Monthly Archives: March 2017

How To Reset a Home Network Router

You may want to reset your network router if you can’t remember the administrator’s password, you’ve forgotten the network’s wireless security key, or you’re troubleshooting connectivity issues.

Several different router reset methods can be used depending on the situation.

Hard Resets

A hard reset is the most drastic type of router reset that’s most commonly used when an administrator has forgotten their password or keys and wishes to start over with fresh settings.

Since the software on the router is reset to factory defaults, a hard reset removes all customizations, including passwords, usernames, security keys, port forwarding settings, and custom DNS servers.

Hard resets do not remove or revert the currently-installed version of router firmware, however.

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

How to do it:

  1. With the router powered on, turn it to the side that has the Reset button. It might be on the back or the bottom.
  2. With something small and pointy, like a paperclip, hold down the Reset button for 30 seconds.
  3. After releasing it, wait another 30 seconds for the router to fully reset and power back on.

An alternative method called the 30-30-30 hard reset rule involves holding down the reset button for 90 seconds instead of 30 and can be tried if the basic 30 second version doesn’t work.

Some router manufacturers might have a preferred way to reset their router, and some methods to resetting a router may differ between models.

Power Cycling

Shutting off and re-applying power to a router is called power cycling. It’s 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.

How to do it:

Power to a router can be shut off either by the unit’s on/off switch (if it has one) or by unplugging the power cord. Battery-powered routers must have their batteries removed.

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 reattaching 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 modem. Depending on how you want to do it, this may just involve removing the physical connection between the two, not manipulating the software or disabling power.

Compared to other kinds of resets, soft resets take effect almost instantaneously because they don’t require the router to reboot.

How to do it:

Physically unplug the cable connecting the router to the modem and then reconnect it after a few seconds.

Some routers include a Disconnect/Connect button on their console; this resets the connection between the modem and the service provider.

Some router brands including Linksys provide a menu option in their console called Restore Factory Defaults or something similar. This feature replaces the router’s customized settings (passwords, keys, etc.) with the original ones it had at the factory, without requiring a hard reset.

Some routers also feature a Reset Security button on their Wi-Fi console screens. Pressing this button replaces the subset of the router’s wireless network settings with the defaults 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.

Wi-Fi Wireless Networking

Wi-Fi has emerged as the single most popular wireless network protocol of the 21st century. While other wireless protocols work better in certain situations, Wi-Fi technology powers most home networks, many business local area networks and public hotspot networks.

Some people erroneously label all kinds of wireless networking as “Wi-Fi” when in reality Wi-Fi is just one of many wireless technologies.

History and Types of Wi-Fi

In the 1980s, a technology designed for wireless cash registers called WaveLAN was developed and shared with the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) group responsible for networking standards, known as committee 802. This technology was further developed during the 1990s until the committee published standard 802.11 in 1997.

The initial form of Wi-Fi from that 1997 standard supported only 2 Mbps connections. This technology was not officially known as “Wi-Fi” from the beginning either; that term was coined only a few years as its popularity increased. An industry standards group has continued to evolve the standard ever since, generating a family of new versions of Wi-Fi called successively 802.11b, 802.11g, 802.11n, 802.11ac, and so on. Each of these related standards can communicate with each other, although newer versions offer better performance and more features.

More – 802.11 Standards for Wi-Fi Wireless Networking

Modes of Wi-Fi Network Operation

Wi-Fi can be configured in one of two modes, called infrastructure mode Wi-Fi and ad-hoc mode Wi-Fi. Nearly all Wi-Fi setups use infrastructure mode, where client devices within range all connect to and communicate through a central wireless access point.

Ad hoc Wi-Fi allows clients to connect directly to each other without the use of an access point.

Wi-Fi Hardware

Wireless broadband routers commonly used in home networks serve (along with their other functions) as Wi-Fi access points. Similarly, public Wi-Fi hotspots utilize one or more access points installed inside the coverage area.

Small Wi-Fi radios and antennas are embedded inside smartphones, laptops, printers, and many consumer gadgets enabling them to function as network clients. Access points are configured with network names that clients can discover when scanning the area for available networks.

More – The World of Wi-Fi Gadgets for Home Networks

Wi-Fi Hotspots

Hotspots are a kind of infrastructure mode network designed for public or metered access to the Internet. Many hotspot access points utilize special software packages for managing user subscriptions and limiting Internet access accordingly.

More – Introduction to Wireless Hotspots

Wi-Fi Network Protocols

Wi-Fi consists of a data link layer protocol that runs over any of several different physical later (PHY) links. The data layer supports a special Media Access Control (MAC) protocol that uses collision avoidance techniques (technically called Carrier Sense Multiple Access with Collision Avoidance or CSMA/CA to help handle many clients on the network communicating at once

Wi-Fi supports the concept of channels similar to those of televisions. Each Wi-Fi channel utilizes a specific frequency range within the larger signal bands (2.4 GHz or 5 GHz). This allows local networks in close physical proximity to communicate without interfering with each other. Wi-Fi protocols additionally test the quality of the signal between two devices and adjust the connection’s data rate down if needed to increase reliability. The necessary protocol logic is embedded in specialized device firmware pre-installed by the manufacturer.

