Know when to reboot your router so you can maintain a healthy, speedy internet connection.
by Kevin Parrish
Edited by Cara Haynes
Apr 15, 2021 Share
Equipment Guides, How-To
A good rule of thumb is to reboot your router or wireless gateway once a month to clear out its memory and refresh your wired and wireless connections. However, there’s no definitive rule for how often you should reboot either unit.
But don’t confuse the term “reboot” with “reset”—they’re not the same. A “reboot” simply restarts your wireless router, while a “reset” restores your router to its default factory settings. You’ll want to perform a reset only if you’re troubleshooting and reboots don’t work.
We’ll explain how to reboot your router and why you should. We’ll also explain how to perform a factory reset if your troubleshooting comes to that point.
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Jump to: How to reboot your router | 7 reasons why you should reboot your router | How to schedule a reboot | Should you reboot or reset your router? | When you should reset your router | How to reset your router
- How to reboot your router
- 7 reasons why you should reboot your router
- How to schedule a reboot
- Should you reboot or reset your router?
- When you should reset your router
- How to reset your router
How to reboot your router
Rebooting your router or wireless gateway (a router/modem combo) is easy and often necessary if you’re experiencing internet slowdowns, especially on Wi-Fi connections. There are three options for rebooting your router: power cycling your router,using a compatible app for your router, or using the router’s web interface.
Option 1: Power cycle your router
One way to reboot your router is to pull the plug. You won’t hurt it—in fact, power cycling is a better, faster solution than using the app or web-based backend. Why? Because you’re allowing the router’s motherboard to drain any remaining electricity and release data stored in the system memory. This method generally solves your connection issue.
Step 1: Unplug the power cord from the electrical socket.
Step 2: Wait 30 seconds.
Step 3: Plug the power cord back into the electrical socket.
Option 2: Use a compatible app
Many modern routers and wireless gateways now provide mobile apps to manage your wireless network, create a guest Wi-Fi network, and change a few settings. These apps also typically include a button somewhere within the settings that you can tap to reset the device.
Example: Use the Linksys app
From the home screen, do the following:
Step 1: Tap the Internet Slow button located in the bottom right corner.
Step 2: Tap the Restart Your Router link.
You can also reboot the router using the menu. Here’s how:
Step 1: Tap the “hamburger” icon located in the top left corner.
Step 2: Tap Network Administration.
Step 3: Tap the Restart Router button.
Do you have a wireless gateway?
You’ll likely see a button that reads Restart Equipment or something similar. For example, you’ll find this button in Spectrum's My Spectrum app when you tap Services followed by Modem.
Option 3: Use the web interface
Most standalone routers and wireless gateways provide a backend interface you can access using a web browser. Once you enter the username and password, you can reboot the device somewhere from within the settings.
However, the interface provided by each manufacturer is different, so our Linksys instructions might not match what you see on units supplied by other manufacturers.
Example: Reboot a Linksys router
Step 1: Open a web browser, and enter the router’s web or IP address. Linksys prints the web address on a label stuck to the bottom of its routers.
Step 2: Enter the username and password to log in.
Step 3: Click Troubleshooting listed under Router Settings displayed on the left.
Step 4: Click the Diagnostics tab.
Step 5: Click the Restart Router link displayed under Restart.
Are you troubleshooting speed issues?
We provide a vault of information on how to improve your internet speed, like how to extend your Wi-Fi range and how to get better speeds without spending a dime. Be sure that you have the proper Ethernet cable connecting your router to your modem, too.
7 reasons why you should reboot your router
A router is a miniature computer with a processor, system memory, and enough storage to house the operating system. Its job is to assign addresses to all devices and route internet traffic to those addresses. It’s the only public-facing device in your home network while all your computers, tablets, consoles, and other internet-capable devices “hide” behind it.
That said, there are many reasons why you should reboot your router from time to time.
Your router is low on system memory
When your router boots, the processor throws everything that it needs into the system memory. Think of system memory as a temporary holding cell and scratch pad. At some point, all that data juggling not only wears down the processor but also fills the memory’s capacity.
