HOW TO: Recover a Password on Cisco Devices

Avis MoonsamyTechnical Consultant
Technical Expert and Passionate Nature Photographer
Edited by: Andrew Leniart
Have a Cisco router that you forgot the password or maybe you bought a used router that is locked with a password? This article will guide you through the steps on how to recover the password on your Cisco gear.

I just bought myself a used Cisco 1941 Router on eBay for my CCIE lab and when I powered it on, it already had a config on it and was locked with a password. Boy was I happy…I always love when I buy some second-hand gear and it has some config on it! I love to watch how others configure their devices. Anyway, to access the device, I had to recover the password first by doing these steps:

 1. Attach your PC to the console port of the Cisco router and use those settings:

  • 9600 baud rate
  • No parity
  • 8 data bits
  • 1 stop bit
  • No flow control

2. Use the power switch in order to turn off the router, and then turn the router back on.

3. Press Break on the terminal keyboard a couple of times after you see the message program load complete, entry point: 0x80008000, size: 0x6fdb4c in order to put the router into ROMMON.

Note: Compact and notebook keyboards often do not have a dedicated Pause/Break key. These may use the following substitutes for Break: Ctrl + Fn + F11 or Fn + B or Fn + Ctrl + B on certain Lenovo laptops and certain Dell laptops. Fn + Esc on Samsung. If that is still unsuccessful, please follow this article to Simulate a Break Sequence.

4. Type confreg 0x2142 at the rommon 1> prompt in order to boot from Flash. This step bypasses the startup configuration where the passwords are stored.

5. Type reset at the rommon 2> prompt. The router reboots but ignores the saved configuration.

6. Type no after each setup question, or press Ctrl-C in order to skip the initial setup procedure.

7. Type enable at the Router> prompt. You are in enable mode and should see the Router# prompt.

8. Type configure memory or copy startup-config running-config in order to copy the nonvolatile RAM (NVRAM) into memory.

Warning: Do not enter copy running-config startup-config or write. These commands erase your startup configuration.

9. Type show running-config.

The show running-config command shows the configuration of the router. In this configuration, the shutdown command appears under all interfaces, which indicates all interfaces are currently shut down. In addition, the passwords (enable password, enable secret, vty, and console passwords) are in either an encrypted or encrypted format. You can reuse encrypted Cisco router passwords. You must change encrypted passwords to a new password.

10. Type configure terminal. The hostname (config) # prompt appears.

11. Type enable secret in order to change the enable secret password. For example:

hostname (config)#enable secret cisco

12. e the no shutdown command on every interface that you use.

13. If you issue a show IP interface brief command, every interface that you want to use should display up.

14. Type config-register. Where configuration_register_setting is either the value you recorded in step 2 or 0x2102.

For example:

hostname(config)#config-register 0x2102

15. Press Ctrl-z or end in order to leave the configuration mode. The hostname# prompt appears.

16. Type write memory or copy running-config startup-config in order to commit the changes.

And voila, you now have access to your gear. I hope this helps you out.

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Avis MoonsamyTechnical Consultant
Technical Expert and Passionate Nature Photographer

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