Common Issues With Wi-Fi Networks

No technology is perfect, and Wi-Fi possesses its share of limitations.

Common issues people face with Wi-Fi networks include:

  • Security – Network traffic sent across Wi-Fi networks passes through open air making it prone to snooping from malicious strangers. Several kinds of security technology have been added to Wi-Fi over the years to help address this problem, although some work better than others. More – Introduction to Wi-Fi Network Security
  • Health concerns – Some people claim that extensive exposure to wireless radio signals like those from Wi-Fi networks cause headaches, nausea and other physical issues. Many industry experts assure the public that Wi-Fi is safe, but controversy persists as claims one way or the other are difficult to prove. More – Wireless Networking and Your Health
  • Signal range – A basic Wi-Fi network with one wireless access point reaches at most only a few hundred feet (100m or less) in any direction. Expanding the range of a Wi-Fi network requires installing additional access points configured to communicate with each other, which becomes expensive and difficult to support, especially outdoors. As with other wireless protocols, signal interference (from other wireless devices, or from physical obstructions such as walls) can lower the effective range of Wi-Fi and its overall reliability. More – What Is the Typical Range of a Wi-Fi Network?

Tips To Mastering the Use of Wi-Fi Network Security Keys

One essential aspect of setting up Wi-Fi wireless connection setups is to enable security with the correct settings. If these settings are misconfigured, Wi-Fi devices can fail to connect to the local network (else security may not actually be turned on).

Although there are a few steps involved in configuring security on a Wi-Fi network, the management of wireless keys turns out to be the most important.

These keys are digital passwords (sequences of letters and/or digits, technically called a “string”) that all devices on a network need to know in order to connect with each other. In particular, all devices on a local Wi-Fi network share a common key.

Rules for Making Wi-Fi Keys

Setting up security on a Wi-Fi network router, wireless hotspot or client device involves choosing from among a list of security options and then entering a key string that the device stores away. Wi-Fi keys exist in two basic forms:

  • ASCII – a sequence of letters and/or decimal numbers
  • hex – a sequence of hexadecimal numbers

Hex keys (strings like ‘0FA76401DB’, without the quotes) are the standard format that Wi-Fi devices understand. ASCII keys are also called passphrases because people often choose easy-to-remember words and phrases for their keys, like ‘ilovewifi’ or ‘hispeed1234’. Note that some Wi-Fi devices support only hex keys and will either disallow entering passphrase characters or report an error when trying to save a passphrase.

Wi-Fi devices convert both ASCII and hex keys into binary numbers that become the actual key value used by the Wi-Fi hardware to encrypt data sent over the wireless link.

The most common security options used for home networking include 64-bit or 128-bit WEP (not recommended due to its inferior level of protection), WPA and WPA2).

Some restrictions on the choice of Wi-Fi key depend on the option chosen as follows:

  • 64-bit WEP – passphrases must be exactly 5 ASCII characters; keys must be exactly 10 hexadecimal digits
  • 128-bit WEP – passphrases must be exactly 13 ASCII characters; keys must be exactly 26 hexadecimal digits
  • WPA and WPA2 – passphrases must be between 8 and 63 ASCII characters; keys must be 64 hex digits

Follow these additional rules that apply to all of the above options when making Wi-Fi keys:

  • 1. Choose keys larger than the minimum length if possible. Longer keys are more difficult to be compromised, although they are also much more difficult for people to remember.
    2. Because all of the above Wi-Fi options use case-sensitive keys, ensure that shared keys match exactly including the use of lower- and upper-case letters.

Synchronizing Keys Across Local Devices

The simplest method to ensure all devices on a home or local network are correctly configured with the same Wi-Fi key is to first set a key for the router (or another access point) and then systematically update each client one by one to use the matching string. Exact steps for applying a Wi-Fi key to a router or other device vary slightly depending on the specific hardware involved, but as a general rule:

  • enter keys into the router’s administration page for wireless settings
  • enter keys into a client device through its Settings app or operating system control panel

 

Finding Keys for Routers and Hotspots

Because the sequence of numbers and letters in a Wi-Fi can be long, it’s fairly common to mistype the value or simply forget what it is. To find the key string currently in use for a wireless home network, log into the local router as an administrator and look up the value from the appropriate console page. As a device cannot authenticate with the router unless it already has the correct key, connect a device to the router via Ethernet cable if necessary.

Some home routers come from the manufacturer with a Wi-Fi security option already turned on and a default key pre-installed on the device. These routers typically have a sticker on the bottom of the unit showing the key string. While these keys are private and generally safe to use within a home, the stickers enable anyone inside a home to see its network settings and join additional client devices to the network without an owner’s knowledge. To avoid this risk, some prefer to override the key on such routers with a different string immediately when first installing them.