With no working room, the processor slows, as do your wired and wireless connections. A reboot clears the memory so the processor can work optimally.
Perhaps you need a new router!
Like a desktop, laptop, or smartphone, routers become sluggish over time due to age. Consult our lists for the best gigabit routers or the best long-range routers if you believe it’s time for an upgrade.
Your modem and router aren’t communicating properly
Your modem is nothing more than a translator. It takes signals sent by your internet provider and converts them into signals the router can understand and distribute. Miscommunication can happen over time, requiring you to reboot both devices to clear up the confusion.
This requirement is especially relevant when the modem desynchronizes with your internet provider’s operator—a device that communicates with multiple consumer-side modems.
You have an IP address conflict
Your router has a public IP address assigned by your internet provider. It also has a private IP address not assigned by your provider that interfaces with your devices. It uses this private IP address to assign an individual address to each device so it knows where to route internet traffic.
An IP address conflict happens when two devices have the same address. Conflicts should never occur, as the router assigns addresses based on each device’s wired and wireless networking hardware.
However, conflicts can eventually appear, especially if you assigned a static IP address—one that never changes—to a device. In this scenario, the router assigned the same address to another device. Restarting the router and the devices with conflicting addresses will clear the issue.
Does a modem have an address?
Your modem has an address, but only for hardware management. It’s not used for internet connectivity— just to see and troubleshoot the device from the provider’s side.
Your router is overheating
Components like processors, system memory, and transistors generate heat and need ventilation to dissipate that heat. These components can’t function optimally when hot, and excessive heat can cause damage and device failure over time. Overheating translates to slow speeds and dropped signals.
Power cycling your router for a few moments allows these components to cool down, so they return to optimal performance. However, if you have an old router and more connected devices than it can handle, the high traffic can stress the processor to the point that it grows too hot to function normally. A new router may be in order or moving it to a location with better ventilation.
New routers have improved features and speeds
Check out our selection of the best routers with parental controls if you have kids, or our list of the best mesh Wi-Fi systems and routers if you need to cover more open space than the typical router’s range.
Your internet provider assigns a public, dynamic IP address to your router or wireless gateway. When you reboot either device, it receives a new IP address from your internet provider.
With that in mind, you can reduce your chances of a cyber attack by acquiring a new public IP address each time you reboot. That way, a hacker can’t use one of your old public IP addresses to gain control of your router.
What’s the difference between a dynamic and a static IP address?
A dynamic IP address is a random public address assigned by your internet provider that changes every 14 days or so, depending on the provider. Your router or wireless gateway also “leases” new private addresses to your devices every seven days. A static IP address, however, never changes, whether it’s public or private.
Change the frequency channel
The 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz frequency bands divide into numerous channels, most of which overlap. Your router or wireless gateway automatically selects the best channel. However, those channels can become crowded over time from other networks using the same airwaves and the devices you and everyone else use.
While you can open the router’s settings and manually switch channels, you’ll need to know which channels to use before making the change. Rebooting your router or wireless gateway allows the device to rescan the area and select the channels you need for the best wireless performance.
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How to schedule a reboot
Some modern routers and wireless gateways provide the means to schedule a reboot from within a compatible app or web-based interface.
For example, TP-Link routers have a tool that allows you to set the day, time, and interval. You could then schedule a monthly reboot at 3:00 a.m. every Sunday, so you’re not disrupting everyone’s connection during regular hours.
If you can’t schedule a reboot, you can purchase a smart plug that cuts power to the router on a specific day, time, and duration. Xiaomi’s Mi Smart Plug is a good example, as you can create a schedule within the Mi Home app (Android/iOS) using the Set Time feature (not the Schedule component).
Example: Set a schedule on a Mi Smart Plug
Step 1: With Mi Home open, tap on a smart plug that’s already connected to your wireless network and paired with your Mi Home account.
Step 2: Tap Set Time.
Step 3: Tap Start Time and select a time when you want the plug to cut power.
Step 4: Tap Repeat followed by Custom on the pop-up menu to set a specific day.
Step 5: Tap the check mark in the top right corner to save your settings.
