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Recovering a Forgotten Wireless Router Password

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013 by | Filed Under: Hardware & Peripherals, Security Help

Alice from NC. writes:

My brother-in-law cannot remember the password for his wireless router, so I am unable to connect my laptop when we visit. What can he do so that I can connect?

A password for your wireless network is an unfortunate necessity, especially if you live in an apartment building or have nearby neighbors, as you never know what sort of potentially illegal shenanigans they might get into using your router. This password isn’t used very often however, so it can be a pain to get other people connected when they show up with a laptop or Internet capable phone.

A wireless network actually has two separate passwords – a network security key that is used to prevent unauthorized users from piggybacking off your connection for accessing the Internet, and a factory set password for accessing the router’s advanced settings. The network security key is incredibly simple to recover if you’ve forgotten it and want to let someone else connect to your local wireless network.

To find out what the security key is currently set to, get onto any computer that’s already connected to the network and click the “Network” icon in the lower-right corner of the screen. Click the “Open Network and Sharing Center” link at the bottom of the network menu.

Accessing The Wireless Menu

Open a list of wireless networks your computer has connected to by clicking the “Manage Wireless Networks” link at the upper-left corner of the window.

Managing Wireless Networks

Locate the name of your wireless network in the list and right-click the entry. Select the “Properties” option from the pop-up menu.

Wireless Network Properties

Navigate to the “Security” tab at the top of the screen and locate the “Network Security Key” text box at the middle of the window. The box will be filled with small black dots instead of the actual characters contained in the password. Click the check box labeled “Show Characters” and the security password for your network will appear in the text box.

Showing The Network Password

If you’ve forgotten the password for accessing your router’s options menu (which includes the ability to change the network security key), unfortunately there really isn’t an effective way to recover this password. Instead, the best option is to simply reset the password to factory settings. Located on the back of your wireless router is a small hole labeled “Reset,” which is usually positioned above the power jack or at the far right side of all the Ethernet ports.

Unfold a paper clip and press the unfolded end into the hole for 10 seconds, or you can instead use the tip of a pen if a paper clip isn’t readily available. This resets the router to its original factory settings, including the user name and password.

The Router Reset Password

The manual that was included with your router will list the default user name and password, or if you don’t have the manual you can instead find this information on the router manufacturer’s support website. For many routers the default user name and password are both set to “admin,” but this can vary greatly between manufacturers and different models. Navigate your web browser to the address “” to bring up your router’s interface and type the default user name and password into the text boxes.

Accessing The Router's Menu

Hope this helps!

~ Ty Arthur

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4 Responses to “Recovering a Forgotten Wireless Router Password”

  1. Gary Gililland says:

    For the past 4 days I have been having router problems. I will try some of these fixex on my router.

  2. Jim Doty says:

    Many recent routers come preconfigured with a passphrase. If so you will find it on the label of the router itself. That is, unless she has changed it.

  3. Mark says:

    Not all manufacturers use Some use, some use and possibly other things as well. The manual you mentioned for getting the default user and password should also have this information. If the manual is unavailable you can find all of this info by doing a Web search with the router manufacturer name and the model number.

  4. Brenda says:

    Had this happen to me last week…Thanks!

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