Every now and then your router will hiccup and need a bit of a jolt to get it working again. We all know the feeling of having to power-cycle our routers, but with a smart plug, you can make the process a piece of cake.
Why Routers Need Rebooting
It’s an annoying problem that most of us deal with, but it’s one of those things that we never really think about because it’s second nature, until now!
We’ve explained before why routers need rebooting from time to time, but here’s the gist:
Maybe a bug is causing a memory leak, maybe the CPU is overheating, or maybe a full blown kernel panic has taken down the entire system.
What’s the simplest fix for these sorts of computer problems? Turning it on and off again.
Your router is nothing more than a simple computer, so when it starts to take on issues, restarting it usually fixes the problem. And as for the whole “wait 30 seconds before booting it back up,” that’s because routers have capacitors, which are like tiny batteries that can continue to power critical components for a bit longer, usually anywhere from 10-30 seconds. So by waiting at least 30 seconds before booting the router back up, you’re ensuring that it’s completely powered down and all pre-existing memory is wiped.
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How to Reboot Your Router from the Couch
Now that we have that piece of knowledge out of the way, our goal now is to gain the ability to reboot our router at any time from anywhere, because the last thing we want to do is get up from the couch and wrangle with the router.
This is where the trusty smart plug can be of great use. You would normally use these to control lamps, fans, and other small appliances, but for this we’re going to use one to turn our router into a “smart” router of sorts, in that you’ll be able to turn it off and on from your phone or using your voice if you have a voice assistant set up.
However, not just any smart plug will do. Specifically, you need a Bluetooth smart plug (like this one from GE), rather than the more-common Wi-Fi variant. This is because once you shut off your router, a normal Wi-Fi smart plug will go down with it, meaning you wouldn’t be able to turn your router back on via the smart plug. With a Bluetooth smart plug, it’s completely separate from the router’s Wi-Fi, so it will continue to work whether or not the router is powered up.
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All you have to do is plug the smart plug into a free outlet and set it up to use it with your phone. Next, plug the router into the smart plug, and you’re off to the races. Take note, however, that your router must have a physical on/off toggle switch for this to work—if your router just has an electronic button (like the power buttons on computers) and doesn’t power on automatically, then this won’t work, unfortunately.
If you’re used to pulling the power cord on the router to reset it, or if you know your router comes back on automatically after a power outage, you should be good to go.
A More Expensive, but Smarter Option
If you’re in the market for a whole new router anyway, you could opt for a mesh Wi-Fi system, which comes with all sorts of smarts, including the ability to reboot the system from your phone at any time.
Mesh Wi-Fi systems are just a set of routers that you spread across your house, and they communicate with each other to blanket your entire house with a consistent Wi-Fi signal. They’re easy to set up and are great for those who don’t want to bother with advanced router settings.
We’ve discussed Eero and Google Wi-Fi before, both of which are great options, and they both support remote rebooting. But you can also easily see what devices are on the network, how much bandwidth they’re using, and even set up parental controls to limit certain devices.
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