Got WiFi router serving you for years and accumulating dust over it, year on year?If answer is yes, then probability of you doing firmware upgrade for same in years will be very bleak. Continue reading if you are among millions other who have never done firmware upgrade, if you belong to other category, then congratulations for taking this extremely important step.
What actually is Router’s Firmware?
Each digital device needs Operating system to run all its programs and commands, Router’s Firmware is basically that operating system. Each router firmware is specifically designed to run on your specific make and model, unless its running on some open source firmware such as DD-WRT.
Usually, your router manufacturer will provide firmware updates for your specific make and model of router, via their website, or via a tool/section within the administrative console of your router (typically accessible via a web browser).
Why You Need to Upgrade Your Wireless Router’s Firmware
There are many reasons for which you should consider updating your router’s firmware, here are few of them.
Security upgrades, general fixes and performance enhancements (Read our article on KRACK vulnerability)
One thing universal in software development is occurrence of Bugs – many of which unfortunately appear only in live system’s. Hence your router manufacturer may put out a firmware update trying to fix a bug/vulnerability that was detected in version with which your router was shipped. Each manufacturer will have its own cycle of periodic releases for firmware upgrades.
Router manufacturers may also issue a firmware update to upgrade features such as outdated encryption modules or they might add entirely new security mechanisms that weren’t in previous versions of the firmware.
Development teams working at your manufacturer’s software development, always try to enhance your router’s overall performance, which is always a good thing. Not updating firmware will not allow you take advantage of any speed boosting updates which are released by your manufacturer.
How to Perform a Firmware Upgrade
Mostly process to upgrade router firmware is same for almost all manufacturers, but its always good to see any specific instructions given by your router manufacturer for your make and model.
Step 1: Login to Your Router’s Administrator Console
Most modern routers come with web browser based administration which means you basically type in the IP address of your router in order to access it’s administrative functions. This IP address is almost always a Private IP address which is usually accessed from inside your home network. This helps prevent outsiders from attempting to administer your router.
Each router manufacturer uses different default addresses so check your specific router manufacturer’s website for details on which one your router may be using. Many routers use 192.168.1.1 as this address but it does vary. You can do lookup for your router at this link : List of most common router IP address
After you enter the IP address of your router in your browser’s address bar, you will likely be prompted for the administrator name (typically “admin” or “administrator”) and the default administrator password. You can read more about how to login into administrative console at this link: Admin – How to use Admin Login
These credentials can likely be obtained from your router manufacturer’s website or they might be located on a label on the bottom or back of your router, typically located near the serial number of the router. If you don’t have these credentials, you can look for them here : Default Router User Id and Password List
Once logged in you can see something like below screen, it will show you your current Firmware version:
Step 2. Locate The Firmware Upgrade Section of the Administrator Console
Usually, there is a dedicated firmware upgrade section within the router administration site. It may be located under the Router Setup page, the “About This Router” page, or perhaps under a “Maintenance” or “Firmware Update” heading.
In below screen, we can see this option under Management section:
Step 3. Download and Install The Router Firmware (from a trusted source)
Newer routers will likely make it very easy to download and install the firmware directly from within the router administrative console.
Some routers may require that you first save the file to your computer and then select the firmware file via the administration console.
Regardless of the method, make sure you are downloading directly from the manufacturer or from another trusted source (if using open source router firmware). If possible, scan the file for malware before performing the firmware upgrade.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Don’t interrupt a firmware upgrade that is in progress or you could potentially damage (brick) your router. Try to avoid doing an upgrade during a lightning storm as firmware upgrades and power outages don’t mix well.
Here are some popular wireless router brands, click on link against each brand to check steps specific to that brand:
Cisco/Linksys: How to Upgrade Linksys Router Firmware – 192.168.1.1