Password Recovery Steps for Cisco Catalyst Switches

By Tuan Nguyen | 2 Min Read | Technical Level: Intermediate

Ever turn on a switch or perform a reload just to find out that you’ve accidentally been locked out of your networking device?  Here is an easy way to physically perform a password recovery on a Cisco Catalyst Switch.


Step 1: Connect your PC or terminal into the switch console port with the blue console cable.

Cisco Switch Password Recovery Cable

Step 2: Open up a Hyperterminal for emulation and set the speed to 9600 baud.



Step 3: Unplug the power cable to the switch.

Step 4: Press and hold the MODE button on the front of the switch and plug the power cable back into the switch at the same. After the power cable has been plugged in, wait a couple of seconds and then release the MODE button.

Mode Button

Step 5: Your display on your HyperTerminal should look like this… switch:

Step 6: Enter these commands into the switch

  • switch: flash _init
  • switch: load_helper
  • switch: dir flash:

Directory of flash:

  • 13 drwx   192 Mar 01 1993 22:30:48 c2960-mz-124-0.0.53
  • 11 -rwx   5825 Mar 01 1993 22:31:59 config.text
  • 18 -rwx   720 Mar 01 1993 02:21:30 vlan.da
  • switch: rename flash:config.text flash:config.text.old
  • switch: boot

Step 7: Once the switch reboots, answer NO to “Would you like to enter system configuration dialog? [Yes/No]:

Step 8: Get into the privilege prompt.

  • Switch>enable
  • Switch#rename flash:config.text.old flash:config.text
  • Switch#copy flash:config.text system:running-config
  • Source filename [config.text]?
  • Destination filename [running-config]?
  • Press Enter to copy

Step 9: Get into global configuration

  • Switch#conf t
  • Switch (config)#enable secret password
  • Enter the password you would like

Step 10: Return to Privilege mode and save your config

  • Switch (config)#exit
  • Switch#copy run start


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