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Everything you need to know about Wi-Fi logs and how to clear them

Some Wi-Fi routers store information about users, devices, and network activity. In this article, we explain how to access and delete your router history.

Everything you need to know about Wi-Fi logs and how to clear them

What are router logs, and what information do they store?

Router history logs are records stored by Wi-Fi routers. The type of information logged by routers depends on the model and the vendor.

Do routers log browsing history? No, most home routers do not store logs about their users, because they don’t have enough built-in memory to do so. They might keep some basic Wi-Fi network configuration data, but nothing remotely similar to your browser history. Your internet service provider (ISP) can log your browsing activity, and someone with access to your router could view your activity in real time, but those are not the same as logs stored on your router.

More powerful commercial routers, like those used in large offices, might be built with greater storage capacity. In these cases, routers can store data on the devices that connect to them and what IP addresses they interact with on the wider internet. Remember, deleting your browser history or using tools like incognito mode does not affect router storage — that only limits your browser history.

If you want to check what logs, if any, your router is storing, you can access your Wi-Fi router history at any time through an internet browser.

How to access router history

The steps for accessing router Wi-Fi history vary depending on whether or not your router has the capacity to log data, and what model of router you have. Your router has its own interface, and its system log might be labeled differently from other devices.

  1. Check your router’s default IP address. This can be found on the back of your router or in the paperwork that came with the device.
  2. Enter the router’s IP address in the search bar on your browser.
  3. Log in to your router’s user interface. You will probably need to input a passcode of some kind — if you don’t know yours, and if it’s not on the back of your router, contact your ISP.
  4. Navigate through your router’s admin page to find a tab or panel marked “History,” “Router history,” “System logs,” or something similar.
  5. If your router keeps logs, you should now be able to access them. If you don’t see any of these options, then your router probably doesn’t log this information.

Remember, if your router doesn’t log your browsing activity, that does not mean your online traffic isn’t being recorded. Unless you use a VPN, your ISP — or a hacker with access to your router — can still monitor what you do online.

How to read router logs

If your router stores logs, these will probably appear as lists of IP addresses. These IP addresses could then be searched online to find the domain name associated with them, revealing the sites you visited.

Router logs might also show the IP or MAC addresses of recent devices that have connected to the router’s Wi-Fi network. The IP address of a domain may be presented alongside the identifying information of the device that visited that domain, linking you to your activity.

Since almost every brand of router uses a different interface, we can’t predict exactly what your router logs will look like. Whatever form they take, however, you may wish to delete them.

How to delete your Wi-Fi router history

To delete the logs your router holds, follow these steps. Again, these may not apply exactly to your specific router settings.

  1. Check your router’s default IP address. This can be found on the back of your router or in the paperwork that came with the device.
  2. Enter the router’s IP address in the search bar on your browser.
  3. Log in to your router’s user interface. You will probably need to input a passcode of some kind — if you don’t know yours, and if it’s not on the back of your router, contact your ISP.
  4. Navigate through your router’s admin panel to find a tab or panel marked “History,” “Router history,” “System logs,” or something similar.
  5. If your router keeps logs, you should see a button near the top of the screen marked “Clear logs” or something similar.

Alternatively, you can reboot your router. A full reset should clear router history saved on the device.

How to delete Wi-Fi router history on a phone

You can delete your Wi-Fi router history on a phone just as easily as on a PC or laptop. The steps to clear a router log on your phone are the same as on any other device because in all cases, you’re just accessing the same router interface via a browser.

Is it possible to prevent routers from logging browsing history?

You can prevent routers from logging your data by using a VPN, or virtual private network. Even if your router doesn’t keep extensive Wi-Fi logs, your ISP almost certainly does. Your ISP can view all the traffic that passes through your router, regardless of whether it’s saved on the router’s hardware or not.

What does your ISP see when you’re connected to a VPN? It sees a mass of gibberish code. A VPN encrypts data for the entire journey between your device and the VPN server, positioned on the other side of your router. When your browsing activity passes through your router, it’s encrypted and your ISP won’t be able to see what IP addresses you’re connecting to.

Though you can still be tracked while using a VPN — no tool or service can make you anonymous online — a VPN will massively improve your overall privacy. Your devices will be safer and your data won’t be exposed to your ISP, hackers, and other prying eyes.

VPNs stop ISPs tracking the websites you visit and shield your device from cyber threats like man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks. Some, like NordVPN, also come with extra cybersecurity features. NordVPN includes Threat Protection, a suite of tools for desktop users that limit online tracking, block annoying ads, and protect against malware infection.

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