If you have an old router that you no longer need, you may be tempted to sell or give it away. Fortunately, your old router is unlikely to give you any disclosure information, but it’s a good idea to reset it before sending it.
Here’s what you need to know.
Routers store very little information.
There are many different types of routers that vary in complexity and capacity. These include simple network hubs connected to external modems, routers with a shared ADSL or cable modem, and routers with built-in 4G or 5G connectivity when your home’s Internet connection is down.
Although the router is designed to deliver Internet traffic to your devices, this data does not stay on the router for long. These devices have very little storage, and their primary function is to capture data from A to Point B in the shortest possible time. Internet traffic is not stored or retrievable, and much of it is confidential anyway.
A router is designed to store only settings that you can change, including ISP login information, wireless network names and passwords, and rules you have set, such as which DNS Which server to use or which ports to open. If you sell your router without selling it, it is unlikely that any of this information will be used to end up with it.
Related: PSA: Your internet provider has more plans than you show.
Settings may contain some identifying information, such as email address and SSID (access point name) of your previous wireless network. Services like Wiggle are used to map well-known SSIDs so that a buyer can potentially find out where you live, assuming it’s unique.
Because the buyer or receiver of your old modem needs to reconfigure it to use it, do this before you send it to cover your bases.
Sell after reconfiguring your router or modem.
Your router must have a button that you can press and hold to reset it to factory settings. Some routers even print their factory default settings on the side, including the SSID and password you need to configure them.
Take the router and plug it in, and then wait a minute or two for it to start. Next, you will need to use a small, thin object such as a paper clip to hit the reset switch located somewhere on the router. The exact steps may vary depending on the brand, but here are some examples:
- Net gear: Hold down the reset button for about 77 seconds.
- Linux: Press and hold the reset button for 10-15 seconds.
- D-Link: Press and hold the reset button for 10 seconds.
- TP link.Hold down the WPS / RESET button until the SYS LED flashes quickly (more than 10 seconds).
- Cisco: When powering the router, press and hold the reset button, and then release after 10 seconds.
If you are not sure if the router has been reset, you can test yourself by connecting to it and checking the admin panel, which you did in the settings.
Older routers aren’t much better.
Routers are ten paise, ISPs often give them to new users for free. Unless you have something like an old airport express or a mesh wireless system, your old network equipment may not be worth it.
Instead of converting it to e-waste, consider using your old router as a network switch to improve Ethernet coverage in your home.