Knowing how to update router firmware is vital for two key reasons: security and performance. Unless you’ve spent the last few years under a rock, you know wireless routers are full of security holes. Plus, new security issues pop up all the time.
There’s also internet connection speed to consider. As we place heavier loads on home wireless networks, we need a faster, more consistent internet connection. Continue reading to learn how to upgrade router firmware to keep your network fast and safe.
How to update router firmware
- Connect the router to your computer with an Ethernet cable
- Download the firmware update from the router manufacturer’s website
- Log in to your router’s web management page
- On that page, select the downloaded firmware to update your router
- Reboot your router to finish the upgrade
Specific links and steps for how to upgrade router firmware depend on your router’s brand. Popular brands like Asus, Netgear, Linksys, and D-Link have unique firmware download sites and instructions. In this article, we’ll cover the steps for your make and model.
Why upgrade router firmware?
You should update your router’s firmware for a safer, faster internet connection. No matter how up-to-date your virus protection software is, your router makes a tempting backdoor for hackers. Black-hat types can tap a weak router remotely and listen in .
That’s bad for many reasons, because you do all sorts of things online. You enter credit card numbers, type bank passwords, and shop. Unless you want to give hackers a convenient knothole to listen through, updating router firmware regularly is a good idea.
Not just for security
You may not know it, but you’re using more internet bandwidth almost every day. Desktop PCs
, tablets, phones, voice assistants, and even smart door locks and coffee makers team up to suck data through your router.
If you don’t know how to update router firmware, you may miss out on speed-enhancing tweaks that put you in the fast lane. Growing internet demands are fueling the push for 5G networks and fiber optic internet service, and routers need to keep pace with the times.
Update router firmware tips
- “Is my router firmware up to date?” There’s no instant online checker. Check your firmware status on your router’s web management page
- Don’t update your router firmware wirelessly. That’s like fixing a plane in midair. If the update fails, you crash. Connect an Ethernet cable first to stay connected
- Consider buying a router that updates itself. A few of the least vulnerable are the Asus RT-AC5300 and the Google WiFi routers
- Change your router admin password. When you first upgrade your router firmware, your username and password are probably both “admin.” Change them
- Write down your WiFi name and password. They’re different than your router admin password. They may reset when you update your router firmware
- Don’t interrupt an update. Once a router firmware update is in progress, clicking “back” or closing the window can cause issues
How to upgrade router firmware for the top 8 router brands
The steps for how to update router firmware are a little different for each brand and model. If the one-size-fits-all instructions above don’t help, scroll down for steps to upgrade the top eight brands of routers.
Here’s how to update router firmware for an Asus device in one step. The other seven steps are there in case step #1 fails.
- Try Asus’ quick & easy router firmware upgrade page at router.asus.com
- If that fails, go manual. Connect your computer and router with an Ethernet cable
- Google-search your Asus router’s model number + “download firmware” (Find your model number on the router’s back)
- Click the Asus download link
- Click BIOS & Firmware > Download
- Find the file on your computer and unzip it
- Log in to router.asus.com
- Choose Advanced Settings from the left menu, then Administration > Firmware Upgrade
- Select the firmware file you downloaded and click Open
Looking for how to upgrade router firmware for a Netgear unit? These nine steps have got your back:
- Connect your computer to your router with an Ethernet cable
- Log in to routerlogin.net
- If you’ve never done this before, your username is admin and your password is password
- Click Advanced or Settings > Administration
- Click Firmware Update or Router Update
- Select Check
- If new firmware is available, select Yes
- Wait for the firmware to download
- Wait for your router to restart
Protip: You may want to change your user name and password.
How do you update router firmware for a Linksys device? Use the first three steps below. If those fail, use steps 4 through 14.
