How to Upgrade Your Router’s Firmware, Plus Reasons Why It Needs to Be Done [Guide]

Your router has its very own firmware that it runs in order to supply wireless or wired connectivity to your devices. The device is rarely used from an actual GUI but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t require software to run it. It does and like any device that runs a firmware, it too needs to be upgraded from time to time. Ideally, you should upgrade your router’s firmware whenever an update is available. An upgrade will help eliminate bugs, make your router more secure, and maybe even add a new feature or two.

Router firmware upgrades are rare. Unlike desktop or mobile operating systems, or the firmware of IoT or wearable devices, a router’s firmware doesn’t upgrade on a regular cycle. Your router manufacturer will release an update when necessary.

Upgrade Router Firmware

Upgrading the router firmware is fairly simple process but because few people know their way around the admin panel of their router, it seems like the process is more difficult than it actually is. You may need to connect to your router via an Ethernet cable so keep one handy just in case.

Determine Router Model

Router firmware updates are specific to your router’s make and model. All routers do not run the same firmware. The firmware of a Cisco router will be different from the firmware of a Netgear router. The make and model of your router is normally written on the router itself. For aesthetic benefits, some manufacturers may write this information on the bottom of the router.

If you don’t want to get up and examine the router, or the model information is ineligible, you can look it up in your admin panel (check Download Firmware Update section).

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Check For Firmware Update

Once you know what the model number of your router is, check on the router manufacturer’s website to see if a firmware update is available. The update may or may not be downloadable directly. Normally, the update is downloaded via the router’s admin panel and not as stand alone file to your desktop.

Download Firmware Update

If the updated firmware file can be downloaded, go ahead and save it to your desktop. If not, you need to access your admin panel.

You can access the admin panel for your router from your desktop using just your internet browser. You can use just about any browser that you have. The only thing you need to know is your router’s IP. To find the IP, open Command Prompt, or Terminal and run the following command.

ipconfig /all

In the information that this command returns, look for the Default Gateway entry and note down the IP address. Enter this address in your browser to access the admin panel.

Enter the username and password for your router’s admin panel.

Install Firmware Update

From this point forward, you’re going to need to dig around a bit to find the upgrade firmware section. Router admin panels don’t follow a template for their layout so the option to upgrade your router’s firmware may be inside the About section or it may be inside the Security section, or it may have its own Updates section.

Dig around for the option. It will allow you to check for an update, and download it. Some admin panels may ask you to select the firmware file. In this case, you have to select the file you downloaded to your desktop.

During the upgrade, make sure your router does not lose power. The upgrade won’t take too long but it should not be interrupted. To be extra safe, disconnect all devices from the router.

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