of router reset, called hard reset, erases passwords, keys, and most other configuration parameters, restoring the router to use initial configuration values that it had when it left the factory. (Hard resets do not remove or revert the currently-installed version of router firmware, however.) This method is most commonly used when an administrator has forgotten their password or security keys and wishes to start over with new values.

To perform a hard router reset, keep the router powered on. Then, find the unit's reset button, often located on the rear of the device. Use a pen tip or bent paperclip if necessary to depress the button and hold it down. Network administrators are taught to hold the button down for 30 seconds; your router probably does not require waiting that full length of time, but this is a good general rule to follow. After releasing the hard reset button, a router may need up to 1 minute to reboot and resume normal operation.

An alternative method for hard resets involves holding the reset button down for 90 seconds instead of 30, unplugging the router from power and then re-plugging it partway through as described in these instructions for the 30-30-30 hard reset rule. This more involved reset process may not work on some routers and should only be tried if the basic 30 second version does not work.

To avoid Internet connectivity complications, disconnect the broadband modem from the router before performing hard resets.

Power Cycling

Power to a router can be shut off either by the unit's on/off switch (if it has one) or by unplugging the router's electric cord. (Battery-powered routers must be kept on AC power settings or have their batteries removed.) Shutting off and re-applying power to a router, a process called power cycling, can be used to recover from glitches that cause a router to drop connections, such as corruption of the unit's internal memory, or overheating. Power cycles do not erase saved passwords, security keys, or other settings saved via the router's console.

Some people like to wait 30 seconds out of habit, but it's not necessary to wait more than a few seconds between unplugging and re-plugging a router's power cord. As with hard resets, the router takes time after power is restored to resume operation.

Soft Resets

When troubleshooting Internet connectivity issues, it can help to reset the connection between the router and broadband modem. Physically unplug the cable connecting the router to the modem and re-connect after a few seconds. Some routers also include a "Disconnect / Connect" button on their console; this resets the connection between the modem and the service provider.

Some Linksys routers include a menu option called Restore Factory Defaults on their console. This feature replaces the router's customized settings (including passwords and keys) with the original ones it had at the factory, without requiring a hard reset.

Some Linksys routers also feature a Reset Security button on their Wi-Fi console screens. Pressing this button replaces the subset of the router's configuration settings related to wireless networking with default, while leaving other settings unchanged. Specifically, the router name (SSID), wireless encryption, and Wi-Fi channel number settings are all reverted. To avoid confusion around which settings get changed on a security reset, Linksys owners can avoid this option and use "Restore Factory Defaults" instead.

Compared to other kinds of resets, soft resets take effect almost instantaneously as they do not require the router to reboot.

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