Updating the firmware on your router is like updating the BIOS on you computer. Only do this if you are experiencing problems or there is a known issue that could cause damage to the hardware(For example, the fans are not spinning fast enough to properly cool a pc). We have found that doing a hard reset and reprogramming the router should be a first before flashing the firmware as sometimes the configuration settings get corrupted. Also, this is lower risk than flashing your firmware.
The first step is to find out what your router’s IP address is. You do this by running ‘ipconfig’ as described in this article. After running ‘ipconfig’ you look for the ‘Default Gateway’s’ IP address. This is your router’s IP address.
Now open up a browser window and put in that IP address into the address bar and hit enter. Your browser will now ask you for a password. The default password for routers are:
Linksys/Cisco Username: blank password: admin
Netgear Username:admin password:password
Dlink Username:admin password:blank – Note that this not true for every Dlink device
If this does not work or your device is not in the above list, check out this list.
Now that you are in your router, (if not and you do not know the password you need to do a hard reset of your router and reconfigure it) you need to go to the correct page that offers the firmware upgrade option. This is typically under the ‘Administration’ Tab
Now hit browse and select the firmware upgrade file, available at your router’s manufacturer’s website. Then hit the upgrade button. Now do not use the computer, browse away from the page or do anything that could interrupt the upgrade process. Because of this, it is recommended that you do not do this over a wireless connection and not running off of a battery if you are using a laptop. Interrupting this will most likely ‘brick’ your router or make it irreversibly inoperable. Do note that sometimes upgrading the router’s firmware will reset all your settings, so be prepared to enter your ISP and your wireless information as well as any other information like firewall settings and port forwarding.
So, the risks of upgrading the firmware are not trivial, but they can sometimes save you the $40-$130 on a new router.
If you have any issues doing this or any questions, feel free to leave us a comment.