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If web pages aren’t loading or video streaming keeps buffering, restarting your router and modem is one of the first things you should try as it can fix a lot of Wi-Fi or internet connection issues.

This works just like restarting your Windows computer when you run into problems. The software on your router and modem will shut down and restart in a new state. When you reboot your modem, it will reconnect to your ISP. Some routers, especially older ones, can slow down over time during operation. This is a software issue and can be restarted quickly.

Find your router and modem

Your wireless router probably has visible antennas. This is the device that hosts your Wi-Fi network. Your router connects to your modem, which is the device that communicates with your ISP.

It may not be two separate devices. Some ISPs offer combo routers and modems, so it may only take one device to reboot.

When in doubt, find your wireless router and see what it’s connected to. If it’s plugged directly into an outlet, it’s most likely a combo box. If it is connected to another device, then it is connected to the outlet, you have two devices, and the other is your modem.

Restart your router and modem

It’s a simple process and you won’t have to do anything special. During the restart, you will lose your Internet and Wi-Fi connection, but after a few minutes, everything will automatically recover.

First, turn off power to both the router and modem (or just one device if it’s combined). You should see the power connection on the back of each device.

Power and cable connections on the back of the router.
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We recommend waiting at least ten seconds before plugging them back in; wait 30 if you want to be thorough.

Waiting ensures that the capacitors in your router and modem are fully discharged and forget about any settings. This also ensures that the modem loses contact with your ISP and is forced to re-establish it. Waiting may not always be necessary, but it ensures that everything is completely shut down and ready to start over.

Connect power back to the modem. (If you have a combo device, just plug it back in.) The lights on your modem will turn on and it will boot up and reconnect to your ISP. This process may take several minutes.

You can tell if this is happening by looking at the modem’s lights — they may flash different colors or patterns when connected. There may also be an «Internet» indicator that turns green when a connection is established.

Green status lights on the modem.
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Finally, plug the router back into power. The lights will turn on — otherwise you may have to press the power switch on the router, but this rarely happens.

Your router will boot up, connect to the modem, and re-establish the Wi-Fi network. Your wireless devices will start connecting to Wi-Fi, although this may take a few minutes. You may want to wait a few more minutes before testing to see if your issue is resolved.

When you’re ready, try using your connection normally and see if everything works. If you’ve been spending some time and the lights on your modem are flashing strangely, the problem might be with your ISP.

The cables are connected to the back of the modem, which sits on a table next to the computer.
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If you find yourself rebooting your router on a regular basis to fix issues, try to automatically schedule a reboot.

Faster way to reboot your router

The above method is a longer and longer version of this process. In our experience, it’s often enough to simply unplug your modem and router, wait ten seconds, and then plug them back in. They will be loaded and automatically sorted out.

However, some routers can experience this if they connect to the network before the modem has connected to the Internet. Other devices may take more than ten seconds to clear everything.

The first method is the most secure to ensure a full reboot and proper restart on any modem and router. If you often have to restart your devices to resolve issues, try this faster method and see if it works for you. This can save you time.

Reboot vs. Reset

Note that «resetting» the router is another process. This term refers to performing a «factory reset» on your router, which erases all of your user settings and returns it to its default state. This option may be available in your router’s web interface. You may also see a «Reset» button on the router—usually a small pinhole button that requires you to press and hold a bent paperclip—which will reset the router to factory settings.

Resetting is also a useful troubleshooting step if you’re having problems, but it’s different than simply rebooting your router or modem. It’s like the difference between restarting your computer and reinstalling Windows (or «reset» as it’s called in Windows 10).

CONNECTED: Why rebooting your router fixes so many problems (and why you have to wait 10 seconds)

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