Google makes and sells several different hardware products, including routers. If during the past 24 hours you have experienced any oddities with your Google account or your Google access points like OnHub or WiFi, the company has offered an explanation.
Google says that on February 23rd, there was an issue with its Account engine that may have impacted its Google Wifi and OnHub products. The result? This caused all of the devices to reset to the initial configuration as if the products were new out of the box.
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Aside from the annoyance that this caused as those who customized the settings now have to re-setup their environment, it is much more interesting that Google can remotely reset your router without your consent. Bug or not, this type of ‘feature’ may not sit well with those who have purchased the product expecting a high-level of privacy.
While Google does not explicitly say this in their support post, yesterday, I had to re-login to all my Google accounts on my phone and desktop which appears to be related to this issue. If you experienced this problem, know that it was not your account being compromised but an issue related to Google’s Accounts engine.
If you need to reconfigure your Google routers, you can check out the support documentation, here.
<p>Yup, my Google Wifi got reset to factory defaults. I did not, however, have any issues with my account. Weird and a bit concerning that this can happen and that our settings are not backed up and available to restore.</p>
<blockquote><em><a href="#69771">In reply to michael.dice:</a></em></blockquote><p>Seemed to be inconsistent. My Wife had issues, but I did not…at least not yet.</p>
<p>As one hit by this issue, yesterday i wished that google would have been able to remotely fix this issue and save me the hour I spent fixing this.</p><p>Now that I think about it more calmly, my reaction has morphed to be more like "where did I buy this from again?"</p>
<blockquote><em><a href="#69774">In reply to Gardner:</a></em></blockquote><p>Yeah. I might consider a refund right now too if I owned one of those. </p><p>Something that expensive shouldn't have reliability issues like that. Or is Microsoft the only ones who get harangued for that?</p>
<blockquote><em><a href="#69858">In reply to jimchamplin:</a></em></blockquote><p>Yep Google will get away with this easy. If it would have been Microsoft, there would have been an riot in the streets. :)</p>
<blockquote><em><a href="#69894">In reply to Martin Pelletier:</a></em></blockquote><p>Wow. Another blah blah if Microsoft would have …. You know that there isn't one company that fans of them don't say that. Apple people say that. Google people say that. It's a really not a good argument. A device was reset. No customer files were lost. Not a big deal. One of the possibilities on any device that auto updates. The other is it's kept up to date and if anything was able to get into it Google could reset the device and patch it unlike a dumb device that is kept up to date by the manufacturer where it gets hacked and you never know it and never do anything to fix it or maybe can't because that company doesn't do updates.</p>
<blockquote><em><a href="#70519">In reply to Nicholas Kathrein:</a></em></blockquote><p>Yeah pretty funny reading these comments from people who must have no clue how mesh networks work and that all consumer versions are managed by the manufacturer. Lose your internet connection and mesh routers go down.</p>
<blockquote><em><a href="#70760">In reply to George Rae:</a></em></blockquote><p>People want their cake and eat it too. You can't have a company administer your device for you and then say but wait a minute… You can't just do what you want when you want. Essentially all these smarter devices take the view that you'd have if your worked at a company that took care of your device. They have the ability to wipe, update, and basically push updates to make sure the device is safe. Now that design is being pushed to consumers as many of them can't really do a adequate job with security and updates of their device which can affect all of us with bot nets and such rising up from poorly maintained devices. </p>
<blockquote><a href="#69894"><em>In reply to Martin Pelletier:</em></a></blockquote><p>and Paul would be in the front :p</p>
<blockquote><em><a href="#69858">In reply to jimchamplin:</a></em></blockquote><p>This isn't a reliability issue. This is a feature that went wrong. This feature will help Google stop a bot net by resetting the devices and then being able to push the patch of that bot net or something similar. </p>
<blockquote><em><a href="#69774">In reply to Gardner:</a></em></blockquote><p>I don't see the issue. If something like that camera bot net ever was able to infect something like Google Wifi google would be able to reset it push an update and make your device safe. Seems like over reaction to me. </p>
<p>People who buy or use any product created by google should know and understand they have no expectation of privacy so this should just be an annoyance rather than a surprise.</p>
