written by: Steve McFarlane•edited by: M.S. Smith•updated: 8/31/2010
Someday it will happen - you're trying to make changes to your Wi-Fi router and realize that you forgot the password or security key. Here is how to recover your Wi-Fi router's password.
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There are a couple of options you can use to reset your router’s password or bring it back to factory defaults. Fortunately you don’t have to resort to hacking or cracking methods to recover your Wi-Fi’s password or security key, especially since you have physical access to the Wi-Fi router.
Manufacturers make it easy to reset router passwords once you have physical access to the router, which is why it is a good idea to physically secure the router, or at least keep it out of plain sight if the security of your wireless connection is of importance to you.
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Option 1 - Restore the router to factory defaults
If you lost the administration password or can’t find the manual that shows the default password, you may need to do a manual reset of the router.Please note that this will erase any configuration that was made on the device including user names. Once you have restored the router to its factory default settings it will be ready to be configured just as if it were brand new. Here is how the process works.
Manually Reset the Router - Look to the back or bottom of your wireless router and identify the reset button. Hold down the button (use a paper clip or pen if it’s a pinhole) for a couple of seconds until you see the lights change their flashing pattern, which will suggest that it is in configuration mode. Please note: on some routers will reset after holding down the button for 10 sec, while others will require you holding the button for more than 30sec.
Access the Control Panel - From a computer that is connected to the router, enter the router’s control panel by entering 192.168.0.1 (some routers use 192.168.1.1) in the address bar of a browser and press enter. On Netgear products the default login address is Routerlogin.net. You should be prompted to enter a password. If you had left it to the default both the password and username should be “admin".
Set a new password – Setting a new password will vary depending on the router you are using but you should be able to find and set a new admin password from the tools or admin menu. Save the settings and exit the interface.
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Option 2 - Use Wirelesskeyview to find your Wi-Fi Key
Your computer will store the security key it is using to access Wi-Fi. You can find and view the security key by using Wirelesskeyview.
Download “Wirelesskeyview" from download.com and run it on your computer.
Once you open the program it will show you any wireless key or password that is stored on your computer.
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Option 3 – Hack the Security Key
Once you have access to the router hacking the security key or password should not be necessary, but it is an option for those with time to spare and curiosity to satisfy.There are WPA and WEP hacking tools and techniques that are readily available online; you only need to do a search for “WEP key generator crack". If you are using the stronger security WPA protocol, breaking the password will be much harder and time consuming but not impossible, especially if you didn’t use a particularly strong password.
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As you can see it is quite easy to restore your Wi-Fi router to factory defaults using the reset pin on the wireless router. Once you have reset the password be sure to store it in a safe place or use a system that you can remember without compromising the strength of the password.