Need to check your router settings? Try rCon

Years of PC-related experience -- software development, support and more -- have made me the go-to guy whenever friends or family have computer problems, and for the most part that’s just fine: I enjoy the technical challenge.

There are some issues which seem to crop up over and over again, though. And figuring out exactly how to access the settings page on a router is one of the most common.

Of course if you’re the organised type then this shouldn’t really be a problem. Figure out the IP address once, bookmark it: job done.

And even if you don’t know your router’s address, it’s not that difficult to find out. You’ve probably worked through the necessary steps, yourself. Open a command prompt; enter “ipconfig /all” (less the quotes); examine each “default gateway” address in turn until you find one that isn’t blank; enter that address in your browser, and your router page will probably appear.

Try explaining this to a PC novice, though, and it can sometimes take a while. But while I was spelling out the steps in agonising detail one time, something occurred to me. This is such a mechanical procedure, wouldn’t it be very easy to write a little program to do this for them?

And so rCon (router Configuration) was born.

The program isn’t particularly intelligent. At all. Really it’s just reproducing the “ipconfig /all” method, but without any manual hassles: cycling through each network interface on your system, looking for one with a default gateway assigned, and when there’s a hit, opening that address in your default browser.

And this means rCon can run into problems occasionally. If your system has more than one gateway, for instance, rCon won’t try to do anything clever to figure out which one is your router: it’ll just open the first. If that’s wrong, tough luck.

And of course if you run the program on a PC where the gateway isn’t a router, but another computer on the network, then it’ll also fail as your browser finds there’s no configuration page to open.

For the average XP/ Vista/ Windows 7 home user setup, though, I’ve found it works just fine. There’s no interface, nothing to configure, or even install (as long as you have the .NET Framework on your PC): just download rCon, double-click it and your default browser should open at your router’s configuration page. Or the log in page, anyway.

Of course there’s then the question of which user name and password to use, but that’s another issue entirely. And not one that can be easily folded into a little .NET program. So if you can’t log in, check your router documentation or a site such as RouterPasswords for more help.

Photo Credit: nmedia/Shutterstock

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