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Changing your router's password is important, but the steps aren't always obvious. I'll walk through changing my router's password.

How does one change the router password? Where are the controls and settings for the router?

I recently wrote about several steps you should take to secure your router. One of those steps is to change the default password.

Several people wrote in to ask how to do that, as it's not at all clear how you access your router settings at all, much less the password screen.

I'll show you, step by step, how I access the settings on my LinkSys router.

Now, I have to start by saying that unless you have a LinkSys, perhaps even the exact same model, your steps may be somewhat different. You really should be checking the documentation that comes with your router to get the specifics necessary to change settings on your device.

"The default password is about as secure as having no password at all."

That being said, the concepts are generally the same for most consumer routers, and hopefully this will help you interpret those instructions a little more easily.

We start with your browser.

Routers don't have applications or settings that you'll find on your computer anywhere. They're a separate device on your network, and as such need to be accessed across the network. Most router manufacturers have made this fairly easy by including a mini web-server inside the box that you use to access the settings.

You access your router's settings by entering its IP address in the address bar of your browser:

192.168.1.1 - my router's IP address in the address bar

192.168.1.1 is a pretty common IP address for routers on small networks, but if that's not it, another "trick" that occasionally works is to open up a command prompt, enter "ipconfig" (followed by Enter), and look for a "default gateway":

Ethernet adapter Local Area Connection 2:

Connection-specific DNS Suffix . :
IP Address. . . . . . . . . . . . : 192.168.1.5
Subnet Mask . . . . . . . . . . . : 255.255.255.0
Default Gateway . . . . . . . . . : 192.168.1.1

In most cases, that's the IP address of your router.

Once you've entered your router's IP address into your browser's address bar and pressed "Enter", you should get an authorization request:

LinkSys router requesting authorization

Most all manufacturers have default settings for this. For example, if you have a LinkSys, the default is to leave the User name blank, and enter "admin" as the password. It's this very default setting that we're going to change, because as you can see - everyone knows it.

Once you enter the correct user name and password, press OK and you should land on your routers "home page" for configuration.

LinkSys BEFSR81 Home Page

As you can see there's a "Password" tab at the top of this UI. Clicking it takes you to the Password management page.

Linksys Router Password Page

In typical password-setting practice, you enter your new password twice, and press Apply.

Your router has a new password.

A couple of additional notes on your new password:

  • Do Not Forget It - keep it somewhere safe. If you forget your password you'll be unable to access your routers settings. On most routers that means you'll need to perform a "reset to factory defaults", which will reset the password to its default, as well as erase any and all other settings you may have changed.

  • Choose An Appropriate Password - access to your router can be used for many things besides just playing with a few settings. Malware has been known to perform complex spoofing attacks simply by altering how and where the router gets its DNS information, for example. You'll want a strong password to protect it. Since this is a password you enter infrequently, it's worth it to make sure it's secure even if it is difficult to enter. I recommend using, say, the first 10 or 12 characters of a random password created by a good password generator.

As I said at the beginning, unless you have the same exact router that I do, it's likely that the details of what I've shown will be different for you. Check your router's documentation for the exact steps to perform this change.

But do change your router's password. The default password is about as secure as having no password at all.

Article C3674 - March 13, 2009 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?

8 Comments
James
March 18, 2009 7:24 AM

Actually, I thought this option was for the more expensive routers. Found out my little Netgear RP614 had that option. I did have to go to the Netgear website to find out the password, but that was just a minor inconvenience. Thanks Leo !!

Frank Stiller
March 19, 2009 7:26 PM

What are UPnP services and which selection should I choose?

Tom Rivera
July 20, 2009 9:15 AM

What is the maximum number of characters allowed for router passwords? (my router is a linksys wrt54gs)

Adrian
June 9, 2010 6:53 AM

I have a comtrend ct-5071t router. I can access the page but i was not given any documentation after the phone company set up the router. I cant find any documentation online either. Do you know of a way to physically reset the password or the standard password for the comtrend line?

patricia
April 2, 2011 6:19 PM

stick a pin in the reset hole on the router for 5 seconds. A message will come up asking for a password change and give you the option of securing it with a key. Much easier.

Doing so will also reset all other options on the router as well.
Leo
06-Apr-2011

Alin
August 30, 2011 4:30 AM

i still dont know how to change it..My problem is that the people who lives around me are hacking my router and i have to change my user and password but i dont know how can you help me please.Thank you.

melly
November 11, 2011 8:01 PM

this still dosent work i have a linksys router and did what the instruction says n it still dosent work leaving the user name blank and password admin still doesnt let me get through wat the heck!!

Benny Go
January 27, 2012 4:04 PM

I tried to change my Password and after typing the current one the following message appeared: 401 Unauthorized
Authorization required.
What do I have to do and how to continue?

Sounds like you typed in the wrong password. You have two options: type in the correct password, or reset the router to factory defaults.
Leo
28-Jan-2012

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