Forgetting the router password is very common because you are normally advised to change the password when you first set it up and you don’t really need to access the router options anymore when you’ve finished configuring it. It is quite troublesome when you forget the router password because some important information such as the key/password for your wireless connection and your ISP username/password for the internet connection are saved in the router. If you can’t access your router’s configuration, you can’t change the wireless key or update your ISP connection information.
The most obvious advice you’d find on the Internet is to simply hard reset the router back to default configuration but we’d leave that as a last resort because doing so will also reset everything and you’ll have to reconfigure the router. Here are some possible ways to access your router if you’ve forgotten the password.
If you don’t remember changing the router password and can’t find the manual which normally has the default password printed on it, your best bet is to try searching for the default password for the model of your router. In fact, most non-savvy computer users don’t bother changing the router password anyway.
Here are 3 websites that have a huge database of default router passwords. You will need to know the brand and model of your router which can normally be found on the router itself. If you’re unable to find your router’s model listed on the database, you can try a combination between “admin”, “password”, “1234”, “root”, “blank” (nothing) or the router’s brand name.
Most of the routers out there allow you to export or save the current configuration settings and if you’ve previously done that, you can use an excellent tool called RouterPassView to decrypt the encrypted password that is saved in the configuration file. For example, Belkin routers save the configuration file as user.conf while D-Link is backupsettings.conf.
If RouterPassView is able to decrypt the password in the router configuration file, the process is instant. As useful as RouterPassView is, you need to have a backup of the configuration file first and the tool itself must be able to support your router or else you’ll get nothing out of it.
3. Router Password Kracker
Another possible method to recover the forgotten router password is to crack the password through a dictionary attack. This would mean you will use a piece of software to automatically attempt to login to the router based on a list of words found in a dictionary file. The program itself comes with a password list (passlist.txt) which contains the most commonly used words for a router password.
Unless the router you’re trying to crack has a brute force protection that temporarily bans your IP address after a few failed logins, the cracking process should be quite fast if you’re doing this via local network. Obviously the chance of cracking the router password is quite slim, especially if you have changed it to something personal, but at least it is fully automated and much faster if compared to manually typing the passwords.
4. Hard Reset
If all else fails, you’re probably left with the last option which is to reset the router back to its factory settings. You can normally find a small pinhole with the word reset on top of it at the back of your router. To reset it, simply use a pin or bent paperclip to press the button and hold it for 30 seconds while the router is turned on.
The disadvantage in hard resetting a router back to its default factory settings is you will need to reconfigure everything such as your Internet connection, custom firewall settings, port forwarding if you’re not using uPnP, wireless settings and optionally the DNS, Dynamic DNS, remote management, MAC address filtering and etc. In our experience, the most important piece of information is probably your ISP username and password because most people tend to forget the password, just like the router because you don’t really need to change it once it has been configured.
Additional Tip: You might also want to check the bottom of the router because some routers, especially those supplied by an ISP, have a sticker with the default username and password to login to the router.