We all know that our web browser stores a detailed list of all websites we visited using it. You can view it yourself by accessing the “History” section of that browser.
However, did you know that if you are connected to a WiFi router, it can collect and store data on all visited websites?
Let’s say three devices are connected to a WiFi network. Then you can know all sites visited by those three devices, including the date and time of access, by referring to your router history. Sounds interesting.
So how do you access the browser history?
And what type of information is stored in the WiFi history?
Well, we will answer these questions and much more in this detailed guide on how to access browsing history on your Wi-Fi router.
So without further ado, let’s get started:
The Advantages Of Tracking WiFi History
Conventionally, suppose you want to see what websites a particular user visited. In that case, you need to get access to their device, then open the correct browser they used to surf the web, and then access the browsing history.
However, if the device is connected to your router, all you need to do is access your WiFi history, and you will immediately know what websites the user visited.
You don’t need physical access to their device (phone/tablet/laptop), nor do you need to know what browser they were using.
As you can imagine, this is an excellent parental control feature that’ll help you keep tabs on your family member’s browsing activity.
Furthermore, the router will even record sites visited from browsers in Incognito Mode.
This means – even if the browsing history is deleted from the users’ device/browser, it will remain in the router history.
Wifi Router History Limitations
The Router History feature is compelling, but it is also somewhat limited in seeing and storing.
For example, the router won’t be able to access the exact details of a visited website. This means you know which websites a device visited. But you won’t know what activities happened on that website. However, this is only true for websites with HTTPS certification.
Other than this, the router cannot access files, webpages, or images accessed by a device on its WiFi network. This is because all this traffic is encrypted and cannot be spied on so quickly.
Also, if the device connects to the internet using a VPN or TOR browser, it can get even more challenging to know about their browsing activities. This is because TOR and VPN will mask the device’s IP address, making it difficult to discern which device is which and what websites they are connecting to.
Warning and Disclaimer
If the thought hasn’t occurred to you already, accessing other users’ browsing history is a matter of privacy violation.
As such, it is neither recommended nor advised that you use this feature to spy on other people’s browsing activities.
The ability to check the router history and know which devices accessed what website is a valuable feature. This will give you insight into what the different devices on your network does on the internet.
It is also a feature you can use for parental control.
However, it’s unethical and, in some cases, illegal for you to use this feature and spy on other people’s business.
This includes guests coming over and connecting to your WiFi network, as well as the browsing habits of your significant other.
Step by Step guide on How to Access Browsing History through WiFi Router
By now, you should have a clear understanding of router history, its advantages and disadvantages, and the importance of using it ethically.
So with that out of the way, let’s come down to the main question – how to check to browse history on WiFi router. Well, here’s a step-by-step guide to help you out.
Step 1: Get your IP Address [optional]
To access your WiFi router’s backend control panel, you will need to know your IP address. If you already know it, then skip to the next part.
However, if you don’t know your IP address, here’s how you can find it:
- On your Windows PC, press Windows Key + r to open the “Run” utility.
- Type “CMD” click “OK.” This will open the administrator Command Prompt.
- Type IPCONFIG /ALL into the Command Prompt. This will show you various details about your internet connection.
- Scroll down till you see the label “Default Gateway.”
- Note down the string of numbers associated with the “Default Gateway” entry. This is your IP Address.
Now that you have your IP Address move on to the next step.
Step 2: Log in to Your Router’s Backend Control Panel
Copy and paste your IP Address into your browser address bar and hit Enter.
This will take you to the login screen of your Router’s backend control panel.
Here, you will need to enter your router’s login credential to access your router settings.
Now, it’s likely that a technician and not you set up your router. As such, you might not know the username and password for accessing your router.
If that’s the case, don’t worry. Here’s how you can access your router’s control panel.
The first thing you should try is digging into your router’s documentation. There you will likely find the default username and password.
Alternatively, it might also be labeled on the bottom of your router.
If you can’t log in with the default values, then it’s likely your router has been configured before. In that case, you need to reset your router back to its default settings and log in with the default credentials.
Note: If you reset your router, remember to reconfigure your SSID and set a new Wi-Fi password.
After logging in to your router backend, you can move on to the next step. However, we do recommend changing your router’s login credentials from the default ones.
Step 3: See User’s Browser Activity
The exact placement of the options and settings will vary depending on your router’s manufacturer.
That being said, almost all routers should come with a feature called Logs. It might be immediately accessible from the front page of the router’s control panel or hidden inside other options.
Inside Logs, you will find a list of all connected devices indicated by the device’s IP address, along with their browsing activities.
As such, you will need to know the IP addresses of the devices you are investigating.
To know this, you can go to the “Attached Devices” or “DHCP Clients” option on your router’s Control Panel. Here you will find a list of all connected devices along with the IP Address and MAC Address.
Now that you know the IP Address for the device, you can cross-check what websites were visited from it.
Note: On most routers, the Logs feature is disabled by default. You need to enable it first before you can track the browsing activity of devices connected to your WiFi network.
So that brings us to the end of our quick guide on how to access browsing history through your router. As you can see, it’s a powerful feature that lets you monitor the internet activity of connected devices on your WiFi network.
That being said, you know how the saying goes–“with great power comes great responsibility.”
As such, remember not to misuse this feature and spy on unknowing users. For example, if a guest wants to connect to your Wi-Fi network, let them know that your router has an internet activity logging feature.