Best Ways to Reset a Home Network Router

3 different router reset methods

You may want to reset your network router if you can't remember the administrator password, you've forgotten the network wireless security key, or you're troubleshooting connectivity issues.

The following process is not the same as restarting a router or modem.

Illustration of a person in a living room with a television on the wall showing a blocked Wi-Fi signal
 Lifewire / Miguel Co

Best Methods for Resetting Routers 

Several different router reset methods can be used depending on the situation. Hard resets, power cycling, and soft resets are commonly recommended.

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How to Reset a Home Network Router

Hard Resets

A hard reset is the most drastic type of router reset and is commonly used when an administrator has forgotten the password or keys and wants to start over with fresh settings.

Some router manufacturers might have a preferred way to reset their router, and some methods to reset a router may differ between models.

Since the software on the router is reset to factory defaults, a hard reset removes all customizations, including passwords, usernames, security keys, port forwarding settings, and custom DNS servers. Hard resets do not remove or revert the currently-installed version of router firmware, however.

To avoid internet connectivity complications, disconnect the broadband modem from the router before performing a hard reset.

To perform a hard reset:

  1. With the router powered on, turn it to the side that has the Reset button. The Reset button is either on the back or the bottom.

  2. With something small and pointed, like a paperclip, hold down the Reset button for 30 seconds.

  3. Release the Reset button and wait 30 seconds for the router to fully reset and power back on.

An alternative method called the 30-30-30 hard reset rule involves holding down the Reset button for 90 seconds instead of 30, and can be tried if the basic 30-second version doesn't work.

Power Cycling

Shutting off and re-applying power to a router is called power cycling. It's used to recover from glitches that cause a router to drop connections such as corruption of the unit's internal memory or overheating. Power cycles do not erase saved passwords, security keys, or other settings saved using the router console.

To power cycle the router:

  • Turn off the power to the router. Either turn off the Power switch or unplug the power cord. 
  • On battery-powered routers, remove the battery.

Some people wait 30 seconds out of habit, but it's not necessary to wait more than a few seconds between unplugging and reattaching the router power cord. As with hard resets, the router takes time after power is restored to resume operation.

Soft Resets

When troubleshooting internet connectivity issues, it can help to reset the connection between the router and modem. This may just involve removing the physical connection between the two, not manipulating the software or disabling power.

Compared to other kinds of resets, soft resets take effect almost instantaneously because they don't require the router to reboot.

To perform a soft reset, unplug the cable that connects the router to the modem, then reconnect it after a few seconds.

Some routers may have a different way to perform a soft reset:

  • Look for a Disconnect/Connect button on the console. This resets the connection between the modem and the service provider.
  • Open the router console. In the menu, select Restore Factory Defaults or something similar. This feature replaces the router's customized settings (such as passwords and keys) with the original ones it had at the factory, without requiring a hard reset.
  • Find and press the Reset Security button on the Wi-Fi console screen. This will replace the subset of the router's wireless network settings with the defaults while leaving other settings unchanged. Specifically, the router name (SSID), wireless encryption, and Wi-Fi channel number settings are all reverted.

To avoid confusion around which settings get changed on a security reset, Linksys owners can avoid this option and use Restore Factory Defaults instead.

Replacing the Router

If you're trying to solve a problem with the router by resetting it, and that didn't fix the issue, it may be time to replace it with a better router.