How to Telnet Into a Router


Telnet is a remote access protocol that allows users to connect to other devices and access a command-line interface (CLI). When it comes to routers, Telnet enables accessing the router’s interface directly in order to configure settings, troubleshoot connectivity issues, and perform administrative tasks.

The main use of telnet to router is that it provides a way to access your router’s settings and troubleshoot problems through the CLI instead of a web-based interface. Anything you can do through the router admin panel, you can also do via the CLI using Telnet.

However, Telnet communication is unencrypted and sends information including passwords in plain text. This means that anyone snooping on your traffic can easily intercept credentials and sensitive information. So while Telnet remains a useful network tool for advanced users, extra security precautions need to be implemented.

Before You Begin:

Before attempting to telnet into a router, you’ll need to gather some key pieces of information:

  • Router IP Address: This address allows you to connect to your router specifically. Check your router’s manual for the default IP address (usually,, etc.) or log into your router’s web-based dashboard to find this information.
  • Username & Password: Consult your router documentation or manufacturer website for the default login credentials. Note that some routers do not have a username by default, only a password.
  • Telnet Client (Optional): Most modern operating systems have a Telnet client built-in that you can access through your computer’s command line. However, you may want to download a third party client for added functionality.

Connecting to Your Router via Telnet

The basic process of accessing your router’s CLI is similar across devices and operating systems. Here are the general steps to connect with Telnet:

Using the Command Prompt (Windows):

Windows computers have Telnet capabilities baked into the Command Prompt application:

  1. Open Command Prompt: Click Start, search for “cmd”, and click enter after selecting Command Prompt.
  2. Enter the Telnet command: Type telnet using your unique router IP address.
  3. Enter your credentials: When prompted, enter the router admin username and password (if applicable).

Using the Terminal (Mac and Linux):

Mac and Linux users can access Telnet through the Terminal app:

  1. Open Terminal: Find Terminal under Utilities or Applications.
  2. Enter the Telnet command: Type telnet using your unique router IP address.
  3. Enter your credentials: When prompted, enter the router admin username and password (if applicable).

Once connected via Telnet, you’ll be greeted with a router CLI filled with information and awaiting your commands. Next we’ll go over some basics of navigating the interface.

Navigating the Router’s CLI

The router command line will vary slightly between manufacturers and models but share common conventions. Here are some examples of useful commands:

  • show ip config: Displays router’s network configuration information like WAN/LAN IP addresses.
  • ping [host]: Sends test packets to determine connectivity with network hosts.
  • help: Lists available CLI commands for that router’s OS.

Keep an eye out for intuitive command names like “show firewall” or “show wireless settings” that give you information about specific router functions. The output for most commands will contain useful data but can be overwhelming at first. Refer to your router’s technical manual for specifics on deciphering all the numbers and characters.

Advanced Topics (Optional)

Beyond viewing settings and diagnostics data, the router CLI can be used to control configuration changes directly. Caution is advised when altering critical networking parameters, but here is a brief overview:

  • Change router password: Use commands like “manage passwd admin [newpassword]” to update your router admin credentials for improved security.
  • Adjust DHCP settings: The “manage dhcp” commands can configure IP address assignments for devices on your local network.
  • Port forwarding rules: Forward specific traffic to a local server or device using “manage portforwarding add” commands.

We strongly recommending changing the telnet router default password when accessing your router for the first time via Telnet. Leaving the credentials as default makes your network much more vulnerable to intrusions.

Troubleshooting Common Issues

Like any remote connectivity software, you might run into problems getting Telnet working properly. Try these troubleshooting tips:

  • Connection errors: Verify the router IP address was entered correctly and that the router allows Telnet connections by default. Some may have the feature disabled.
  • Invalid credentials: Double check the admin username and password combination against your router documentation. Reset or recover admin credentials if unable to resolve.


When used properly, Telnet grants useful low-level access to tweak, diagnose, and monitor your home or office router. The command line is powerful but complex – unlocking the inner workings of IP networking and inter-device communications.

However, this power comes with substantial risk. Telnet should always be used with caution and extra security measures in place due to its unencrypted nature. When in doubt, opt for safer methods of router configuration through the web admin panel or an application.

Hopefully this beginner’s guide has shown you how telnet into router and demystified some CLI basics. Don’t be afraid to dig deeper into your router’s technical manual for next-level network management!

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Telnet still safe to use?

Telnet does carry inherent security risks because credentials and traffic are transmitted in plain, unencrypted text. Using strong router admin passwords and avoiding sensitive data transfers can mitigate issues. For improved safety, utilize SSH or a VPN instead.

What are the alternatives to Telnet?

Web admin panels, mobile apps, SSH, and SNMP monitoring are more modern router access methods focused on security. Manufacturers may also have custom software for interfacing with their networking gear.

What happens if I forget my router’s username and password?

Consult your router’s documentation for factory reset procedures. Usually this involves holding down a reset button on the device hardware which will restore the admin creds back to default values.

Can I damage my router by using Telnet?

You are unlikely to damage hardware if sticking to monitoring commands and minor configuration changes. Be very careful when altering advanced network settings that could interrupt connectivity.

What resources can I use to learn more about router commands?

Each router’s CLI will have custom help docs specific to the underlying OS. Cisco routers for example have extensive manuals and large communities with advice for mastering IOS command lines.