The new phonebooks are here!!

So you finally dropped a couple bucks to try out a MikroTik, probably an RB750GL, and you’re not sure where to start.  Well guess what?  Depending on how complex your setup is, you probably just have to plug it in.  Plug a cable from your ISP’s modem to port 1 and anything else into any port from 2 through 5 – just like pretty much any other off-the-shelf router.  Reboot your modem and you should be good to go.

By default, the 750GL comes with an IP address of 192.168.88.1.  You can reach the router’s GUI by going to 192.168.88.1 in a web browser.  But – highly recommended – you should really be using WinBox.  WinBox is a tiny Windows application that allows you to talk directly to the router – without a web browser or a terminal window.  You can download WinBox either from www.mikrotik.com, or straight off of the router.  When you go to 192.168.88.1, before you even have to enter your login and password, there is an icon at the bottom right for WinBox.  Clicking on it will save the program to your hard drive.

As mentioned before, WinBox is tiny, and ‘portable’.  In other words, it doesn’t get installed on your system.  You just run the exe file.  This is great for when you’re at a jobsite on a client’s computer and don’t want to have to install a program OR you don’t have admin rights (and don’t want to deal with trying to get them from the client).  Just run it.

My WinBox, with a couple jobsite logins obscured…

For your first router, simply enter 192.168.88.1 in the Connect To box.  Enter admin in the Login box and leave Password blank.  Hit Connect.  You’ll see WinBox attempt to connect to the router, log in with the credentials you provided, and load the configuration from the router.  This only takes a second or two.

I’m going in…

Once you’re “in”, you’ll be greeted with a big, scary window that will look something like this:

What have I gotten myself into?!?

This is where the fun begins.  At this point you haven’t made any changes to the default configuration, so feel free to look around at everything in here.  You CAN screw things up if you don’t know what you’re doing… but you can just do a hard Reset and bring everything right back to where you were.

One very useful trick to know about is that WinBox can connect via MAC address instead of an IP address.  Why does that matter?  Because if you totally jack things up in the router and you can’t reach it (or even if you DELETE all the IP addresses from the router) you can still access it without having to do a reset and losing any config changes you may have made.  More tips about that later.  Notice what’s different in the title bar of this screenshot versus the last one:

jim@what??

Save your configs, save yourself

A couple things to learn early on in your MikroTik experiences.

Backing up your configuration files

Get familiar with the Files menu (about halfway down the left side).  It’s where you will save your config backups, restore from previous backups, do firmware updates, and later on it’s where you will check for things like DynDNS update files.  Here’s what mine looks like right now:

To do a backup, just click Backup.  The router will save a file, tagged with with the name of the router (called the Identity, we’ll explain that later, mine is “Jim’s Mikrotik”) and the date and time.

Having a copy local to the router is great, but what if you REALLY trash your setup and can’t access it?  You’ll need a copy stored on your computer, or more preferably your computer and a few other places (USB stick, DropBox, Google Drive, etc.)

How do you get that file OFF of the router?  Ever hear of FTP?  Do you know how to set up and use an FTP client on your computer?  Well you won’t need to.  You can, but there is a much easier way.  Drag and Drop.  That’s right, highlight the file and drag it over to your desktop or a folder where you want to store your config files.  It’ll download in a few seconds and you’ll have a copy that you can restore to this router at any time.

Restoring a configuration file

Simply highlight the file in the File List that you want to restore.  Click Restore and it will ask you if you’re sure you want to restore this file and reboot.  If you do, click OK and wait.  If not, click cancel.

Safe Mode

I just learned about this one myself a few days ago.

Right there at the top left is the Safe Mode button.  If you click this, the router will remember the current setup… and if you hit a point where you make a mistake and cause an ‘ungraceful’ exit, the router will go back to how it was set up when you first clicked Safe Mode.

Also… notice the little curly arrow buttons?  Those are Undo and Redo.  Very useful.

Where do I go from here?

Now that you know how to log into the router via WinBox, and also how to backup and save your configuration files, it’s time to start playing…

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  • Springs

    Using Winbox for the first time…

    If you are plugged into the mikrotik… Connect via MAC. When you are bridging interfaces or change ip scopes… It’s easy to get disconnected. Or say you are playing with firewall rules and manage to ban your ip. Or maybe you set the ip and forgot the dhcp pool. Or… Just do what I say on this one…

    Open Winbox and click on those three dots on the right of the window. Winbox will look for any Mikrotik devices and show IP and MAC.

    Select the MAC and click connect.

    User will be admin.
    Password will be blank.

    Locate system and hit password.

    You will be asked to enter a password twice.

    Next time you connect you will need this password. You can add more users later… But this is a good starting point.