How to Properly Restart a Router & Modem

Rebooting your network devices in the right order makes all the difference

Rear view of a D-Link AC3200 (DIR-890L/R) wireless router

D-Link

Reboot your router and modem if you suspect that your network isn't working as it should. Maybe web pages aren't loading, or Netflix freezes halfway through a movie, or your smart speaker suddenly stops playing music. Whatever the case may be, restarting the router gives it time to cool off and flush out its memory. Sometimes, especially with older hardware, having the router on and working in overdrive for too long is enough to demand a restart.

When to Restart Your Router

Restarting (also known as rebooting) is one of the simplest troubleshooting steps you can take to fix what isn't working properly. Does Windows seem a little buggy today? Reboot the computer. Is your iPhone not connecting to Wi-Fi anymore? Restart the phone and try again.

It can be annoying when describing a problem to an IT department or a tech support agent and they suggest a restart or reboot right away, but the fact is, restarting fixes a lot of problems.

Restarting also fixes problems with network hardware, such as a digital modem (be it cable, DSL, satellite, or fiber) and a router. Did your smartphone and laptop both lose connection to the internet? Is your NAS no longer showing up on your desktop? Are your connected devices sluggish when it comes to streaming and browsing online? If so, reboot the router and modem. Rebooting network hardware corrects network and internet issues 75% of the time or more.

The router and modem must be restarted in the right order for the reboot to fix the problem. If the devices are not rebooted in the correct order, you could lose internet connectivity completely.

1:23

How to Reboot a Router & Modem

Steps to Reboot a Router and Modem

Follow the short process below for the best possible chance of improving the situation. Rebooting this way works with most makes and models of routers and modems.

Illustration of a modem with the steps to reboot a router on the left-hand side of the image
Lifewire / Miguel Co

The following process is not the same as resetting a router or modem. See Resetting vs. Rebooting at the bottom of this page for more information.

  1. Unplug the router and the modem. If you have other managed network hardware, such as network switches, unplug that hardware. Unmanaged devices can be left powered on, but use your judgment if you think these might be part of the problem.

    Don't use a button labeled Reset or Restart, since these likely start the factory reset or restore process. A clearly labeled power button is probably fine to use, but unplugging removes any doubt.

  2. Wait at least 30 seconds. This time lets the devices cool down and indicates to your ISP, computers, and other devices that the router and modem are offline.

    This step may not be necessary if you know what the problem is with the connection. Restart the router and modem when you don't know what's wrong.

  3. Plug in the modem. If it doesn't power on in the first few seconds, press the Power button.

    The modem is the device that your connection to the internet attaches to. For example, with cable-based internet service, the modem attaches to the coax cable from outside the home.

  4. Wait at least 60 seconds. During this time, the modem authenticates with your ISP and is assigned a public IP address.

    Most modems have four lights: a power light, a received light, a send light, and an activity light. When the first three lights are stable, the modem is fully powered on. If there's an internet light, wait for it to turn on to confirm that the modem is getting internet from your ISP.

  5. Plug in the router. Some routers may require that you press a Power button. On a combination modem-router, skip this and the next step. The software in that device initiates things in the proper order.

    The router is physically connected to the modem, so the device next to the modem is probably the router. Not all routers have an antenna, but many do, so if you see one or more of those, that's probably the router.

  6. Wait at least 2 minutes. This gives the router time to boot up. It also gives computers, smartphones, and other devices that use the network time to get new private IP addresses assigned by the DHCP service in the router.

    If you turned off the power for switches or other network hardware, power those back on. Then, wait a minute. If you have several devices, power them on from the outside-in, based on your network map.

  7. When the router and modem restart, test to see if the problem went away.

It's not necessary to restart computers and other wireless devices, but you may need to if some of the devices are online and others aren't. Restart the computer the right way. If restarting isn't an option, renew your IP address by entering ipconfig /renew in Command Prompt.

If rebooting the router and modem didn't fix the problem, follow more specific troubleshooting methods for the network or internet issue. If the modem has trouble getting a signal from your ISP (the first three lights aren't solid), contact your ISP for help. Otherwise, look closer at the network setup inside your home.

Resetting vs. Rebooting

There is a fundamental difference between resetting a router or modem and rebooting one. One is more temporary than the other and both are used for unique purposes.

The directions on this page are for rebooting a modem or router to shut them down and start them back up again without removing any settings or making any changes to the software.

To reset a router or modem is the short version of a factory reset of the device, which means removing the wireless settings and other configurations. Resetting puts the router or modem in its original default state before any changes were made to it, which includes reinstating the default router password, clearing the Wi-Fi password, deleting custom DNS servers, and more.

Reset a modem or router by using the Reset button that's usually located on the back or side of the device. Find out how to reset a router if you can't log in with the default password or if there's a bigger problem with the network hardware that rebooting does not fix.