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How to Access Your Router If You Forget the Password

router-header

Routers protect their web interfaces, where you can configure their networking, parental control, and port forwarding settings, with a username and password. These default passwords can be changed to protect the router’s settings.

If you’ve forgotten a router’s password – or if you acquired a used router and don’t know its password – there’s a way to reset the password. You may also be able to forward ports without knowing the password.

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Find the Default Username and Password

Before resetting your router to its default settings, you should first try using the default username and password to log in. You’ll need these anyway if you plan on resetting the router to its factory default settings. There are several ways to find this information:

  • Read your router’s manual. Different models of routers – even ones from the same manufacturer – often have different username and password combinations. To locate the default username and password for the router, look in its manual. (If you’ve lost the manual, you can often find it by searching for your router’s model number and “manual” on Google. Or just search for your router’s model and “default password”.)
  • Look for a sticker on the router itself. Some routers – particularly ones that may have come from your Internet service provider – ship with unique passwords. These passwords may sometimes be printed on a sticker on the router itself.
  • Try a common username and password combination. Many routers use the password “admin”  (don’t type the quotes) and a blank username, a blank password and “admin” as the username, or “admin” as both the password and username. You can find a fairly comprehensive list of default usernames and passwords for various routers on RouterPasswords.com.

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Try to log in with the default credentials after finding them – it’s possible the router was already reset or someone never changed its password. If they don’t work, continue to the next section – you’ll need the default credentials after resetting the router.

Reset the Router to Factory Defaults

Routers come with a button you can press to reset the router to its default factory settings. This resets any configuration changes you’ve made to the router – forwarded ports, network settings, parental controls, and custom passwords will all be wiped away. You’ll be able to access the router with its default username and password, but you may have to spend some time configuring the router again, depending on how many changes you made to its configuration.

The exact process (and location of the reset button) will vary from router to router. For best results, you should consult your router’s manual for any model-specific instructions. However, the process is generally very similar on most routers.

First, look at the back (or perhaps the bottom) of the router. You’ll see a special button labeled Reset. This button is often located in a depressed hole, known as a “pinhole,” so you can’t accidentally press it.

reset-pinhole-on-be-box

To reset the router, you’ll generally need to press this button and hold it down for about 10 seconds. After you release the button, the router will reset itself to the factory default settings and reboot. If the button is located in a pinhole, you’ll need to use a bent paperclip or another long, narrow object to press and hold it.

Once you’ve pressed the button down for long enough, you can log into the router with its default username and password.

reset-pinhole-on-router

Image Credits: William Hook on Flickr and DeclanTM on Flickr

How to Forward Ports Without Knowing the Password

Do you just want to open the router’s web interface and forward ports for a server, game, or other type of networked program? If so, you don’t necessarily even have to know the password. This trick is also useful if you’re using someone else’s network and don’t have access to the password.

This works because many routers support Universal Plug and Play (UPnP), 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.

If a program supports this option, you’ll generally find it in its connection settings alongside the port configuration. NAT-PMP, which you may also see, is a similar way of automatically forwarding ports that fewer routers support.

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If you use a program that doesn’t include integrated support for UPnP, never fear – you can use a program like UPnP PortMapper to quickly forward ports from a desktop application. You can forward any ports you like.

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Once you’ve reset the router’s settings, you can log in with the default username and password and change its password from its web interface.

Image Credit: tnarik on Flickr

Chris Hoffman is a technology writer and all-around computer geek. He's as at home using the Linux terminal as he is digging into the Windows registry. Connect with him on Google+.

  • Published 12/19/12

Comments (19)

  1. Dokuchaev Konstantin

    Obvious advices… I though I can read how to get in my router without factory reset and etc.

  2. AUDIOMIND

    RTFM

  3. Bob

    I thought that a straightened paper clip not a bent one would work much better. Even an unbent one but bent ones usually don’t fit the hole.

  4. Angelo

    how to reset a password for linksys converted with a dd-wrt firmware?
    The manual says with the device turned on, press the reset button for about 30 seconds

  5. Neville

    Thanks very much for the information about the router I think it is very handy for me and maybe others.

    Neville.

  6. chuckiewithanf

    @Angelo – the default username/password for dd-wrt is root/admin. If should revert to this after a hard reset or “30 reset”, which it sounds like you have done. Details here:

    http://www.dd-wrt.com/wiki/index.php/Reset_And_Reboot

  7. thetruthmatters

    Were only all things to be so simple so as the feeble cerebrum could muster a conclusive solution of said conundrum

  8. Richard Steven Hack

    The common problem I run into is that the client has changed the password (maybe several times), has forgotten it, never wrote it down, and since the router is inoperative I can’t look up the default on the Net in order to reset it to factory default.

    When that happens, you need this: RouterPassView.
    http://www.nirsoft.net/utils/router_password_recovery.html

    Only works with some routers, though, and of course the client always has something different…

  9. NM

    admin & admin ?

  10. Cirric

    @Angelo. The proper way to do a hard reset is called 30-30-30. http://www.dd-wrt.com/wiki/index.php/Hard_reset_or_30/30/30 .It has worked for me.

  11. Bill M.

    I agree with Read The Freakin Manual! While you are at it, write down the username and password on the manual or insert a post-it note in the manual with the info!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  12. GK

    If you’ve backed up your router config file, you might be able to recover the user/pass info using RouterPassView from nirsoft. http://www.nirsoft.net/utils/router_password_recovery.html It beats resetting and reloading all the configuration from scratch.

  13. Riddle

    Or you can open the cover and use the JTAG interface to flash the whole thing . But if you don’t know that already then you will probably brick the poor thing .So ,please ignore my comment : )

  14. Don

    Make sure to backup your config file now and then; that way, when you do have to reset your router back to its factory defaults, you can restore your config file!

  15. Chemical

    UPnP is a security risk and I recommend disabling it.

  16. kartik
  17. kcrum47

    JUST BUY A NEW ONE THEY ARE CHEAP AND THEY KEEP CHANGING TECHNOLOGY ALL THE TIME .

  18. Vamshi

    Hi,

    Does anybody know how to enable telnet to netgear wnr612/4?

    thanks in adv.

  19. Max

    @(for most of all) the default username and password is admin and admin respectively

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