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Monitoring internet activity can be very useful in your home or business. But unless you work in the IT industry, you probably have a lot of questions. The first and most important, is it possible with your router? What sorts of activity can you see insights into? Do you need any other software or tools to do it?  

Well, today those questions will be answered! Be sure to read through the entire guide if you want to learn how to monitor internet traffic and activity on your router and learn other tidbits of information along the way.

Can you monitor Internet activity through a router?

Yes, you can monitor the internet activity within your network via a router so long as you have unlimited access to that router. As we’ll go over, there are a number of ways to do this, with varying degrees of available information.

However, there are a number of limitations to viewing internet activity through a router. If you want to see exactly what anyone who has ever logged into your router has opened up, this is something that isn’t possible with a run-of-the-mill router. To see different website or mobile app traffic on your network by device, you’ll need a newer router that has these capabilities installed, because older routers likely don’t have this capability.

Just a reminder that you can run into relational complications if you try to snoop on someone’s web browser history. You should always keep your employees’ or kids’ privacy in mind before doing anything. If you monitor router traffic and they find out, it could feel like you were trying to pry into their life. As such, router monitoring can cultivate a sense of distrust between you and them.

There are a few types of internet activity that you should be able to access through a router, at least relatively easily. You should see a list of the IP addresses of each device that’s connected to your router, as well as the amount of data used by each device. If you’d like to see every attempted connection made to your router from outside your network, then you can do that by looking at your firewall logs.

But if you want to do a deep dive into which websites were accessed by which device at any given time or information like that, then you likely won’t get that with a run-of-the-mill router. You’d probably need to invest in parental control family security software unless your router already has this capability.

But if your goal is to simply limit people on your network from using certain websites, you can do that. It is usually as simple as accessing your router’s settings and placing a block on any websites you like.

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How to monitor internet activity on your router?

You can easily check the router history within your network in a few different ways, depending on what you have access to and which is most convenient for you.

Router Dashboard 

Most modern routers come with a web-based dashboard that allows you to monitor connected devices and their internet activity. You just need to log in to your router’s admin interface via a web browser using the router’s IP address (typically found on the router itself or in the user manual). From there, you’ll see a dashboard where you can see any connected devices and their activity.

Third-Party Software

There are many third-party software solutions available that can monitor internet activity on your router. These applications often provide more detailed insights and analytics compared to the built-in router dashboard. Some popular options include Fing, NetWorx, GlassWire, and OpenDNS. Fing even offers a free plan, which you can use to monitor your network activity from that day.

Parental Control Features

Many routers come with built-in parental control features that allow you to monitor and manage internet activity for specific devices or users. These features often include options to block certain websites, set time limits, and view browsing history. 

Network Monitoring Tools

Advanced users may choose to set up network monitoring tools such as Wireshark or Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) to monitor internet activity on their router. These tools provide detailed packet-level information and can be used to track individual device activity. Or if you already use an ITSM provider like Atera, you should be able to monitor network traffic within the software.

Regardless of the method you choose, it’s important to consider privacy implications and obtain consent from users on your network before monitoring their internet activity, especially in a home or shared network environment.

How to access your router’s settings

In order to access your router’s history, you’ll first need to access your router’s settings. If you’re immediately feeling distressed and hopeless, don’t worry. It’s actually quite simple!

First, you’ll need to open a new tab in your favorite browser (e.g. Chrome or Safari), and type in your router’s IP address to go to your router’s settings page. To find your router’s IP address, you just need to open the Command Prompt, enter “ipconfig”, and you’ll see it under “IPv4 Address”.

Now just copy and paste that IP address into your browser to go to your router settings page.

Next, just use your login credentials to log in to the router settings page. If you don’t know what those are because your router was installed by someone else, or you’ve forgotten, don’t worry. You can check the documentation that came with your router, which should include both the username and password.

And if you already threw out those credentials (it happens to everyone, we don’t judge!) then try what is arguably the most common default router credentials:

Username: Admin or admin
Password: try either Password or 1234

If neither of these common options works for you, don’t panic. If you Google your router model, you can probably find the default credentials for your specific router model.

But if the default login credentials of your router still don’t work or someone has changed the credentials to something else you don’t know or remember, it’ll be a little bit more complicated. You’ll need to reset your router so that you can reconfigure the SSID and password.

You can also use this as an opportunity to change your router username and password to something more secure and complex, and not something someone could easily guess or heck, even Google. Changing default usernames and passwords, and not using the most common ones is maybe the first thing you’d learn in cybersecurity 101.

By now you should have been able to log into your router settings page in your browser, now we can work on actually blocking websites and/or monitoring internet activity.

How can I block websites using the router settings page?

After you’ve successfully logged into your router’s settings page, there should be a button labeled Content Filtering. From there you should see a section called Block Sites, or something similar. 

Here you should be able to enter domains, or keywords inside a domain name, that you wish to be blocked. You should see another section here giving you the option to block these domains at all times or to only schedule access within a given time period. For example, you could block facebook.com, youtube.com, and other social media sites to only be accessible from 12 pm – 1 pm, when your employees are on break.

And if you want to allow certain users to visit websites that are generally blocked, you can add them as trusted IP addresses, so that they will be able to access the websites.

Can you see what websites are visited on your WiFi router?

It is possible to see what websites have been visited on your WiFi network, but it depends on whether or not your router has this capability. Generally speaking, you can view websites that have been visited with newer routers, but not with older ones.

Using your wifi router’s settings online, you can see what IP addresses logged into your network connection and when. Some routers even provide details regarding which websites were accessed by each IP address that was connected to it.

So keep in mind that when you connect to someone else’s WiFi network, if someone is monitoring that router’s internet usage they might be able to see the websites that you visit. So on routers and network connections that are public or not even very secure, you may not want to log into sensitive websites—take that as you will!

Level up your IT game with Atera

If you’ve been put in charge of managing a network, whether you work in an IT department or are an MSP, we can help you and your team work at peak efficiency with our industry-leading RMM software. Our software has a long list of fantastic features, but one of our customer favorites is our real-time remote monitoring and alerts. They’ll help you stay on top of the devices coming in and out of your network, as well as monitor the internet activity of each of those devices. 

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