Backup of Your Switch Configuration: Avoid Disaster

Backing up a switch configuration is an important part of network administration. It provides a way to restore the switch to a previously known good state if there are any issues. This article will provide an overview of the basic process for backing up the configuration on Cisco switches.

First, it’s important to back up the configuration regularly in case the switch fails or gets corrupted. This allows you to quickly restore the switch to its proper settings. The backup also serves as a reference in case you need to re-create specific settings.

There are a few methods for accessing and backing up the switch configuration which will be covered. The process involves accessing privileged EXEC mode, displaying the current running configuration, copying it to a backup location, and verifying the backup file.

How to back up the Switch Configuration?

1. Accessing the Switch

There are three main methods for accessing a Cisco switch for configuration:

  • SSH (Secure Shell) – Establish an encrypted SSH connection to the switch IP address. This requires the SSH service to be enabled on the switch.
  • Console Cable – Connect a console cable to the switch console port for direct access. The console port provides an out-of-band method for access.
  • Web Interface – Modern Cisco switches have a web interface that can be accessed by entering the switch IP address in a web browser. This requires the HTTP server to be enabled on the switch.

2. Entering Privileged Mode

Privileged EXEC mode, also called enable mode, provides access to view and change the switch configuration. To enter privileged mode, use the enable command while in user EXEC mode:

Switch> enable

The prompt will change from > to # to indicate you are now in privileged mode.

3. Displaying Running Configuration

To display the current running configuration on a Cisco switch, use the show running-config command:

Switch# show running-config

This will display the switch’s current configuration including all interface settings, VLAN parameters, routing settings, and more. This running configuration is loaded into memory when the switch boots up.

4. Copying Running Configuration

Use the copy running-config command to copy the running configuration to a backup location. For example:

Switch# copy running-config tftp://

This will initiate a copy of the running configuration to a TFTP server at the specified IP address and filename. Other options include copying to a USB drive connected to the switch or a local file on the switch storage.

5. Verifying Backup

To verify the switch configuration has been successfully backed up, check that the file exists at the specified location. Try displaying or opening the file to verify it contains the switch configuration.

It’s crucial to keep backups up-to-date in case there are switch configuration changes. Regularly schedule and copy backups for redundancy. Store backups in a separate, secure location for disaster recovery.

How to verify backup?

Here are a few ways to verify the switch configuration backup:

  • If you copied the backup to a TFTP server, use your computer to connect to the TFTP server and view the file. Open it in a text editor to verify it contains the switch configuration commands.
  • If you copied the backup to a USB drive, plug the USB drive into a computer and open the backup file to inspect it.
  • If you copied the running configuration to the switch’s local storage, use the show flash:filename command to display the file contents and verify the configuration:
Switch# show flash:switch-config-backup.txt
  • Use the verify option when copying the running configuration to have the switch verify the checksum of the file after the copy:
Switch# copy running-config tftp:// verify
  • Compare the timestamps of the backup file and running configuration to ensure the backup reflects the current state:
Switch# show file information flash:switch-config-backup.txt 
Switch# show running-config | include configured 

The key things to check are that the backup file exists at the specified location, contains the syntax of Cisco IOS commands, and reflects the most recent running configuration on the switch.


Backing up Cisco switch configurations provides an important restore point and configuration archive. Use SSH, console, or web access to enter privileged EXEC mode.

The show running-config the command displays the current configuration. Finally, copy running-config sends the backup file to a server, local switch storage, or external device.

Verify the backup and store it securely. Regular configuration backups are a best practice for network switch administration.

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