If you are having issues with your router, one quick fix can be to update the router’s firmware. Updating the firmware can potentially solve problems with your router, as well as improve the way your device works.
The problem is, that while your phone and computer likely update automatically, your router will generally not update unless you specifically configure it to do so. While this means you will never be without wifi due to unsuspected updates, it also means that your router could be running at below optimum for no reason!
Please read on to find out how to update the firmware on your router, as well as a little about what exactly your firmware is.
What Is Router Firmware?
Router firmware is quite simply the software that allows your router to work. You can think of it as kind of like the operating system of your router. Just like your phone uses Android, your computer Windows and your iPad iOS, your router has its own operating system that helps it to run.
Each brand of router will have its own firmware that is specifically designed for the router in question. The specific version of the firmware will depend on your router, as well as when you bought the product.
Firmware has a load of uses. As well as keeping your router running, it is through the firmware that you will be able to do things such as adjust your network settings, your network security and set up any features that your router has.
Why Should You Consider Upgrading Your Firmware
There are a number of reasons that you may consider upgrading your router’s firmware. If your current router has any performance issues, this could be caused by issues in the existing firmware.
If a router manufacturer finds any issues in the firmware, they will usually release an updated firmware and make it available on their website. Some routers are set to automatically load new updates automatically, to solve the problem. However, in most cases, you may have to manually update the firmware to remove the issue.
As well as solving router problems, new versions of firmware can increase the performance of your router. Newer versions of firmware are often more efficient and as such can improve the performance of your device, even if there is nothing, in particular, wrong with it.
Think about when Apple releases a new version of their operating system. They often include new features that improve upon the old operating system and allow the device to work better. In the same way, installing a new firmware can improve the performance of your router, and give you new useful settings to play with.
Finally, an update to your router’s firmware can improve your router’s security. If a router’s manufacturer makes any improvements to the security of their routers, the improvements will likely be included in any firmware updates.
Open Source Firmware
While any router you buy will be shipped with the normal 'stock' firmware, there is also open source firmware available that you may be able to install on your router if your router supports that particular firmware.
The 3 main platforms are:
There are others, but these are the main three.
Basically, you can flash your router with one of these open source firmwares and give your router more options to play with.
This can include advanced Quality of Service settings, advanced Access Control and the ability to install VPN clients - giving you the ability to secure your traffic more and stream movies and TV that would otherwise be unavailable due to your geographic location.
We wrote more on open source firmware here.
Steps On How To Upgrade Your Router’s Firmware
Of course, the exact steps you need to take will depend on the make and model of router that you own. This is a general guide that follows the common steps you may have to take to update your router’s firmware.
Log In To Your Router
The first step to updating your router’s firmware is to log in to your router. To do this, you will need to open a web page and enter your router’s IP address. If you haven’t already changed your router’s IP address it will be written in the manual.
If you don’t know your router’s IP address and you have lost your manual, don’t worry, you can still find the IP address from your PC/laptop.
Simply open a command prompt and type the command ‘ipconfig’ into the window.
From here you’ll see a list of your computer’s network connections. Simply find the connection that is related to the router you want to find the IP address of, and your router’s IP address should be listed (beside 'Default Gateway').
Find Out If There Is A Newer Version Of Firmware Available
The next step is to find out which version of router firmware your router is currently using. Usually, the version you are using will be displayed somewhere on your router’s homepage, the one you are led to directly after logging on (or in the 'Router Upgrade' section).
You now have two options about where to go next. The first will be to go to your router manufacturer’s website and find out if there is a newer version of firmware for you to download.
Alternatively, many newer routers will allow you to perform a check from your router’s administration console. Simply find the page for router firmware and click the button for something similar to “Firmware Update”.
Or you may have an app for your router, like the Netgear GENIE app for example, that also works well.
Download And Install The New Firmware
If there is a newer version of firmware available, the next step will be to download and install the firmware. As with the above step, many newer routers will allow you to simply perform the download and install from inside the router’s administration console.
If this is the case, simply follow the instructions from your router to download and install the firmware. It is often recommended to make the download using an Ethernet connection and you should also ensure that your router does not get turned off (or lose power) during the installation process.
If this is not the case, you may need to download the firmware directly from your manufacturer’s website, save the file on your computer, and then install the new firmware via your router’s administration console.
It is important that you download directly the manufacturer’s website as a third party site could put malware in the download which could compromise your entire network.
To further reduce the risk of malware you can also use an antivirus program to scan the download before uploading to your router.
Upgrading Firmware - Netgear Style!
Hopefully, you have found our guide to updating your router’s firmware useful! If so, please share on your favorite social network and leave a comment below.