A few weeks ago on Yahoo Answers I saw a question on what to do if you lost your WiFi password?
After answering the question, I gave it more thought and had a few more ideas. I then decided to write a more detailed answer here.
This post will answer the initial question and provide a few workarounds and tips if you lose your WiFi password.
A WiFi router has a few different passwords:
- Login credentials to access the router – username and password
- WiFi login – SSID and password
The SSID (Service Set Identifier) is the name you see when you are accessing WiFi networks. Here's a screenshot of the WiFi networks I saw when I was recently working at Starbucks.
How to find your WiFi password:
- Check if anyone else that uses your WiFi network has the password
- Check the WiFi router case, it may have the SSID and password written on the cover or label
- Check the router quick start guide and user documentation, it should list the default password
- If WiFi is part of your cable modem, your cable provider may be able to provide assistance
- Login to your router and retrieve the password or reset it, more details below
- Do a factory reset and reconfigure the router, note all router settings will be lost if you do this
How to login to your WiFi router to check or reset WiFi SSID password
If you have access to the WiFi router you can login and get the password. You can also login and change your password to something new. Remember, if you change the password then everyone else that uses the router will also need to change it.
You can usually login to your router by following these steps:
- Connect an Ethernet cable between your laptop and WiFi router
- Restart your computer
- Open a web browser and enter the following IP address: 192.168.1.1 (this is a standard router IP address)
- If you don't see the login screen someone may have change the router IP address
- Or the manufacture may use a different default IP address
- If you can't login to your router, you may have to do a factory reset, more details below
- Once you are logged in, click on the Wireless tab
- Click on the Wireless Security tab
- The password or pre-shared key should be displayed
- You may have to click a button titled show key or show password
- You can also change the WiFi password on this screen
Please note, steps 4 to 7 are for my router and the steps for your router may be different. If these steps don't work, a good idea to consult the user guide for your WiFi router.
How to do a factory reset on your WiFi router
If you changed the WiFi password and you can't remember it, a factory reset will restore the original settings in the router. This will also erase any other settings in the router. So think about this before you do a factory reset.
If you have an older router, the SSID will probably be the name of the router and there will be no password. This isn't a very good security mechanism and newer routers have a unique SSID and preset password. This is usually written on a label on the outside of the router or in the user guide.
Don't do a factory reset unless you know the default user name and password of the router. The default credentials will be in your documentation. If you no longer have the printed guide or CD check the manufacturer's site. The usual router default settings are username = admin, password = admin.
Once you can login, you can setup configure the SSID and password. I'm not going to go into the security aspects, but it's a good idea to change the SSID and password from the default.
A few more workarounds to connect to your WiFi network and get online:
- If your laptop and WiFi router have an Ethernet port, you can connect them with an Ethernet cable
- If you have a small Ethernet hub you can remove the WiFi router and use the Ethernet hub to connect to your laptop – note, if other people are using the WiFi network you can plug the WiFi router into the Ethernet hub if there is a port available
This is one difference when working from home or telecommuting. You don't have an IT team to bail you out. You have to be the IT guy.
It's a very good idea to make a strong password that can't be hacked. This is not only a good idea for your WiFi passwords, but all of your passwords. Of course the problem with a strong password is that it's hard to remember. Here's a good article by Microsoft on how to create good passwords, click here to read the article.
Once you have the WiFi password make sure you write it down and store it where it's secret and safe.