These days, there is one piece of networking equipment that has become much more common: the router. Many of them actually have the same IP (Internet Protocol) number, 192.168.1.1, and for an interesting reason.
Every website, router, and computer has an IP address. It is how computers uniquely identify themselves on a network or on the Internet. Typically, in a home network, your router assigns one to your computer. How does it make sure the IP address on your home computer is not the same as one on the Internet? There actually is a list of numbers that is reserved for private use (home, office, corporate, etc.). They are never used for a public website. While the details of how IP numbers are used is intricate, the ranges of reserved numbers are straight forward:
- 10.0.0.0 to 10.255.255.255
- 172.16.0.0 to 172.31.255.255
- 192.168.0.0 to 192.168.255.255
Notice how the last section starts with 192.168.0.0 and that looks a lot like the 192.168.1.1 router address. It may sound strange, but the 192.168.0.0 is actually used to refer to a group of computers. It is OK if that seems odd or does not seem to make sense. The important thing to recognize is that 192.168.1.1 was chosen because it is a low number in this special range. Your computer's IP number, given to it by the router, will be similar. It should be something like 192.168.1.x (x is a number between 2 & 255).
The nice thing about this convention is that you can memorize this number one for many routers. It may work for every router you ever own. It also should work with the routers of family and friends. This is useful for configuring routers and trouble shooting networks.
Using the number, 192.168.1.1, is actually an easy way to configure your router. For most modern home routers you can just type it into your browser. A configuration page should come up. What it will look like will change from manufacturer to manufacturer. Some may require a username and router password to see anything, others will at least tell you if you are connected to the Internet or not. If you cannot connect to a few different sites, you may be able to check here to see if your Internet connection is down. (Once I typed it in and nothing came up: someone unplugged the router.) Be sure to read your router's manual before changing any settings. You probably need to log-in to do any real damage, though.
Important note: If your router does not require a password to edit core settings, you have a serious security problem. Please contact your Internet Service Provider for help and instructions on how address that issue. Ghacks has a guide to secure your wireless router that you should take into consideration. It is very easy for someone to change the settings on your router if there is no password protecting in.
Do all routers use this number to identify themselves? No. Some routers will default to a different number. There is no rule or law stating that it has to be 192.168.1.1; it is just a convention. If you look on the bottom of your router, or its manual, you will usually find out what that number is. Typically it is a 192.168.x.x number, but 172.x.x.x or 10.x.x.x are possibilities too. It would be very strange for it to be something else. The IP number on your computer should still be similar to the router's number (the number before the first decimal point has to be the same). (Sometimes routers displays domain names instead, like speedport.ip which they resolve internally to the IP, meaning you can enter both the IP or domain name to load the router configuration)
Some other common numbers are 192.168.0.1 (ex. D-Link & Netgear) and 192.168.2.1 (according to 19216811.net). While 192.168.1.1 is often mentioned as a Linksys convention, it is used by other brands such as Speedtouch. If you are using a router from an Internet Service Provider, it may actually be made by Linksys. Cisco uses 192.168.1.1 for some of its routers (such as those for small business), but that is no surprise as they own Linksys. Here is a list of some more examples.
One of the easiest ways to find out the IP address of your router is to open a command prompt (by pressing Ctrl-R, typing cmd and then the enter key) and enter the command ipconfig in it. Locate the Default Gateway entry, which in most cases is your router's IP address.