Help — I Can’t Remember My Network Passwords!

Here’s the good news: Because you’ve locked down your wireless network and router configuration settings, you’re one step ahead of anyone trying to access your network and its devices.

The bad news? Depending on which password you’ve forgotten – the Wi-Fi password that enables you to connect devices to your router, or the administrative password you use to log directly in to your router —you’re either in for a short visit to your router’s Web configuration screen or a total router reset.

I’ll start with the easy one: the forgotten Wi-Fi password. Once you’ve set and saved a Wi-Fi password on your laptop, after all, you won’t ever need to change it — though I do recommend you change all of your passwords a few times a year.

Resetting your Wi-Fi password is easy. Type your router’s IP address —192.168.0.1— into your Web browser. At the login screen, select “admin” from the drop down menu and enter your password. Once you access the Web configuration screen, click the “Wireless Settings” link on the left-hand side. From there, click on the “Manual Wireless Connection Setup” button, scroll down to the field representing my “Pre-Shared Key,” and type in a new password. (I use a hybrid WPA/WPA2 security mode.) That’s it!

Now for the more challenging of the two: the forgotten admin password. If you forget your Web configuration password, you’re stuck: You have no way to change any settings on your router. Your only recourse is to use a paperclip or other pointy object to reset your router to its factory settings. With the paperclip, hold down the tiny reset button on the back of your router for about five seconds: Your router lights will blink to confirm the factory reset. You can now use the router’s default password to log into its Web configuration screen (look in your router manual if you can’t remember what this is). Once you’re in, be sure to change this password to something unique. (To ensure a strong password, try <a href="http://strongpasswordgenerator.com/">Strong Password Generator</a>.)

While a factory reset is simple to do, you unfortunately lose all of your router’s configuration settings. There is good news, though. With just a few clicks in your router’s Web configuration screen ahead of time, you can save your router’s configuration to a file on your computer so you can restore your settings easily after a factory reset.

Here’s how: Click on the Tools menu at the top of the page, then on the “System” option on the left, and click “Save Configuration.”

We all forget passwords. But with a little prep work, your router will be ready to rebound when you have the inevitable memory slip.

Subscribe to the Business Brief Newsletter