Step 6: Tap End Time and select a time and day when the plug resumes power to the router.
Want to see if a reboot fixed your internet slowdown?
Be sure to run our speed test to find out if there’s any improvement. We suggest that you run the test from a wired device first.
Run the Speed Test
Should you reboot or reset your router?
A router reboot or reset depends on the situation. These terms have different meanings, although they’re used synonymously when referring to network troubleshooting.
A router reboot does the following:
- Clears out the memory
- Resolves conflicts with the modem
- Resolves conflicts with IP addresses
- Changes your public IP address
- Rediscovers the best channels
A router reset does the following:
- Reverts all settings back to their factory defaults
A router reset is similar to resetting a PC or a mobile device to its factory defaults. It restores the operating system, reverts all settings to their out-of-the-box state, and deletes everything you downloaded to the device.
When you should reset your router
Resets are ideal for fixing bad software installations, clearing out unseen junk, and removing malware. It’s your last-ditch option before tossing your router out the window and purchasing a new model.
You should reset your router when no other options are available. However, this method resets everything: the firmware, the network’s name, the login credentials, the Wi-Fi password, and any customizations you made before the reset, like port forwards and static IP addresses.
Rebooting and resetting became a hot topic in 2018 when the VPNFilter malware infected 500,000 routers made by Linksys, MikroTik, NETGEAR, and TP-Link. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) advised owners to reboot their routers to disrupt the botnet temporarily.1 The US Department of Justice followed up with a warning that owners should reset their infected routers.2
That said, you should reset your router to the factory default settings if you experience one of these scenarios:
- It’s infected with malware.
- It refuses a password you can’t recover.
- It stops functioning correctly after a firmware update.
- You want to sell it, give it away, or toss it in the trash.
Don’t reset your internet provider’s router or gateway!
The equipment is not yours to alter, so any unintentional damage caused by a reset comes out of your pocket. If you experience one of the scenarios above with rented equipment, call your provider to have a technician visit or supply a new unit.
How to reset your router or wireless gateway
Most routers and wireless gateways provide a button on the back that you press to revert them to their out-of-the-box state. Manufacturers provide this button in two ways:
- Surface-mounted: Just press and hold for 10 seconds.
- Recessed-mounted: The button is inside a hole. Use a paper clip to reach in and press and hold the button for 10 seconds.
Once you release the button, you should see LEDs on the device indicating that it’s performing a hard reset and booting up with the refreshed settings.
Are you experiencing speed issues with your current plan?
If a reboot or reset doesn’t help, you may need an internet upgrade. Enter your zip code below to find a better plan that’s available in your area.
More home networking tips
- How to Forget a Wi-Fi Network on Your Device: iOS, Android, and More
- Can I Install Internet by Myself?
- Is My Wi-Fi Slow Because of My Router or My ISP?
- No Internet Connection? How to Troubleshoot Internet Issues
- FBI, “Foreign Cyber Actors Target Home and Office Routers and Networked Devices Worldwide,” May 25, 2018. Accessed August 9, 2021.
- Justice Department, “Justice Department Announces Actions to Disrupt Advanced Persistent Threat 20 Botnet of Infected Routers and Network Storage Devices,” May 23, 2018. Accessed August 9, 2021.
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Author - Kevin Parrish
Kevin Parrish has more than a decade of experience working as a writer, editor, and product tester. He began writing about computer hardware and soon branched out to other devices and services such as networking equipment, phones and tablets, game consoles, and other internet-connected devices. His work has appeared in Tom’s Hardware, Tom's Guide, Maximum PC, Digital Trends, Android Authority, How-To Geek, Lifewire, and others. At HighSpeedInternet.com, he focuses on network equipment testing and review.
Editor - Cara Haynes
Cara Haynes has been editing and writing in the digital space for seven years, and she's edited all things internet for HighSpeedInternet.com for five years. She graduated with a BA in English and a minor in editing from Brigham Young University. When she's not editing, she makes tech accessible through her freelance writing for brands like Pluralsight. She believes no one should feel lost in internet land and that a good internet connection significantly extends your life span.