You might not give much thought to that little neon-light blinking box in the corner other than that it provides you with internet access. But your router is a hidden box of tricks; you can use it to tighten security, speed up downloads, get faster streaming services, even if you don’t know your router’s password.
Being able to access your router is always a useful option. You can beef up its security by changing the access password so you don’t have Wi-Fi freeloaders surfing on your connection, you can set access controls and you can also ‘forward ports’.
That last phrase probably stopped you in your tracks but port forwarding is the redirecting of computer signals to follow specific electronic paths into your computer.
If the computer signal can find its way into your computer a few milliseconds quicker, it will add up to be dramatic speed increases for your game or your downloading.
It’s relatively easy to do and can make a significant difference. If it’s something you’re interested in exploring further you can check this link.
However, before you get there you need to be able to access the web interface for your router.
If you don’t have a router password, or if you’ve got a second hand router and don’t know its password, you can reset the password. To do this you need to nail down the original user name and password.
Finding the default user name and password
A routers manual will often provide you with the default user name and password. But who keeps a router manual? It’s probably safe to say that most router manuals became CO2 and H20 gases a long time ago. Here are four options for finding the user name and password.
- You can probably find the manual online. Just do a search for the router’s model number and ‘manual’, or search for your router’s model and ‘default password’.
- Look for a sticker on the bottom of router itself. Many routers, especially those have come from an internet service provider, have unique passwords. These passwords are often printed on a sticker on the router.
- Try a common username and password combination. Many routers use the password ‘admin’ and a blank username. They can also use a blank password and ‘admin’ as the username, or ‘admin’ as both the password and username.
- There’s a great website called routerpasswords.com that provides a sweepingly comprehensive list of default usernames and passwords for a wide range of routers
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that the SSID (the technical term for a network name) and network key are the user name and password, because often they are not. For instance, if you have a router from Sky, for broadband access, the SSID would be something like SKY45231 and the network key something like SINHWOPW. However the user name and password to access a sky router is usually ‘admin’ and ‘Sky’.
Resetting the router to factory defaults
Perhaps you’ve got a second hand router and want to return it to its factory settings; perhaps you’ve made changes to your router and you want to return to your original settings. If either of these is the case a simple reset can get you on your way again.
Routers have a reset button which resets any configuration changes you’ve made to the router whether its forwarded ports, network settings, and custom passwords. Once you’ve pressed the button all your changes will be wiped away.
The reset process may vary from router to router, but it’s simple enough.
- First, find the reset button on the router. You’ll find a special button labelled Reset, it may be clearly marked or it may be in a depressed hole, known as a ‘pinhole’ so it’s not accidently pressed.
- Press the button and hold it down for about 10 seconds. If it’s a pinhole button, you’ll need a paperclip or matchstick or something similar, to locate and hold the button.
- Once the button is released will reset to the factory default settings and reboot. You can also log into the router using its default username and password.
Port forwarding on your router without a password
Every router has an IP address that’s relative for your network. But it also has an external IP address, one that it uses when interacting with things outside of your network.
Simple computer requests, such as loading web sites, are automatically handled by the router and are sent to their appropriate places. Ports help make this process easier.
Lower numbered ports have specific applications which are standards throughout the computing industry. When you fetch a web page, for example, it uses port 80.
If you want to forward ports for some sort of networked service like streaming or multiplayer games you can do so and get significantly increased speed.
You can do this on a router even if you don’t have a password.
And you can do this because many routers support Universal Plug and Play which allows programs on your computer to ask the router to open ports for them. If UPnP is enabled on the router, it will automatically open the port.
UPnP is a convenient way for programs to forward ports without you having to pull up your router’s web interface and forward ports manually.
However, you could also use an application such as UPnP PortMapper.
This application takes care of port forwarding for you. If you visit a friend’s house and join their network, you don’t have to ask for their router’s password to forward ports.
Port forwarding made simple
If you’re interested in port forwarding but are put off because it all seems a bit technical, remember you can always undo any changes you have made by simply pressing the router reset button.
There’s also a very useful site https://portforward.com/ which provides a raft of information and useful links on port forwarding.
For instance, it provides port forward information for hugely popular games such as Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, Destiny, Assassins Creed Unity and Halo 5: Guardians.
It also provides step-by-step port forwarding instructions for a range of games consoles including Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS3 and PS4.
In fact, if you dive into this site and do some of your own port forwarding you’ll soon discover what a dramatic difference it can make and you’ll wonder why it took you so long to do it in the first place.