As the connecting device between you and the outside world, your router has access to a wide range of data.
This data includes configuration and connection information that allows the device to run smoothly and create personalized connections.
Accessing browsing history through the router can help you manage your connected devices and oversee the users’ activities on your network.
Does the router allow you to access history anytime you want, or does it keep the information for a limited length of time?
How Long Does A Router Store History?
Routers differ in how they store information, what they store, and how long they keep it.
Inexpensive or older routers either don’t store history at all or keep it for a short time.
Newer models can store more information for more extended periods.
However, routers generally don’t store history for a fixed amount of time.
Instead, they keep it as long as their storage has enough space.
When the device runs out of storage—which is not big—the saved history will get deleted on a FIFO (first in, first out) basis.
If your router has advanced technology, you can configure how much space it can allocate to storing information, thus keeping more data for extended periods.
That said, there’s not a single and unified way of keeping history among all router brands.
Depending on the device, it may be configured to keep the history for a limited period, such as 24 hours.
Others may have a specific count of logs, regardless of how old they are.
As a result, you should consult your router’s user manual to get a clear answer.
What Data Does A Router Store?
Routers have different technology types depending on the manufacturer and age.
Every router has internal storage to keep necessary information that helps it run smoothly, however.
This storage chip is a ROM that stores the firmware and tells the device how to act in different situations.
Unless your router has the technology, it doesn’t keep personal information like email addresses and passwords.
That said, it stores the following data:
1. Browsing History
Most routers store the websites you visit as long as they have free space.
Then, the older websites are deleted to make room for new ones.
While that’s a common trend among most routers—regardless of age and brand—they have different ways of storing and accessing the history.
Some routers can track and record your activity out of the box, while others need configurations to enable this feature.
Most home-use routers have this ability turned off by default, and you need to turn it on in the router’s web interface.
In addition, your router may not give you a detailed list of the visited websites the way your browser history does.
It may give you the IP address of the website or its URL.
Some routers don’t provide the exact URL, only giving you the SSL protocol—whether it’s a www or HTTPS website.
In addition, the browsing history of your router may not be user-friendly.
Thus, you may need to dig deeper with some routers to access your browsing history, as routers have different labels for this section.
You may find it under Logs, System Logs, or Event Logs.
Although your router shows which websites you visit—mostly by showing their IPs—it doesn’t show the content of those websites or the activities you perform on them.
That’s because most websites use the HTTPS protocol, which encrypts website content and doesn’t allow others to see it.
Unless you visit websites with the HTTP protocol, the router can’t record your activities on websites.
2. Connected Devices
As “routing” devices, routers enable each device to connect to the internet and send the device’s required traffic.
As a result, the router needs to keep a detailed log of all connected devices to know when and how to send them traffic.
Each device has a unique MAC address used by the router for identification.
It also assigns them IP addresses that can change whenever they connect to the router.
If you check the router’s System Log, there’s a list of all connected devices, indicated by their MAC and IP addresses, and the websites visited on each device.
Different routers may have varying ways of organizing this data, with some high-end models giving you the exact time and duration spent on a specific website.
4. Configuration Data
When you rent a router from your ISP, it comes pre-configured with settings tailored to your plan.
Thus, you can use it out of the box.
By contrast, you may need to configure and adjust some settings if you have your own router.
Either way, the device has to store these settings for everyday usage.
That’s the primary reason it doesn’t have enough space to keep your history for too long.
It has more essential data to store than the IP addresses of visited websites.
Those include the connected devices’ MAC addresses, routing protocols and tables, VLAN settings, DNS data, DHCP assignments, operating systems, admin credentials, users and admin logins, firewall rules, blocked ads, and other configuration data.
If you’ve tweaked some settings, the router has to store them permanently to apply them every time you connect.
For example, if you’ve set parental control settings, blocking certain websites, it keeps a list of these websites to prevent your kids from accessing them.
5. Phone Usage
If you connect to the router’s wi-fi from your smartphone, the router can record other things.
Since you can perform other tasks on your smartphone using the internet, the number of entries on the log will increase.
For example, the log can show what apps you used, when you connected to the internet, and how long you stayed on.
Also, the activity log will show if you made an internet call using your phone.
How To Clear Router History
Although a router doesn’t keep your history for too long, you can clear its log if you have security concerns.
This way, no one can access your activity history, although it’s not detailed.
Still, clearing the router’s history doesn’t mean people can’t access it via other methods.
For example, people can check your browser’s history—even incognito—to see the detailed log of your online activities.
You can delete your router’s history in different ways.
1. Factory Reset The Router
Since the router keeps data on its ROM, turning off the device doesn’t clear its history.
If you want a handy and quick way to clear your history, the factory reset is the best way.
However, since this method clears everything, including passwords and credentials, custom settings, and static IPs, it may not be as handy as it looks.
You need to set all these parameters after the reset.
Depending on the router design, you may need to factory reset the device through different buttons.
Some routers have a reset hole on the back of the device that you can locate easily.
Push a pin or needle into the hole to reset the router.
You can use the soft reset button to turn the device on and off if the router doesn’t have a reset hole.
Long-press the button for 10 to 20 seconds to return the router to its factory settings.
2. Use The Router’s Web Interface
The best method to clear your router’s browsing history is by accessing its web interface.
Although a factory reset only involves pressing a single button, you still need to access the router’s web interface to re-enter the passwords and adjust new settings.
To access your router’s web interface, type 192.168.0.1 in your internet browser and enter the username and password.
If you haven’t changed the credentials, both entries are “admin.”
If you’ve changed the password before, you’ll know what to enter.
Now, you should look for the router’s history, which, as mentioned earlier, is worded differently depending on the router.
Note. Some routers, such as Netgear, have an app that allows you to access its settings. Instead of using the web interface, you can launch the app and look for history logs.
Again, different routers involve different paths leading to history.
That said, most of them make it accessible under Advanced > system > Administration > Logs.
After accessing the logs, you may have a tedious job of sorting through the data because they’re not user-friendly.
You can clear all the history or select specific logs.
How To Disable Router History
Although most modern routers keep browsing history and other configuration data, they don’t necessarily show it in their interface.
That’s because most average users don’t need this data, and the router keeps it in its storage to operate functionally.
As a result, these logs are disabled by default in most routers.
If you’ve enabled the option, you can disable it in the same location to prevent the router from demonstrating these logs.
However, the logs are accessible through the same menu whenever you enable them.
As a result, you’ll need a more secure way to prevent the router from accessing and showing the websites you visit.
Some users suggest the incognito mode.
However, it’s not recommended since the information is accessible to your ISP and browser.
The best thing to do is only to visit websites with the HTTPS protocol and access the internet through a VPN.
These solutions encrypt your connection and prevent other parties from accessing your information.