The Default IP addressEvery device on a home network—whether it’s a computer, a network printer, a tablet, a smartphone, a Wi-Fi-connected Blu-ray player or video-streaming device—must have its own IP address so that the router knows where to send data that’s intended for that device. That means that the router itself, which is, after all, a device on the network, must also have its own IP address.
Linksys manufactures a wide range of router models, but most Linksys broadband routers use a default IPv4 address of 192.168.1.1. There’s nothing sacred about this number, and technically any other device, including another router, a computer or a printer, could use the address.
Manufacturers tend to stay clear of other brands’ default addresses, however; for example, Netgear routers usually have a default IP address of 192.168.0.1, and Belkin typically uses 192.168.2.1 for its routers. In any case, the router’s default IP address will be specified in the documentation that comes with the device.
The devices on your wireless network usually do a pretty good job of finding the router that defines the network by looking for its SSID, which stands for Service Set Identifier, a name that describes the router’s wireless network and allows devices on that network to communicate with one another. It’s a good thing for you to know your router’s IP address, though, because by using the IP address, you can access the router in order to change its configuration and settings, such as the network password or even the SSID.
What does IP Stand For?The acronym IP stands for “internet protocol,” and it refers to a communications protocol that allows data to be passed from one network to another. The protocol provides a standard for the format of packets of data, which lets a network know how to interpret the pieces of data it receives from another network. The protocol also includes an addressing system, so that the receiving network knows where to send the data it receives.
Each host—which could be a computer, a printer or another device—on a network has its own IP address, an identifier that ensures that data packets are delivered to the device they’re intended to reach. The IP address is a series of numbers separated by punctuation; the original format for IP addresses, called IPv4, consists of four numbers, each between 0 and 255, separated by dots, and the later IPv6 format consists of eight hexadecimal numbers separated by colons. While the IPv6 standard is becoming more widely used all the time, the IPv4 format is still the most commonly used form of IP addressing.
What is a router?A router is a bit like a traffic cop. It is a device that manages the flow of data between networks by intercepting data packets, reading the destination address on the packet and directing the packets toward their intended recipients. In order to do this, the router consults its internal routing table, which gives the router a set of rules for directing data depending on the destination address.
The router may be able to pass the data directly to its intended recipient, or it may simply pass it to another router or network that is closer to the destination address. In the most basic sense, the Internet is merely a gigantic system of routers that pass data back and forth to one another until the data gets to where it needs to be.
Technically, a router can sit anywhere between two data lines, managing the flow of data from one line to the other. Routers can define sub networks within a larger network, such as on college campuses or in large corporate settings. The most well-known type of router in today’s network environment, however, is the home or small office router, which sits between a home network and the modem that connects the home network to the Internet via cable or DSL. In this case, the router receives data from the Internet and sends it to the appropriate device on the home network, and it collects data from the home network devices and sends it out to be routed toward its destination on the Internet.
Configuring the router via IP address
In order to access the router’s configuration interface, power on the router and connect it to a computer with an Ethernet cable. Launch a web browser on the computer and enter the router’s IP address in the browser’s address bar. Some newer Linksys routers will also send you to the router’s configuration page if you type “http://myrouter.local” into the address bar.
You’ll then be prompted to enter the router’s username and password. If this is the first time you’ve configured the router, the username and password will be set to the default; for many Linksys routers, the default username is left blank, and the default password is “admin.” If you’ve previously changed the username and password from the default, you’ll need to enter the new settings here.
Once you’ve made it past the authentication step, you’ll be able to use the router’s configuration interface in your browser to change just about every network setting imaginable, including the network password, the SSID and even the router’s IP address.
Resetting the router If your router is not working correctly, or if you’ve messed things up by changing settings that you really shouldn’t have changed, you may need to reset the router to its factory-default settings. To do this, turn off the router, disconnect it from the network and any other devices, and find the reset button on the back of the router. Press and hold this button for up to 30 seconds—you may need to use the tip of a pen or a bent paperclip to reach the recessed button—and then power the router back on and allow it to reboot.
Once you do this, the router will be restored to its original default settings, including its default SSID, username, password and IP address—which is probably 192.168.1.1.