How to set up your router

what to know

  • Plug the router into a wall or surge protector and connect it to your modem using an Ethernet cable.
  • What happens next depends on the router. Newer ones are set up through the app; others require an IP address for access.
  • After logging into your router's management dashboard, you can set up your Wi-Fi network and change other settings.

This article explains how to set up your router for the first time. Internet time should not exceed 15 minutes.

Here are the main steps to help you get started with your new router. It's a good idea to keep your router's manual nearby, though, as some details will vary depending on the specific device you have. For example, a mesh network router is very different from a traditional router. If you are missing a physical copy, the manual is usually available online.

This guide assumes that you have purchased an internet plan from your service provider. While a router is a necessary home network component, you won't be able to access the internet unless you subscribe to an internet plan through your ISP.

  1. Connect the router to a power source and wait a few minutes for it to turn on. Most will power on automatically, in which case their status light will indicate that they are on. If this doesn't happen, look for the power button and turn it on.

  2. Use an Ethernet cable to connect the router to the modem installed by your ISP. If the modem is installed outside, there should be a cable or port inside the house that the router can connect to.

    If you are setting up a wired router, congratulations! You're done. The router will now work with the device you connected via Ethernet.

  3. Install your router's companion app (if you have one) to continue setting up there. This is only relevant for modern routers, and every router brand works differently, but the box should have details on what to do for this step.

    For example, Google's routers are set up and managed through the Google Home app.

  4. Your wireless router is now set up! Connect to a preconfigured Wi-Fi network using default connection information. You can do this from your computer, tablet, or smartphone.

    Check the bottom or back of the router for a label detailing this information. This may also be on a card that came with the router or somewhere in the mobile app.

Unless your home is small or you have a remote router, where you place it is important for coverage. Routers emit Wi-Fi signals in all directions, but the signal can be interrupted by objects and other devices. It also has a limited range.

Wireless routers are best placed in the center of your home, away from obstructions such as concrete or brick walls, appliances, and other electronic devices.

Most routers don't look like works of art, but the more of them you see, the more likely it is to work. If you want to put your wireless router away, hide it with a lightweight, low-density object, such as a stuffed toy or plastic paperweight.

Setting up your router is just the beginning. You also need to know how to manage your network.

There are many things you might be interested in doing with your new network. Changing your Wi-Fi password, updating your device firmware, and editing your default login password are just a few important steps. How you do these and more, such as setting up port forwarding or parental controls, depends on your router.

Most new routers are managed via a mobile app. For example, Linksys routers are accessible through the Linksys app, and AT&T Smart Home Manager is the tool you need to control your AT&T settings. Other routers use their own apps for the same purpose.

If this is an old router, log in using its IP address. Once inside, look for the Wireless , Wi-Fi , or Management section to turn on Wi-Fi networks and make other changes.