- Log in to myrouter.local
- If you’ve never done this before, the password is admin
- From the left menu, click Connectivity > Firmware Update
- If that fails, switch to manual
- Connect your router and computer with an Ethernet cable
- Look on the back of your Linksys router for the model and version numbers
- Visit the Linksys Support Site. Type your model number in the search bar
- Click Downloads/Firmware
- Choose your version number and click Download
- Log in to myrouter.local
- Click Administration > Firmware Upgrade
- Select the firmware you just downloaded
- Click Start Upgrade
- Once the router firmware update has finished, turn your router off and on
Here’s how to update router firmware for a D-Link router:
- Use an Ethernet cable to link your router to your computer
- Locate the model number on the router’s back label
- Reset the router (this step is important)
- Visit support.dlink.com
- Type your router model number into the search bar
- Click the picture of your router
- Click the Firmware Download button (You may need to select a Firmware version first)
- Find the zip file on your computer and unzip it
- Login to dlinkrouter.local
- If you’ve never done this before, the username is Admin. Leave the password field blank
- Click Tools or Maintenance or Management and then Firmware or Upgrade
- Under Firmware Upgrade, click Browse, or click Check for New Firmware > Select File
- Find the firmware file you downloaded on your computer
- Click Upload or Open and wait for the process to finish
If you need to update the firmware for a TP-Link router, here’s how to do it in seven steps:
- Connect your computer and router with an Ethernet cable
- Find your TP-Link router’s model number. It’s on the label on the back of the unit
- Google-search your TP-Link model number plus “firmware download”
- Click the first TP-Link result and download your new firmware (note the firmware’s filename; you’ll need it soon)
- Log in to TP-Link’s web management page at tplinkwifi.net. If you’ve never set the username and password, they are admin and admin
- Click System Tools > Firmware Upgrade in the left menu
- Choose the firmware file you just downloaded
- Click Upgrade
Got a Google WiFi unit? Wondering how to update router firmware for it? We don’t have a list of steps to follow. That’s because - lucky you - Google handles all of its router firmware updates automatically in the background while you’re doing other things.
According to the device’s help documents, it checks for updates, finds them, and downloads them automatically. You don’t need to visit a website or download a file or jump through any digital hoops. You’re all set .
These eight steps show how to upgrade router firmware for a Trendnet router:
- Plug your router into your computer via Ethernet cable
- Look on the back of your Trendnet router. Find the model number
- Visit trendnet.com/support
- Select your model number
- Click Downloads > Download
- Visit Trendnet’s firmware upgrade page
- Click Choose File and select the firmware file you just downloaded from your computer
- Click Upload
Wondering “How to update my router firmware” for a Motorola device? Follow these steps:
- With an Ethernet cable, plug your router into your computer
- Find your model number on the back of your router
- Visit the Motorola Zendesk page
- Find your model number and download your firmware
- Login to http://192.168.1.1 with the password motorola
- Click Login > Advanced
- In the left menu bar, click System Management > Software Update > Select File
- Select the firmware file you just downloaded
- Click Clear current configuration
- Click Update Software > Confirm
- Wait for the router firmware update to finish
Didn’t see your router brand in the steps above for how to update router firmware? Take heart. It starts with a Google search of your model number + “firmware download.” You’ll see a manufacturer’s page in Google’s search results. Download the firmware file from there and then unzip it.
Next you’ll need to navigate to your router brand’s web management page. To find that, Google-search the brand plus “update router firmware.” You’ll see a link to the manufacturer’s router management page. Click it and then follow the instructions to find and upload the file you just downloaded.
Troubleshooting update router firmware problems
“Router firmware update failed”
That’s the worst. If you can’t update your router firmware or it freezes halfway through, don’t hit the panic button yet. There are a few things you can try:
- Attempt to update from a different device. Sometimes a firmware update fails as a result of incompatibility. Plug your Ethernet cable into another computer and retry
- Reset the router to the factory defaults. Did you brick your router? Maybe not. Press and hold the reset button on the back until it resets. Then try again
- Bypass the router. Plug your Ethernet cable into your modem (not your router) to download firmware. Do a long hold on the router reset button and try again
- Check for a “rescue mode.” Some routers have a “rescue mode” or “management mode.” Google the name of your router plus those terms to find out
Did all those steps fail? As a fallback, you can use your phone as a wireless hotspot or (ugh) buy another router as a backup. Meanwhile, Google-search your router’s brand or model number plus “update router firmware failed” to see if you can find specific steps.
“You are not connected to your router’s WiFi network”
If you receive this message, unplug your router and modem. Wait a few seconds and then plug them both back in. You can reboot your computer too. Then try to access your router’s web management page again.
Knowing how to update router firmware is simple but device-specific. Doing it wrong - like unplugging the router halfway through the update - can cause lasting damage. Doing it right usually means downloading a firmware file from the company site.
Then access your router’s web management page, log in, and point it to the new firmware file. Some newer routers update automatically and are hassle-free, but even if you need to do this yourself, it’s a straightforward and simple process.
About the Author
Tom Gerencer is a contributing writer for HP® Tech Takes. Tom is an ASJA journalist, career expert at Zety.com, and a regular contributor to Boys' Life and Scouting magazines. His work is featured in Costco Connection, FastCompany, and many more.