Password Recovery for Cisco Catalyst 2900XL, 3500XL, 2950, and 3550 Series Switches

Published on
11,390 Points
2 Endorsements
Last Modified:
The worst thing when starting a new job is when the previous Network Administrator left behind no documentation. How do you get into the devices? If you've been in this situation or just accidently mistyped your password, this article will hopefully shed some light on your problem.

1. Console to the device

Console into your switch using a console cable an a program such as HyperTerminal, CRT, SecureCRT or Putty.

2. Enter recovery mode

Unplug the power cable. Then, plug the power cable back in WHILE holding the mode button located on the front panel of the switch.

Note: For 2900/3500XL and 3550 Series switches, release the mode button after the LED above port 1 turns off. For 2950 Series switches, release the mode button after the STAT LED goes out.

3. Initialize the flash


switch: flash_init

Open in new window

4. Issue the load_helper command


switch: load_helper

Open in new window

5. View the flash


switch: dir flash:

Open in new window

6. Rename the current configuration file


switch: rename flash:config.text flash:config.old

Open in new window

7. Boot the device

Type "boot" and press enter.

switch: boot

Open in new window


8. Cancel the the system setup


--- System Configuration Dialog ---
At any point you may enter a question mark '?' for help.
Use ctrl-c to abort configuration dialog at any prompt.
Default settings are in square brackets '[]'.
Continue with configuration dialog? [yes/no]: n 

Press RETURN to get started.

Open in new window

9. Enter enabled mode



Open in new window

10. Rename the configuration


Switch#rename flash:config.text system:running-config

Open in new window

11. Copy the configuration into the running-configuration


Switch#copy flash:config.text system:running-config

Open in new window

12. Change the password


Switch#configure terminal
Switch(config)#no enable secret 
Switch(config)#enable password NEWPASSWORD

Open in new window

13. Save your new password


Switch#write memory

Open in new window

1 Comment

Administrative Comment

This appears to be substantially nothing more than the information already provided by Cisco:

Do you have anything further to add that they don't cover already?

Experts-Exchange Moderator

Featured Post

Introducing Cloud Class® training courses

Tech changes fast. You can learn faster. That’s why we’re bringing professional training courses to Experts Exchange. With a subscription, you can access all the Cloud Class® courses to expand your education, prep for certifications, and get top-notch instructions.

Join & Write a Comment

Overview of OneDrive and collaboration.
Microsoft Office 365 Backup and Restore Solution by SysTools to export Office 365 mailbox to PST / EML file format on Windows OS. On Mac, tool backup O365 to PST / MBOX / MSG / EML / EMLX file formats. Not only this, restore option helps to import s…

Keep in touch with Experts Exchange

Tech news and trends delivered to your inbox every month