How to Restart Your Wi-Fi Router

Catherine McNally
Jul 07, 2023
Icon Time To Read3 min read

Is your Netflix show constantly buffering? Are you tired of that dreaded “No internet connection” error when you’re trying to work from home? Whatever the case, we feel you.

Before you rage at your internet service provider (ISP), try restarting your wireless router to see if a refresh fixes your issue. This simple fix could mean you don’t have to call customer support! That’s a win if we ever heard one.

Ready to give it a go? Let’s fix that internet and get you back online, pronto!

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1. Unplug your router and modem

First, unplug your router and modem from the power outlet in the wall. Next, unplug any connections between your modem and wireless router.

Oh, also—look for power buttons on your router and modem. Some have ‘em—most don’t. If you do have them, try pressing those instead of unplugging everything. But don’t mix up the power buttons with the factory reset buttons! You do not want to press those.

Once the equipment is unplugged or powered down, it’s time to step away. You want your router and modem to rest for a bit so the equipment’s memory has time to refresh. This will take about a minute or two—but letting your equipment sit longer won’t hurt it.

Go make a cup of coffee, chat with a family member, or take your dog out for a walk while you wait.

2. Plug your modem back into the wall

After you’ve let your modem and router clear out their memory, plug your modem into the wall first.

We repeat, plug your modem’s power cord in first!

Don’t plug your router in yet, and don’t hook up any other connections.

Give your modem about a minute to power up. You’ll see the lights on the front blink or turn on and off, which is normal.

Once most or all of your modem’s lights steadily glow green, you’re ready for the next step.

3. Plug your router back in

Now it’s time for your router to start broadcasting that Wi-Fi signal. Go ahead and plug it back into the wall and reconnect it to your modem.

See that little reset button on your router? Don’t touch it! Chances are it will set your router back to factory settings. That means wiping your Wi-Fi password and that awesome Wi-Fi network name you set up. (We see you, Pretty Fly for a Wi-Fi.)

Once you’ve plugged your router back in, give it a minute to power back up.

Again, you’ll probably see lots of flashing lights at first—this is still normal as the router starts all of its processes back up again.

4. Update your firmware and apps

Once your modem and router power back up, it’s time to do your due diligence and update your firmware and any apps your equipment uses.

Why should you update the firmware? Firmware contains updates for your router and modem that keep them running smoothly. These firmware updates could squash performance problems and even boost your internet speed.

Make sure to download firmware only from official sites! Never download anything from a site you don’t know. Cybercriminals are always looking for ways to sneak malware onto your computer, so only download firmware for your router and modem straight from the manufacturer’s website.

5. Look for a new internet provider

You don't need to do this every time you reset your router, but if you're always headed to the basement or closet where the router's stored, you should consider switching internet service providers.

If your internet is constantly disconnecting or maybe just slow, look at our picks for the best internet service providers nationwide. One might offer you a better (and faster!) deal.

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Done with your ISP? Look for better internet providers near you.

Recap: How do you restart your Wi-Fi router and fix your internet?

Restarting your modem and router is as easy as unplugging all your equipment, waiting a couple of minutes, then plugging in first your modem and then router after your modem powers back up

We also recommend updating your equipment’s firmware and apps to get the latest technical issue fixes and optimizations. Updated firmware can help increase your internet speeds, and who could say no to that?

Now that you know how to restart your router, check these out next.

Is it time for a new router? Here's what to look for.

We've got more easy ways to speed up your internet—without paying a dime.

FAQ

Do you still have questions about restarting your router? We can help.

The first step is to be a computer guru—you’ll need to know your router’s IP address. According to Lifehacker, you can enter the address into a browser, which should lead you to the option to maintain your router (including restarting it).

But here’s a better way, as suggested by Lifewire—simply plug your router into a smart plug, and you can turn the plug on and off from anywhere.

No, restarting is not the same as resetting your router.

While restarting and resetting your router sound the same, they actually mean two very different things.

Resetting your router will completely wipe any configurations you’ve saved and restore it to factory default router settings. That means you’ll have to set up your Wi-Fi password, network name (SSID), and more all over again.

Restarting your router, which we cover in this guide, lets your equipment flush out any issues stored in the memory and cool off. All your configurations are still saved after a restart.

And what about rebooting? What does that mean?

Rebooting your router is the same thing as restarting it. 

 

Move to FAQ

Restart your router at least once a month. This allows it to mend issues, take a breather, and fix internet connection problems.

Also, if your internet is moseying along at a snail's pace, go ahead and restart your router even if it hasn't been a month yet.

Similarly, if it’s been a month and your Wi-Fi’s clipping along without any connectivity issues, restart the router anyway. Just in case.

Manufacturers recommend checking for router firmware updates every three to four years. Some router companies may also contact you if they have a critical firmware update.

If your router seems to slow down your internet, it's worth checking for a firmware update on the official manufacturer's site.

Internet company reps love to tell you to "power cycle" your modem, but what the heck does that mean? Basically, power cycling your router and modem is unplugging your equipment from the wall, letting it rest for a few minutes, and then plugging everything back in.

Power cycling, like restarting your router, should help your equipment refresh itself and clean up any errors in its internal memory that could cause your internet to slow down.

The Wi-Fi router you use may depend on your ISP! Not all routers work with all providers.

But in some cases, you can choose your own router. If that happens, you should see our best wireless routers for streaming!

You can get internet by plugging a device directly into a modem, no router required. But you cannot get Wi-Fi without a router—Wi-Fi is, by its nature, a wireless connection.

Catherine McNally
Written by
Catherine McNally
Catherine has a degree in journalism and an MBA, and has spent the last 10+ years writing everything from Okinawa travel guides to stories on Medium. She’s been online since AOL CDs were a thing and is an unapologetic PC gamer. She believes the internet is a necessity, not a luxury, and writes reviews and guides to help everyone stay connected. You can also find her on Twitter: @CMReviewsIt.

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