<blockquote><em><a href="#69879">In reply to James Wilson:</a></em></blockquote><p><strong style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34);">Privacy</strong><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34);"> is the ability of an individual or group to seclude themselves, or information about themselves, and thereby express themselves selectively. The boundaries and content of what is considered private differ among cultures and individuals, but share common themes.</span></p><p><br></p><p>This has nothing to do with privacy. This has to do with an auto updating system that should always keep your device up to date going wrong and resetting the device. The one thing certain people always jump to is privacy. This is automatic for some who have an issue with the way Google does business. For all that privacy that i've given away to Google it's been heaven. No issues. Better services. Lower cost. Back to the fall out shelter!</p>
<blockquote><em><a href="#70425">In reply to Nicholas Kathrein:</a></em></blockquote><p><br></p><p>I think Google make way better use of the data they collect than MS, which means at least what they know about me is put to good use. Actually, because of who they are and what they collect, Google have to be pretty transparent about what they do with it, yet MS are the opposite – they confuse, misinform and misdirect people with indirect questions and complicated terminology. What are they *really* doing with all this data they're collecting?</p>
<p>I read the title and laugh then I read the article and am like WTF! If big corps can just reset my devices like this Houston we have a problem.</p>
<p>My wife's Pixel prompted her to sign in again as well. Although we have 2 – step enabled, they way it was handled was so out of the ordinary that we were a little put off by it. Thanks for the post, Brad. Glad to know that we were not alone. </p>
<p>Makes you wonder what else they and others can do remotely.</p>
<p>I just bought a new router. Glad it's not from Google.</p>
<p> My Google account experienced the “login” issue. I have an Onhub (the original TP-Link) that I purchased in August 2015 and a WiFi that I got this past December. The Onhub did not have an issue, but I did have to reset and re-add the WiFi to my network. Annoying…</p><p>However, I do have to say that in the 18 months I’ve had the Onhub, my network has been more stable than at any time in the past 10+ years. I’ve tried a lot of routers over the years (I do look back fondly at that Linksys WRT54G). Yes, the Onhub doesn’t have a lot of configuration options which does annoy the network geek in me, but it works…well…almost all of the time. </p><p>I don’t think anyone should be surprised that Google can reset the device remotely…they push updates to it remotely.</p>
<p>Well ya know, there are some resources being wasted in the EU on nonsense privacy issues with Windows 10 that could be reallocated to look into this.</p>
<p>Google's ability to reset their routers remotely, without explicit consent from the user, makes one wonder what else they can do? </p>
<blockquote><em><a href="#70488">In reply to tbsteph:</a></em></blockquote><p>Make no mistake. Microsoft could choose to reset your phone remotely if they wanted if you have a Microsoft phone. Same with Google or Apple. Any smart device has this feature as it's vital as part of the updating system. Choose your devices by what you want. If you want control from A to Z and have no one be able to do anything then the manufacture can't make it smart. </p>
<blockquote><a href="#71975"><em>In reply to Nicholas Kathrein:</em></a></blockquote><p>I'm pretty sure it won't be legal. That's why you get those annoying prompts everywhere.</p><p><br></p><p>Apple can't update the OS on your device without your consent.</p><p><br></p><p>Google has lots of money so they will go away with this with no problem. Last time they "accessed" ip information from home wireless routers with their cars and no fine at all.</p><p><br></p><p><br></p><p><br></p><p><br></p>
<p>This, exactly this, is the reason I don't do Google in any aspect of my life.</p><p> Their business model is advertising. They are not a software or hardware company except to further extend their core business model.</p><p>I buy and use software and hardware plus related services from companies whose business model is to design, build and supply such.</p>
<blockquote><em><a href="#70550">In reply to tsay:</a></em></blockquote><p>Advertising is a means to an end. This is the only model that make it affordable for every single person who can afford a device to use Google software. If they charged for it and did no ads you just limited 90 % of the people. People don't want to pay for software anymore. Over the air TV has had this model for years. The 2nd part of this is Services such as Google's get better with with customers. More customers equals better services. There is a reason people who use Google services use them. It's not just because it's free as many people offer free service. The more Google knows of me and what I do the better it's software effects me and my life. You can decide to have no one see anything you do (if that is really possible) or you can trust companies with your data so they can use that data to enhance their software to do things before you ask for them. </p>
