How to Flash a Router [Firmware Change And Update]

Deyan Georgiev
Deyan Georgiev

Updated · Nov 11, 2022

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Your router, same as your smartphone, will only function properly if it’s up to date — and that’s where flashing comes into the picture.

 In this article, we’ll explain how to flash a router using standard and third-party firmware, and how to recover a bad flash router.

Let’s dive in.

What Is Router Firmware?

Router firmware is a piece of microcode written in a special type of memory, known as ROM (read-only-memory), and stored in your device. 

This operating system controls the router’s security and routing protocols and determines everything the router can or cannot do.

Why Would You Want to Flash a Router?

The main reasons why you would want to flash a router are improving the security and performance of the router, or getting additional features from the latest firmware updates.

Flashing is the process of installing new firmware on a router. This can be done in the form of an upgrade, which typically comes from the manufacturer, or installing an entirely new third-party firmware.

The main benefits of flashing a router are:

Improved performance: Upgrading your router can boost its performance and get better connectivity and network coverage in your home or office.

Improved security: Manufacturers constantly work on improving their devices and in today’s online world, security is at the top of the list of customers’ demands. An upgrade can provide an extra layer of security to keep your network safe and patch all the known backdoors and vulnerabilities to prevent black hat hackers.

Improved device support: The latest version of the firmware and even new firmware might come with some extra features and functionalities, such as VPN support.

How to Flash a Router

If you think it’s time for your router to get a slight makeover, here are the steps you need to follow to flash the device:

Step 1: Disconnect Your Router from the Internet

Unplug any wires from the WAN internet and LAN ethernet ports.

Disconnecting your router from the internet and your network will prevent any interference during the process.

Step 2: Connect The Router to Your Computer

Connect the router to your computer. Make sure the network cable is plugged into the LAN ethernet port of the router. 

Wi-Fi flashing is possible too, but it’s riskier.

Step 3: Enter the Router’s Interface

Open the browser on your computer and type in your router’s IP address in the search box. 

You should be able to find the IP address on the sticker on the back of the router.

Enter the username and password, which should be under the IP address on the sticker, to get access to your router’s settings.

Step 4: Create a Restore Point

Once you’re in, navigate to the Systems Tools menu and look for Backup and Restore. Click on the Backup option and select where you want to save the settings file.

This is also called a restore point – a file that stores all the information about your router.

If the flashing goes wrong, you can load the restore point into the router and restore the needed configuration. 

Step 6: Flash Your Router

To flash your router, look for Firmware Upgrade under Systems Tools and select the firmware file you’ve downloaded. Click on Upgrade and wait until the process is completed.

How to Restore Router Configuration

If you want to restore a certain configuration on your router, you’ll need the settings file that you saved before flashing the router. 

To find the file and load it on the router:

  1. Go to System Tools and select Backup and Restore.
  2. Click on Choose File and upload it.
  3. Click on Restore to restore the router’s configuration.

How to Flash a Router With DD-WRT

If your router’s manufacturer hasn’t introduced any updates, you can boost your device’s performance by installing open-source router firmware.

A popular option is DD-WRT; It’s fast, reliable, and unlocks some extra convenient features, like VPN support.

For this to work, your router needs to support the DD-WRT firmware. You can find a list of supported devices here.

If it does, you’ll need to download a DD-WRT version that’s compatible with your device. 

Note that installing an incompatible version of the firmware onto your router can brick your device.

Once you have the file, you can start by setting up your hardware:

  1. Connect your router to your PC or laptop with an Ethernet cable; Plug one end of the cable into one of the LAN ports on the back of your router and the other end into the LAN port of your computer.
  2. Turn off the Wi Fi to prevent any possible interferences that might brick your device.

Once that’s done, you can proceed to install DD-WRT on your router. Here is how to do that:

  1. Open your web browser and type in your router’s IP address in the address bar.
  2. Log into your router’s Admin page and go to the Admin section.
  3. Select Router Update and click Browse. Find the build file for the DD-WRT firmware, select it, and click Upload.
  4. Wait for the file to load and install on the device.
  5. When the installation process is completed, restart the router, and reconnect to the internet. 

If you want to make a few tweaks to your router’s settings, you can return to the admin page. 

DD-WRT Features

The DD-WRT firmware boasts a long list of useful features, some of which include:

  • VPN support: One of the main advantages of DD-WRT is that it supports VPN connections. If your current router firmware does not work with VPN, flashing the device with DD-WRT might be a good idea. 

If you’re not sure what VPN to use, here are our top picks for the 10 best VPN services for 2022.

  • Stronger WI-FI connection: DD-WRT allows users to tweak signal strength control, widen network coverage, and enjoy a faster internet connection.
  • Performance tracking: DD-WRT logs detailed information about your network performance, making it easier to locate and fix any issues with your connection.
  • Fine-tuning: DD-WRT also allows running a local DNS cache, which will help you to resolve sites and other web resources more quickly.
  • Remote home network access: If you turn your router into your own personal VPN server, you could access all of the devices on your home network remotely.

How to Recover Your Router From a Bad Flash

In some cases, flashing your router can result in a bricked device. This usually happens when installing third-party firmware or when the router loses power during the update.

How you can revert the brick mainly depends on what caused it. Typically, you should be able to fix it with a (manual) hard reset that would restore the router to factory settings. You can do this by pressing and holding the “Reset” button on your router. 

However, a hard reset is unlikely to fix the problem if you’ve installed incompatible firmware.

In that case, you can try a Tftpd reflash. 

Keep in mind that this method doesn’t work on every model and there’s no guarantee you’ll succeed. If you still want to try it, here is what you need to do:

  1. Download the Tftpd app here.
  2. Unpack archive and rename the file to specify your router’s model and hardware version.
  3. Drag the file into the folder that contains the Tftpd app.
  4. Refresh the router’s IP address. To do that, navigate to Settings and select Change Adapter Options under Network & Internet. Then, double-click on your network and select Properties for IP4.
  5. Type in the following address 192.168.1.66, or 192.168.0.66 for some older models. If neither works, try 192.168.0.86. Then, specify the subnet mask: 255.255.255.0.
  6. Select Server Interface in the Tftpd app and click on the IP address you provided in the network settings.
  7. Click on Show Dir and select the renamed firmware file you’ve placed into the folder with the Tftpd app.
  8. Press and hold the WPS/Reset button on your router. This should start the installation process. If it doesn’t turn off the router and try again.
  9. Once the upgrading process is completed, the router will reboot automatically. If it worked, you should be able to access the device settings. Open the local network settings, select Obtain an IP address automatically, and click OK.
Alternatively, if flashing a router seems too much of a hassle, you can check out some other ways to improve your Wi-Fi speed in our thorough guide.

Bottom Line 

If you’re wondering how to flash a router, there are usually two ways to do that: Upgrade your existing firmware with firmware from the manufacturer or install third-party firmware onto your router.

Flashing your router requires some technical knowledge and might brick your device, so make sure to do your research before you move forward with it.

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Deyan Georgiev

Deyan Georgiev

Deyan has been fascinated by technology his whole life. From the first Tetris game all the way to Falcon Heavy. Working for TechJury is like a dream come true, combining both his passions – writing and technology. In his free time (which is pretty scarce, thanks to his three kids), Deyan enjoys traveling and exploring new places. Always with a few chargers and a couple of gadgets in the backpack. He makes mean dizzying Island Paradise cocktails too.

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