Do Internet Routers Store Data? If So, Can You Erase It?

By Robert David Orr / Last updated: Dec 9, 2021

Are internet routers storing data about your online activities? If so, can you erase it?

There is no direct way to access someone’s search history, even if they’re connected to your home internet router. 

Internet routers store information about your online activity. However what it stores may not necessarily be what you think it is.

This blog post explains how Internet routers store information about your web browsing habits. It also goes into detail about how you can delete this information.

Real quick: before we get too far along here, if you want to get more great ideas for your gaming room or home office and connect with other home office hackers to make your space the best join my free private Facebook group, Home Office Hacks here.

Do WiFi Routers Have Memory – What Does It Store?

Apple Airport Base Station with on-board storage

Yes – WiFi routers have on-board memory to store some basic information that are essential to its operation.

However, this isn’t like any kind of external hard drive, or network server.

It doesn’t store anything permanent and it can be erased at any time by the user.

Do Routers Store Information?

Routers store the information they need to manage the network.

This is the most basic network configuration data like information associated with the network you’re connecting to, the connected devices on your home network, and IP addresses associated with each device.

How do you find out what your router stores?

You can use a tool called Wireshark to see exactly what data is being sent and received by all devices connected to your router.

In addition, many routers come with an application for viewing their stored data.

Do WiFi Routers Store Data like Personal Information?

No, your home WiFi router does not store personal information like credit card numbers, or other personally identifiable information.

Your router keeps track of everything happening within its network.

That means it keeps track of the devices that connect to its network – all the mobile phones, tablets, computers and anything else that connects to the internet through it – as well as tasks that have been performed by the admin user, in addition to uptime and performance.

Other than that, your router isn’t saving or storing information.

Some models of routers can do more than that and log specific kinds of activity, but this is a specific feature that you’d be looking for when you purchase your router and not something that’s a default feature common to most routers.

Do Routers Store Internet History?

Your router doesn’t store any information about the websites you visit. They’re not even designed to carry that kind of storage capacity.

However….

Routers do keep logs containing IP addresses of other networks and servers that you connect to.

Routers log all the IP addresses that connect to your router.

But they don’t store everything.

Your router can store basic information such as user logins, DHCP requests and responses (which indicate which computers are connected), firewall rules (which show whether or not they’re allowed through) and the user’s IP address.

You can view what information your router stores by looking at its administration page.

By default, the browser doesn’t keep track of any sites you’ve been visiting.

That changes though, if you’re using parental controls.

If you’re using the parental controls feature to filter out certain types of websites, the history is recorded when a user is trying to visit a website that’s been blocked by the parental controls.

This is helpful to parents or other admins as a way to determine if they’re child has attempted to access a prohibited site, or an employee is attempting to waste time by visiting unauthorized websites while on the clock.

Can I Erase The Data Stored In A Router?

How do you delete a router’s configuration and any settings that may have been saved in it?

The fastest and easiest way to do this is to do a hard reset on the back of your router.

Routers are equipped with a very small inset button that will dump all the settings in the router and reset it to the factory defaults.

If you’ve ever had any trouble with your internet service, chances are highly likely that at some point the support person you spoke with asked you to do a reset on your router by depressing this button.

Even if you lose power and leave it unplugged the settings you’ve saved into your router will remain.

In order to get rid of it all you have to do the hard reset.

Can I Throw Away A Router?

While you don’t really have to worry about any personal information being stored on your old router you don’t just want to toss them in the trash when you’re replacing them.

They’re considered hazardous waste – just like motor oil or your old TV so they have to be disposed of properly.

The good news is that there are a variety of ways to dispose of them.

Most big box electronic stores like Best Buy have electronics recycling bins that you can toss old hardware into.

But before you do, just make sure you reset it back to factory defaults by depressing the reset button on the back. There’s no personal information stored in the router, so there’s nothing to worry about.

Is There A Difference Between A Router And An Access Point?

A router connects multiple devices together using a local area network , while an access point extends a network so that you can connect additional wireless devices in locations where the WiFi signal may be weak, or even nonexistent.

Access points are typically used for connecting laptops and tablets to the internet via WiFi, but they can also be used to extend a wired connection to a remote location.

Access points are usually used for home networks where you have several different devices connecting to one device.

For example, you might use an access point to extend your Wi-Fi signal throughout your house, so that everyone can connect wirelessly to the internet.

Do Access Points Save Data?

An access point does not save data, unless you configure it to do so.

It simply allows you to extend your existing network.

If you have a single router connected directly to the modem, then you won’t need an access point.

Conclusion: Do Wireless Routers Store Information?

Wireless routers store information, yes. However, your privacy isn’t going to be violated and no one is going to be snooping for your browsing history on your home network.

If you’re at a corporate facility, accessing their routers and network, then that’s completely different.

You should assume that you’re being watched in such a scenario.

However, if it’s just your home network, robust and fast though it may be, it’s not storing data or info unless you’ve bought one specifically to do so.

You’ll find that most routers come preconfigured with many useful features such as parental controls, port forwarding, and guest networking.

These features allow you to control what your children see online, limit their access to certain sites, and share your internet connection with others.

So, if you’re looking for a new router, consider getting one that comes with these features already configured if these are features you need in your home.

Next Steps

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Robert David Orr

I'm an award-winning web designer & developer, creator, an all-around digital marketing guy and, most importantly when it comes to this site, a long-time veteran of the working from home life. My work from home life spans more than 10 years, and I've experimented with just about everything you can think of when it comes to getting the most out of my home office, how to work from home without going crazy, and found solutions to the numerous challenges that those of us who work from home run into in this life.

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