askST: Can I turn off my Wi-Fi router when I do not need Wi-Fi?

Reader Joyce Ng wrote in to ask for technical advice.

She said she had read that the Internet of Things means gadgets can be hacked. She asked: "Wouldn't it be safer to turn off the router when I do not need the Wi-Fi?"

But her research turned up conflicting information on whether it is okay to turn off the router as some say turning the router off would confuse the transmitter at the broadband supplier, while others say it is fine to turn off the router.

Tech writer Lester Hio clears up the confusion.

It is fine to turn off a router when no one needs to use the Wi-Fi network. It just poses an inconvenience to users who want immediate access to the Internet, as it means they have to wait a few minutes for the router to re-establish a connection with the modem and start transmitting the Wi-Fi signal.

Most modern routers remember the settings they are left on when powered off, so you will not have to set them up from scratch again.

There is a difference between turning off a router but still leaving the power cable plugged in with the main switch on, and cutting off power to the router totally, such as by turning off the main switch. Disconnecting a router from power totally may cause it to reset, which means the next time it is re-connected and turned on, it will need to be set up again.

The best way to protect a router from malicious software is not to turn it off when not in use, but to secure it with a strong password.

 

Hackers can work very quickly and they will strike when your router is turned on and unsecured, so turning it off does not mean your router is safe. Hackers usually gain access to routers by attempting to log into them using the default user name and password, which many users do not change.

Hence, using a strong password - which should ideally contain a mix of letters, numbers and symbols - will protect your router far better than turning it off and switching it back on with a default password that can be cracked easily.

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