Resetting a Small Office or Home Network

Many home or small office networks are prone to needing reset for a number of reasons.  The equipment was purchased with price being a higher priority than quality, the power is not conditioned through battery backup, it is not kept up to date with the latest software code, or configuration wizards overlook settings a trained network professional would make.

When these small networks aren’t working it can be irritating and they seem to act up at the most unfortunate time.  However, the need to spend top dollar on enterprise quality gear is usually not a priority for this environment’s budget.  That said, saving money will offset or make tolerable the impact of down time.

Most of these small networks exist to share a broadband Internet connection with multiple devices such as computers, laptops, tablets, smart phones, TV’s for streaming services, and IoT (Internet of Things) appliances such as smart refrigerators, thermostats, and so on.

The typical configuration has a cable or DSL modem, a router with four or more switch ports, and usually a wireless access point (WAP).  These functions can be provided by separate devices or combined into a single unit.

So how does one go about resetting a small network like this, and why are these tips in the order they are in?

In this typical configuration the first step to resetting the network is to turn off power to the cable or dsl equipment, the router, the WAP, and the computers and other Internet connected devices.  If there is not a power switch it will need unplugged.  Leave them off for a minute to ensure any residual power or corrupted code in memory clears.

Next, power the devices on one by one in the order that the signal arrives from the Internet, waiting long enough from powering one device to the next to ensure the prior is booted and functioning.  Start with the cable/dsl modem, then the router, then the WAP, then the computers and Internet connected devices.  If not done in this order a device that needs settings from another “upstream” device may not get them properly and the network will still be in an undesirable state.  A router needs to get addresses and settings from a functioning cable/dsl modem, and a computer needs settings from a functioning router.

If after following the above procedure a device still does not communicate to the Internet, it could very well need unplugged, not just turned off.  A Smart TV is an example.  It likely has an option in its settings for a fast power on.  To power on fast, it is remembering settings such as its network address, gateway, and other settings necessary for connectivity.  Try unplugging the TV for a minute or two, then plug it in and power on.  This usually causes a slow power on as it is getting fresh settings.

Of course this cannot be read if your network is down!  Perhaps you’ve stumbled upon this article or someone has sent it to you.  In any case my hope is that it makes sense enough that you will remember how to reset the network the next time instead of spending too much time waiting on the telephone for tech support to talk you through the steps.