<blockquote><a href="#71904"><em>In reply to Nicholas Kathrein:</em></a></blockquote><p> No disrespect, but you've dotted posts all over this thread, banging a drum and coming across as a bit of a Google apologist.</p><p><br></p><p>It's a big world with complex markets incorporating multifaceted needs, both mainstream and niche.</p><p><br></p><p>A balanced diet is the recommended approach. ? </p>
<p> I was hit with this issue. I have 3 OnHub routers. 2 of them were reset back to their factory defaults. My 3rd one (running in bridge mode), was fine and did not require a reset.</p><p><br></p>
<p>Lol, Google and privacy? They thrive off data, why would anyone expect them to give their users privacy? </p>
<blockquote><em><a href="#71884">In reply to SDreamer:</a></em></blockquote><p><br></p><p>So do Microsoft, so there's a black pot and kettle somewhere here. MS are the masters of no transparency in what they do with it though. Even the EU is asking MS to actually detail what they do with the data they collect, because no-one really knows.</p>
<blockquote><a href="#72407"><em>In reply to Tony Barrett:</em></a></blockquote><p>No, they're not the same. Google (in fact all of Alphabet) makes their living by selling data they gather about their users. That's pretty much the ONLY thing they make money on. </p><p><br></p><p>Compare that to Microsoft using user data to understand which features are being used and in what way.</p><p><br></p>
<p>Where is the uproar from the tech community that Google reached into their home and reset something? Can you imagine if MS did this? Do you think the tech guys on Leo's TWiT network will laugh this one away?</p>
<blockquote><a href="#72595"><em>In reply to RonV42:</em></a></blockquote><p><br></p><p>Exactly. So Google can come into your house, Connect to its service bypassing any security / password you've set and deny you service. Just checking.</p>
<blockquote><em><a href="#73116">In reply to James Wilson:</a></em></blockquote><p>Well, Google can update router firmware. You know what? Great. What's the alternative, expecting users to manually download and update router firmware? They never do that, which is why so many people have insecure routers. Yes, they screwed up the update process. But I'd still far rather have automatic updating for the vast majority of consumers (with the option to turn it off, of course).</p>
<blockquote><a href="#73833"><em>In reply to Polycrastinator:</em></a></blockquote><p>Come on – seriously?</p><p><br></p><p>This is a techy website. I can update the firmware on my ASUS router in a few seconds – I don't need someone else doing that. Every reader here should be able to do the same.</p>
<blockquote><em><a href="#74309">In reply to James Wilson:</a></em></blockquote><p>Every reader here probably amounts to less than 1% of the router population. The big question (since I don't have one of these Google routers) is do they have an option in the settings to turn off the automatic updates? If not then that is a problem, but if so then automatic firmware updates are a good thing for the router illiterate population who will ignore any security warnings until after their router is compromised.</p>
<p>This is exactly why I have an old ubiquity setup in my home. The distributed WiFi thing was solved with self-hosted solutions 10 years ago people, and they barely any harder to manage than any of these new ones. Just find yourself a few used APs, spin up a crappy little PC (or put it on your HTPC) to host the controller, and call it a day. Nobody spys on you, you can add as many APs as you have ports for, and because it is wired you end up with much greater performance than these kinds of systems.</p>
<p>Yea, this isn't a privacy issue, in and of itself. It's a glitch in the updating/management feature. Comcast and others have the same capability on what is connected to their service. They can even reach out and reset the modem I bought and paid for at Best Buy to save myself the rental cost. I'm sure a support tech could initiate this at any time. Just unfortunate (very unfortunate) that this was so widespread. Maybe they need to provide a little more user control, like saving a settings file you could restore from. Maybe it can do that already, I don't know. My Netgear router/AP lets me save a config file. </p>
<p>Before, everybody in the world's Nest thermostat resets and loses its settings.</p><p><br></p><p>Now, everybody in the world's Google router resets and loses its settings.</p><p><br></p><p>I don't own either of these, but this does not enthuse me.</p>
<p>Ah, so that's what that login thing was all about. It only happened to two of my accounts (and not the one I use the most), but out of the blue I got these messages that said there was a change to my Google account and I needed to sign back in.</p>
<p>We already know Google reads all your emails. So why would it surprise anyone that Google tracks and can control your Google router. </p><p>Anyone who buys or uses Google products should read the fine print.</p>
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