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How to Configure a Cisco Router?

Cisco Router

Configuring a Cisco router is a fundamental skill for network administrators and IT professionals. Cisco routers are renowned for their reliability, security, and versatility, making them a popular choice for building and managing networks. Whether you’re establishing a small office network or a complex enterprise solution, comprehending how to configure a Cisco router is essential. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the process step by step, so you can effectively set up and manage your Cisco router.

Types of Cisco Router

Cisco presents a broad spectrum of routers designed to fulfill different networking conditions. These routers can be categorized based on their intended use and capabilities. Below are some common types of Cisco routers –

1.  Integrated Services Routers (ISR)

  • Integrated Services Routers are versatile routers designed for small to medium-sized companies and enterprise branch offices.
  • They offer a combination of routing, switching, security, and other services in a single platform.
  • Examples include the Cisco 4000 Series and the Cisco 1900 Series.

2.  Aggregation Services Routers (ASR)

  • Aggregation Services Routers are performance-driven routers primarily utilized by service providers and big corporations.
  • They are prepared to manage high-traffic burdens and offer advanced services such as video streaming and cloud applications.
  • Examples include the Cisco ASR 9000 Series and the Cisco ASR 1000 Series.

3.  Industrial Routers

  • Industrial routers are ruggedized routers designed for harsh environments, including manufacturing facilities, utility substations, and transportation systems.
  • They are built to withstand extreme temperatures, vibrations, and other challenging conditions.
  • Examples include the Cisco IR800 and IR1100 Series.

4.  Carrier Routing System (CRS)

  • The CRS is a high-capacity, carrier-grade router used by service providers for core network infrastructure.
  • It offers massive scalability and is suitable for handling enormous volumes of data and traffic.
  • Examples include the Cisco CRS-1 and CRS-3.

5.  Cloud Services Routers (CSR)

  • Cloud Services Routers are virtual routers designed for cloud environments. They run as virtual machines (VMs) in cloud platforms.
  • They are used to extend network connectivity between on-premises data centers and cloud conditions.
  • Cisco CSR 1000V is an example of this type.

6.  Branch Routers

  • Branch routers are designed for small branch offices and remote locations.
  • They offer basic routing and security features and are often part of a larger network managed by a central IT team.
  • Examples include the Cisco 800 Series and the Cisco 900 Series.

7.  Edge Routers

  • Edge routers are placed at the network border and are responsible for connecting an organization’s network to external networks, such as the Internet or other WANs.
  • They often include advanced security features.
  • Cisco 8000 Series Routers are an example.

8.  Virtual Routers

  • Virtual routers are software-based routers that run on virtualized hardware or cloud platforms.
  • They are suitable for software-defined networking (SDN) and virtualized network functions.
  • Examples include the Cisco Cloud Services Router (CSR) and the Cisco 1000V.

9.  Service Provider Edge Routers

  • These routers are used by service providers to connect customer networks to their core networks.
  • They often include advanced features like MPLS and Carrier Ethernet.
  • Examples include the Cisco ASR 9000 Series and the Cisco NCS Series.

10.  Security Routers

  • Some routers are designed with a primary focus on security. These routers include advanced security features to protect network traffic.
  • Cisco offers routers with integrated security features like firewall capabilities.

These are just some of the many types of Cisco routers available. The choice of router depends on the specific requirements and scale of the network, as well as the intended use, whether it’s for a small office, a data center, or a service provider’s core network.

What You’ll Need

Before tackling the configuration procedure, make sure you have the following conditions in place –

  1. Access to the Router – You need physical access to the router or remote access through a terminal emulator, SSH, or a web-based interface.
  1. Console Cable – A console cable to connect your computer to the router’s console port.
  1. Terminal Emulator Software – If you’re connecting via a console cable, you’ll need terminal emulator software like PuTTY (for Windows) or Minicom (for Linux).
  1. Router’s IP Address – Know the router’s IP address, username, and password. The default is often “admin/admin,” but it should be changed for security.
  1. Network Diagram – A network diagram outlining your network’s structure and requirements can be extremely helpful.

Steps to Configure a Cisco Router 

1.      Physical Connection

·         Connect one end of the console cable to the console port on the router and the other end to your computer’s serial port (or USB port with a serial-to-USB adapter).

·         Launch your terminal emulator software and configure it to use the appropriate serial port with the correct settings (9600 baud rate, 8 data bits, 1 stop bit, no parity, and no flow control).

·         Power on the router and ensure it is connected to your computer via the console cable.

·         The router should now display a series of boot messages in your terminal emulator. You may need to press “Enter” to see the command prompt.

2.      Accessing Configuration Mode

  • You should see a prompt resembling “RouterName>.” Type “enable” and press “Enter.” This will take you to privileged exec mode.
  • You can now access the router’s configuration mode. Type “configure terminal” or simply “conf t” and press “Enter.”

3.      Configuring the Router

Now that you’re in configuration mode, you can start configuring your Cisco router. Here are some essential configurations –

  •  Hostname
  • Passwords
  • IP Addresses
  • Routing 
  • Banner Messages 
  • Saving Configuration 

4.      Testing and Verification

After configuring the router, it’s crucial to verify that it’s functioning correctly. Test connectivity by pinging other devices on the network, check routing tables and inspect log messages for any issues.

5.      Securing Your Router

Cisco routers are often the primary targets for malicious attacks, so ensure that your router is secure:

  • Use strong passwords.
  • Implement access control lists (ACLs) to control traffic.
  • Regularly update router firmware.
  • Enable firewall features, if available.
  • Restrict physical access to the router.

6.      Documentation

Documentation is crucial for network maintenance and troubleshooting. Keep records of your configurations, network diagrams, and any changes made to the router.

7.      Ongoing Maintenance

Regularly monitor your router’s performance, apply updates and patches, and make adjustments as needed to accommodate changes in your network.


Configuring a Cisco router may seem daunting at first, but with a structured approach and practice, it becomes more manageable. By following this step-by-step guide and understanding the essential configurations, you’ll be well on your way to effectively setting up and managing your Cisco router. Remember that network configurations can vary based on specific requirements, so always refer to Cisco documentation and consult with experienced network professionals when needed. With a well-configured Cisco router, you can create a robust and reliable network to meet your organization’s needs.

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