Basic Cisco Router Configuration Steps

This post is by no means an exhaustive tutorial about Cisco Routers and how to configure their numerous features. It is just a step-by-step guide for the most basic configuration needed to make the router operational. When you first power on a new Cisco Router, you have the option of using the “setup” utility which allows you to create a basic initial configuration. However, in this post I will show you how to do this basic setup with the Command Line Interface (CLI). Mastering the Cisco Router CLI is essential for more complex configuration tasks and it is the most important knowledge you should acquire if you want to become a Cisco network administrator.

The basic CLI modes that we will be referring below are as following:

Router>  <– User EXEC Mode
Router#  <– Privileged EXEC mode
Router(config)#  <– Global Configuration Mode
Router(config-if)# <– Interface Configuration Mode
Router(config-line)# <– Line Configuration Mode

I assume that you already have some basic knowledge of CLI and how to navigate between different configuration modes (user mode, privileged exec mode etc), so let’s get started:

Step1: Configure Access Passwords

The first step is to secure your access to the router by configuring a global secret password and also passwords for Telnet or Console as needed.

Enter into Global Configuration mode from the Privileged EXEC mode:

Router# configure terminal  <– Privileged EXEC mode
Router(config)#  <– Global Configuration Mode

In Global Configuration Mode you configure parameters that affect the whole router device. Here we will configure the Enable Secret password that you will be using from now own to enter into Privileged EXEC Mode from User EXEC Mode.

Router(config)#  enable secret “somestrongpassword”

From now on, when you log in from user EXEC mode you will be asked for a password.

It is suggested also to configure a password for the Telnet Lines (VTY lines) which will secure your access when connecting via Telnet over the network.

Router(config)#  line vty 0 4
Router(config-line)# password “strongTelnetPass” 
Router(config-line)# login

Step2: Configure a Router Hostname

To differentiate your Router from other devices in the network, you should configure a Hostname for your device.

Router(config)#  hostname My-Router

Notice that your Router prompt changes to the new hostname that you have just set.

Step3: Configure IP addresses for Router Interfaces

This is an essential step in order for your router to be able to forward packets in the network. The most basic parameter for a Router Interface is the IP address. From Global Configuration Mode you need to enter into Interface Configuration Mode:

My-Router(config)# interface serial 1/1
My-Router(config-if)# ip address
My-Router(config-if)# no shutdown
My-Router(config-if)# exit

My-Router(config)# interface fastethernet 0/1
My-Router(config-if)# ip address
My-Router(config-if)# no shutdown
My-Router(config-if)# exit

Step4: Configure Routing (Static or Dynamic)

The Router’s main purpose is to find the best route path towards a destination network and forward packets according to the best path. There are two main ways a router knows where to send packets. The administrator can assign static routes, or the router can learn routes by using a dynamic routing protocol. For simple network topologies, static routing is preferred over dynamic routing. Let’s see how to configure static routes from Global Configuration Mode.

My-Router(config)#  ip route [destination network] [subnet mask] [gateway]   

My-Router(config)#  ip route

The command above tells the router that network is reachable via gateway address

Another popular static route that we usually configure on Internet Border routers is the default static route:

My-Router(config)#  ip route

The default static route above instructs the router to send ALL packets that the router does not have a more specific route entry to gateway address (which might be the ISP gateway address).

Step5: Save your configuration

Save your current running configuration into NVRAM. This will overwrite the startup configuration.

My-Router(config)# exit
My-Router# copy running-config startup-config

You can display your current configuration to verify your settings as following:

My-Router# show running-config


  1. reet says

    i’m glad 2 get all these commands.i’m v much new to this subject.i’ll try all thses to learn working on a router.

  2. Stephen says

    I follwed it up to here and then get an error? What am I doing wrong?

    test(config)#interface serial 1/1
    % Invalid input detected at ‘^’ marker.

    test(config)# interface fastethernet 0/1
    % Invalid input detected at ‘^’ marker.

    test(config)# ip address
    % Invalid input detected at ‘^’ marker.

  3. Blog Admin says


    The configuration shown above is just an example. It was taken from a router which had serial interface etc. Your own configuration depends on the type of router you have, what interfaces are installed on the specific device etc. Do a “show run” to see the interface types you have on your own device.

  4. Yinka says

    My router is Cisco ASA 5505 ROUTER. I am having problem with it when i plugged multiple devices (e.g PCs)to the inside interface ethernet ports. One device will connect and reach the internet but others will connect and not browse. All the inside interface ports works fine when i plugged when pc to it at a time

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