This is an important nuance in home networking; many times home internet users want to just quickly reboot/restart their router WITHOUT doing a full factory reset or losing any saved settings/details. How do we make sure we reset a router correctly so that we don’t lose anything we don’t want to?
In this guide, we’ll go over all the different ways to perform a “soft”/quick reset of your router that doesn’t classify as a full factory reset and therefore won’t delete any custom settings you have on the router. It will literally just quickly restart the router to solve any minor connection or other issues.
Here are the main ways to do a quick reset safely without doing a factory reset:
- Quickly press the reset button if present (not the reset hole).
- Alternatively, toggle Off/On the power button/switch.
- Turn the router off from the wall for 30 seconds.
- Unplug the router for 30 seconds and plug back in.
- Some routers can be restarted from the settings page.
- Don’t insert anything into any recessed “reset” hole.
We’ll cover all of these steps in details, with illustrations, so any users know what to do for a quick reboot/reset. We’ll also clearly distinguish between a quick and factory reset so users know what to avoid doing.
Option #1 – Press The Reset Button (Not The Reset Hole)
On some routers nowadays there’s some kind of button specifically labelled “reset” somewhere on the device. It’s often located near the power/internet/Wi-Fi LEDs on the front, or else on the rear near the LAN ports or AC power socket where you plug the power cord in.
It will look something like this:
If this is on your router, then to quickly restart/reboot it, just quickly press this reset button.
This will initiate a quick restart of the router, which usually take 1-2 minutes, but will not do a factory reset. No settings will be lost and in most cases, devices will remain connected. There will just be a short disruption in connectivity while it reboots.
Note that the reset button is often distinguished from the recessed reset hole, which is for factory resets. Stay away from any of these reset holes if you just want to do a quick reboot.
Option #2 – Turn The Power Button Off/On (Some Routers)
However, not all routers have a special “reset” button that you can quickly press for a reboot. Others handle this restart function with their power button.
Example #1 – Some routers have a simple power button on them with the classical power sign:
What to do – Just pressing this power button in usually does exactly the same as a reset button would, initiating a quick reboot of the router.
Example #2 – Other times, there will be a protruding power button that sticks out, and having it pushed/clicked down means your router is on, and having it clicked up means it’s off:
What To do – Quickly clicking the switch up to “Off” and then back down again to “On” acts as a quick reboot/reset of the router.
Example #3 – Other times still there will be an actually toggle/switch with specific On/Off positions that you slide it into:
What to do – Quickly toggling the switch to “Off” and then “On” again acts as a quick reboot/reset of the router.
Option #3 – Power Cycle The Router
In very rare cases, especially on older router models, there may not even be any power button/switch on the device at all, in which cases powering it off from the mains is actually your only way of rebooting it.
In this case, you can perform a power cycle of the router in any of the following ways:
- Just turn the router off from the mains if it has an on/off switch for around 30 seconds, then turn it back on.
- You can also unplug the router fully from the power supply for 30 seconds to a few minutes before plugging it back in (some would argue this is a more thorough way of power cycling a device).
- Turning the router off and on from a switch on the device itself as per Option #2 above also arguably classifies as a power cycling of sorts. It could be argued that you need to fully unplug the device for a period of time to proper do a power cycle.
However, these kind of unplugging/turning off and then restarting procedures should have exactly the same effect as pressing a quick reset button on the router itself, and can resolve and minor connection issues. Again, it may take 1-2 minutes for the connection to fully restore.
Option #4 – Reboot From Within The Router Settings
It can sometimes be the case that we don’t always have physical access to the router itself to toggle it off/on for a quick reboot. It might be locked away in a room that we don’t have access to, so how do we reset it in this case?
Many routers also have an option to either turn a router Off/On or quickly reboot it from within the router settings interface itself. To access this, you need to log into your router’s settings and you can usually find it under Power/Reset options, or something similar.
However, to login to a router, you also need the login credentials, which are again on the router itself on a sticker, which leaves you stuck again if you don’t have access to it and don’t know them off hand.
However, you can usually find in a roundabout way the login details if you don’t know them.
Here is the general process in very quick form:
- Connect the phone/device to your router’s Wi-Fi
- Type your router’s IP address into any browser address bar
- IP is often 192.168.0.1, 192.168.1.1 or 192.168.1.254
- Type in the username/password (often “admin”/”password”)
- Check the back of the router for login details.
- Find settings to reboot/restart/reset the router.
- Avoid any factory/default reset options
See our detailed article on how to turn your router off from your phone, which covers everything you need for this step also, including logging into your router settings. You might just need to select the “reboot” or “reset” or “restart” option instead. It will be handled differently on different routers and some routers may not have a restart option in their settings; it does vary between models.
If you’re having trouble getting into the router in the first place because you don’t know the login IP, see our comprehensive guide on finding your router IP/username/password remotely if need be. See also our guide on accessing router settings without a LAN cable.
What Happens When You Quickly Reboot a Router?
Some users get worried when they reset their routers, so let’s clarify what actually does and does NOT happen when you perform a quick reset/reboot/restart of your router:
- All devices remain connected to the router. Most times, you won’t even need to re-enter the password (occasionally, some devices might have to)
- The Wi-Fi username(s) and password(s) all remain the same.
- Router login credentials should remain the same (either the default ones on the back or custom ones if you’ve changed them manually)
- All router settings remain the same
- There will be a disruption of connectivity (usually for around 1-2 minutes) while the router reboots. This does mean that online streams/Skypes will be interrupted.
- Downloads may be cancelled and have to be restarted. Sometimes they can be resumed from where you left off, but not always.
Only a full factory reset (not a quick reset) actually wipes all custom settings/passwords/history and restores the router to default settings, as it was when brand new from the factory. We’ll cover this in the next section.
Avoiding a Factory Reset
Here a bottom line answer on how to avoid doing a factory reset on any router:
To avoid factory resetting your router, stay away from any recessed reset holes on the device. Do not insert any sharp objects into it and instead either use the normal reset button/switch or the power supply to quickly reboot the router without wiping any settings.
In fairness, it’s pretty much impossible to do a full factory reset on any router accidentally because of the way you need to initiate them. On most routers, you need to push a sharp object into a recessed “reset” hole somewhere for several seconds at least; on some routers up to 20 or 30 seconds, and then release when the lights on the router blink or go out.
I think it will be difficult to find someone who’s ever done this by accident! The process is designed to be intentional precisely to avoid it being done accidentally, so there isn’t much to worry about. However, on a very few routers, even just pushing something into this hole for as little as a few seconds can initiate a factory reset, so just to be safe, keep any sharp objects away from this hole to avoid any scares.
Whenever you’ve just flicked or pushed a reset button quickly by accident, it’s going to be the quick reset/reboot button, and barring some minor inconvenience as the router restarts, and some annoyance from disconnected users, there’s no need to worry about losing data or settings.