Password recovery is commonly used by administrators and technicians. Although we usually stack our passwords in Word, Excel, or text files, you can easily forget to update them when changes occur. The bottom line is that you are outside the device, wondering what the password could be around the world. 

Access to a Cisco router requires specific permissions. Depending on the configuration of the router, you may need to log in to the router first and then enter the popular activation password to increase access to privileged mode. From there you can issue configuration commands.

This article shows you how to get full administrator access to a Cisco router password reset or recovery. However, the password recovery process may become unusable if the administrator has previously configured the router so that this process can not take place. In this case, the router warns the user, and if it continues, the entire configuration is deleted, so nothing can be restored!


1. Imagine that we have a Cisco router (in our example 2610 - this procedure is the same for all routers), and we can not access it because of a lost password. Console and VTY sessions (Telnet) request a password we do not have:

You will immediately see the prompt 'common', which indicates that we are in a 'rom monitor' mode. This is a mini-IOS that lets you perform very specific tasks to restore your router.

2. To skip our password-protected configuration, we tell the router to bypass the NVRAM configuration during startup and to reset the router:

The router will now reset and start the normal boot process. The current configuration is ignored. After the startup process, you will be prompted to enter the initial configuration dialog and answer "No":

3. In the next step, enter the 'Privileged Mode' and load the configuration of the NVRAM router. Then reset the 'enable' or 'secret' password. Although we show you how to reset both, you only need to use the "secret" password. We also reset the password of the console port:

If you use the 'login local' command, you will need to reset the user account of the password you lost ('admin' in our example).

4. Finally, we have to change the 'configuration register' so that the router will load the new configuration the next time you reboot, save our settings and restart the router:

The router now reloads and uses the new configuration that contains the newly set passwords.

When restarting the router, log in and check your configuration. If you find any interfaces in the Shutdown state, you must use the No Shutdown command to reboot them.

Do not forget to save your configuration once all changes have been completed!


We showed you how to recover lost passwords and gain control over a Cisco router. Of course, there are mechanisms that can be activated that do not allow you to perform the password recovery procedure. In this case, any attempt to restore the passwords or configuration will clear the device configuration!

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  Modified On Dec-02-2019 10:59:22 PM

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