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I need help recovering the password for my router?

I have a small ISP In California. I recently had to let my network administrator go. Apparently he had configured a couple of my Cisco 2620 routers with the no service password-recovery commands to enable ROMMON security and changed the enable password. The standard password recovery will not work and I understand that the start-up configuration is held in EEPROM. Do you know how I can access the router?

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This is a tough one. There are only a few methods to recover a lost password, but they all involve destroying the start-up configuration.

  1. Routers that have nonvolatile RAM (NVRAM) chips can be removed and reseated. The NVRAM is implemented using battery-backed up static RAM (SRAM). Removing the SRAM erases the contents of NVRAM, which contain the no service password-recovery configuration. Be sure to use proper anti-static procedures when handling the NVRAM. Some of these routers are 3640 and 3660.
  2. Other routers, such as the 1700, 2600 and 3620, use an electrically erasable programmable read only memory (EEPROM) to hold the configuration. The EEPROM does not erase when you remove it.
  3. Another method involves reloading or booting the router with console access, and pressing CTRL-BREAK within five to ten seconds of the Cisco IOS software image decompressing, or roughly when the "Image text-base:…" part of the banner begins. You are then prompted to reset the router to factory default (erase start-up configuration).

This was first published in October 2004

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