A second life for your router in 8 steps

If you still have an old wireless router lying around, you can still do fun things with it. You can use it as an extra wireless access point for better range or a switch to connect more equipment. In this article you can read everything about useful applications for your old router.

When we talk about a router, we mean a wireless router: the box that links your equipment into a network with a built-in WiFi access point. By connecting the router to your modem, your network will have access to the internet. If you replace your router with a better one (or get a better (modem) router from your internet provider), you have one router left and you can reuse it. Before we get started, let's briefly cover some of the basic functions of a typical router.

01 What does your router do?

There are two types of network ports on your router: WAN and LAN. The WAN connection is intended for the Internet connection via your modem and is therefore sometimes referred to as the Internet. This connection usually expires if you use the old router as a second router in your network. The LAN connections are used to connect your network equipment, such as your computers, TV, NAS and network printer.

A router also ensures that all devices in your network are provided with IP information via the DHCP server. We explicitly name the DHCP server because this part can cause strange interference if you add a second router to your network. More on this later. Some routers also have a USB port to share a printer. Finally, there is the wireless function of your router. This allows you to connect devices to your home network and internet connection via WiFi. Depending on what you want to use the old router for, you can disable or change the Wi-Fi signal. This prevents unnecessary interference on the main WiFi network of your new (modem) router.

02 Management module

All settings of your router can be managed via your browser, for example via the address //192.168.1.1. The IP address differs per router brand/type and can also be changed manually. To be able to manage your router, you need to know how to log in to the management module. The easiest way to access your router is to follow the manufacturer's manual. Search for this (possibly via Google) and read the instruction.

Reset your old router according to the prescribed procedure, so you can make a fresh start. Usually you use a hidden pin that you can press with a pen or paperclip. A reset returns all settings to the factory defaults. The management module is accessible via the default password. If you are going to change settings, take the trouble to wire the router to your computer. Connect a standard network cable between a LAN port on the router and the network connection of your computer. You can also make most adjustments wirelessly, but this is a lot more error-prone.

03 Firmware

A router has an operating system: the firmware. It is always recommended to install the most recent firmware version from your router manufacturer first. The current firmware version of your router is usually displayed prominently in the management module of your router. Also check the sticker of your router which type, model and version number/revision you have. With this information you can download a firmware file from the manufacturer's website, on that website you can also read how to install the firmware on your router.

IP settings

If you connect your computer to a LAN port on your router (or connect it wirelessly), you will be assigned various IP data via the DHCP server. By requesting this information, you can find out the address of the management module of your router. Give the command via Windows key + R cmd.exe and then the command ipconfig.exe. Your computer's IP address is behind IPv4 Address (for example 192.168.1.126). The address of your router's management module is usually the same as the IP address behind Default gateway (for example 192.168.1.1).

04 Switch

One of the simplest uses for your old router is to relegate it to a 'dumb switch'. This allows you to use the LAN ports of your old router to connect more network devices to your network. This is the most basic function, but no less useful. For example, if you once only pulled one network cable to your TV, you can now wired your DVD player, game console, Raspberry Pi and other peripherals with a switch.

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