How to Configure a Cisco Router

by Alan Hughes
Cisco routers connect networks, and are moderately easy to configure.

Cisco routers connect networks, and are moderately easy to configure.

Network routers are devices that connect networks to each other, such as connecting a business network with the largest set of networks, the Internet. Cisco has been a major player in the networking equipment market for many years. The company's routers have a reputation for performing reliably and being relatively easy to configure and manage. Used Cisco routers are often available at reasonable prices, making them attractive options for smaller organizations. In any case, configuring a router for the first time can be an adventure.

Connect Your Router to Your Network

Attach the router to your computer using the blue serial cable that came with the router. Attach the RJ45 (jack) end to the router's console port, and the DB9 (serial) end to your computer's serial port. The jack looks like a large telephone jack, and the serial end consists of a 9-pin D-shell connector. Ensure that both ends are securely connected.

Establish a Terminal Session

Power up your computer and run a terminal emulator such as PuTTY or HyperTerminal. Set the terminal emulator session settings to 9600 baud, 8 data bits, 1 stop bit, and no parity. Plug in the router to a power source to boot the device. As the router boots, you should see Cisco boot messages rolling down the terminal emulator screen. If you do not see the boot process messages, check your terminal emulator settings and start a new session. Press "Return" when you see the message instructing you to do so to get started. Answer "Yes" to enter the initial configuration dialog, and "Yes" to enter basic management setup. This will begin the actual configuration process.

Set the Hostname and Passwords

At the hostname prompt, enter a hostname that you will use to identify the router. Choose and enter an enable secret at the prompt and press “Enter,” then choose and enter an enable password at the next prompt and press “Enter.” At the next prompt, choose and enter a terminal password and press “Enter.” At the SNMP prompt, type "yes" and press “Enter” to enable Simple Network Management Protocol. Next, enter a community string for SNMP to use for network management and press “Enter.” Be sure to write down all the passwords for future reference.

Configure an Interface

After you set the community string, select the Fast Ethernet interface that you want to configure. Enter the text exactly as you see it in the list, and press “Enter.” Accept all the defaults until you get to the prompt for an IP address. The IP address and subnet mask are typically set by the network administrator, so you may have to acquire these before proceeding. After you enter the information, the router will display current configuration information and ask if you want to save the setup data to non-volatile RAM, or exit without saving. Choose the option to save and exit.

Save and Reload the New Configuration

After the router saves and loads the new configuration, press “Enter” when prompted to return the router to its command prompt. Supply any further configuration information as required. When all configuration information has been entered, you should be able to connect the device to your network and enjoy the excellent performance of a Cisco router.

About the Author

Alan Hughes has more than 30 years of experience in IT including mainframes, programming, client/server, networks, project management, security, disaster recovery, information systems and hardware. He holds a master's degree in applied computer science and several certifications. He currently teaches information technology at the university level.

Photo Credits

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