There are times when you might want to monitor activity on your home network. This could be because you want to make sure your kids aren’t visiting inappropriate sites, or it could be to finally find out who’s freeloading on your network.
Whatever the case, it’s usually pretty simple to monitor traffic via your router. That said, the exact steps will differ from one Internet Service Provider (ISP) to another. What follows is a general guide for identifying sites people visit on your WiFi.
Step 1 – Find Your Router’s Control Panel
The first thing to do is open up a web browser and find your router’s login page. Usually, you can get to it by going to “192.168.0.1” or “192.168.1.1”, but if you’re unsure, check the documentation that came with the router or try searching online for the correct IP address.
You’ll be asked to log in. Most of the time, unless you’ve changed the credentials, you can find the default username and password on a sticker, underneath your router. It’s best to change this as soon as possible, but make sure you keep a note of the new login details.
Step 2 – Finding the Right Section
If there’s a Security or Maintenance tab, try clicking it. You’re looking for any option that includes the word “Logs”. Now, it depends upon your exact hardware whether or not the visited sites will show their web addresses or simply their IP addresses.
Some routers don’t log activity by default. In these cases, there’s no way to tell which sites were visited unless they were on a pre-configured blacklist.
If you find that only IP addresses are displayed, you can use an IP address lookup service to find the actual site visited. This could take a while, though, so it’s a good idea to install web-monitoring software if you plan to check in regularly.
Step 3 – Identifying Devices
There’s another issue: namely, you can’t always easily tell which device has visited which sites. Instead, you’ll be given the IP address of the system. On a Windows PC, you can open Command Prompt and type “ipconfig /all” to see all currently connected devices.
The interesting part is the Host name section. You might not have realized, but each PC has a name, and this is given to the router whenever it connects. This should give you a clue as to which computer was used to visit a website.
If the name doesn’t shed any light on the situation, you can find out which name a computer uses by going to the Control Panel and clicking System. Here, you’ll see a selection of system specifications with the computer’s name displayed at the bottom.
It’s usually far easier to use dedicated software to monitor internet traffic, but in a pinch, you might be able to use your router’s logs. However, if you have children, it’s a good idea to set up a list of blacklisted sites so that they can’t access them in the first place.
Now that you can check which websites were visited, read our guide about the best wireless access points. This guide will help you bring your aging hardware into the modern era.