Hardware

What do the coloured lights on my BT Home Hub mean?

BT Home Hub
No emergency: this is one time you want to see blue lights

If you’re even asking this question, it almost certainly means something’s gone wrong with your BT Home Hub. The connection’s dropped, websites aren’t loading, the kids are threatening to ring Childline because they can’t get on WhatsApp.

The lights that glow above the silver strip on the bottom of the BT Home Hub 4 and BT Home Hub 5 do give you a clue as to what’s gone wrong, so what does that rainbow of different colours indicate?

Blue light

Everything is hunky dory and the Hub is working fine. If you can’t get an internet connection on your phone, laptop etc that almost certainly means something’s gone wrong on the device itself. Try restarting or flicking the device in and out of Plane Mode to see if that cures the problem.

Green light

This is the light you’ll see when you first switch your Hub on, and indicates that the device is starting up. You shouldn’t see this light very often. It’s best practice to leave your router on round the clock. If you turn it off at night, it’s possible BT’s systems will think you’ve got a connection problem and lower the speed of your line to make it more stable.

Orange light  

This, BT’s official advice rather unhelpfully states “shows that there’s a problem somewhere”. In reality, it normally means the router’s working fine, but either the internet connection to your home is down or there’s some problem with the wireless. You should also check for other lights on the BT Home Hub’s display.

If you see an orange b, it means you’re connected, but your broadband account hasn’t been set up yet. If you see a red b, you’ve tried to log in with the wrong username or password; and if you see a flashing red b, something gone wrong with your broadband line and you’re about to spend at least the next half hour on the phone to BT’s Indian call centre.

If you see an orange wireless symbol, it means the router’s wireless radios have been switched off in the router’s settings. If you’ve done this accidentally, you’ll need to connect to the router with an Ethernet cable and type 192.168.1.254 into a web browser to access the router’s settings, then switch the wireless back on.

If there’s a flashing orange wireless symbol, your Hub is trying to connect to a new device using the WPS system. If that’s not working, enter the Hub’s password into the device’s settings manually. The Hub’s password is normally printed on a plastic card on the back of the device.

Red light

This normally means you’re in a world of a pain. The broadband’s down and the router’s given up trying to fix it.

The first thing to do is restart the router, either with the button on the top or by unplugging it from the wall. This can occasionally get you out of a bind.

The nuclear option is to reset the Hub by poking the end of a paperclip into the reset button on the back for a few seconds, but this will reset the router to the state it left the factory. If you’ve changed the network name or the password, none of your devices will connect when the router restarts and you’ll have to delve into the settings and change them back. If a reset doesn’t work, make yourself a cup of tea, call the BT helpline and pray to the engineer gods that they’ve got one available before a fortnight on Tuesday.

 

About the author

Barry Collins

Barry has scribbled about tech for almost 20 years for The Sunday Times, PC Pro, WebUser, Which? and many others. He was once Deputy Editor of Mail Online and remains in therapy to this day.

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