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Network switch configuration top tips and practices

Changing your network switch configuration can be challenging. While you may be tempted to keep your default settings, they are rarely the best choice for supporting network connectivity, and they tend to be insecure. Adjusting your IT settings is crucial for securing and optimizing your network, whether in a larger or smaller business.

In this article, we have highlighted the best practices to help you configure your switch settings. But first, let’s find out what a switch is and the advantages of switch configuration.

What is a network switch?

A network switch is used to connect different devices on the same network. For example, you can use LAN (Local Area Network) switches to control and direct data flow at the access layer level to networked resources.

It’s essential to configure your switch because Wi-Fi technology keeps advancing every year, which means your old switch may no longer support your current internet needs. 

However, this doesn’t mean it’s worthless, the Ethernet networking element remains useful and can be used as a network switch. Switches are essential when you want to share Ethernet cables between different devices. 

What are the benefits of network switch configuration?

One of the advantages of switch configuration is that you can boost security in different ways. For instance, changing your default password to something more unique and secure can prevent hackers from accessing your switch settings. 

You can also change the SSID (Service Set Identifier) to make it difficult for cybercriminals to attack your network. Configuring your network switch settings to hide your local IP address is also another option. This protects your identity online, making tracing your activity harder. 

You can also configure settings to allow multi-guest Wi-Fi and SSID. The benefit of this is that you won’t have to share your Wi-Fi password with strangers, minimizing the risking of network overloading or abuse. Configuring settings can also let you know who’s connected. 

This can be helpful because unauthorized people stealing your bandwidth can lead to fluctuating or low internet speeds. Certain switches also allow you to prevent employees from accessing some websites like online shopping to encourage productivity. 

With these benefits in mind, follow our easy guide on how to implement the switch configuration. 

How to configure a network switch 

Below are some of the most important network switch configuration steps to help you get started.

1. Inspect your device hardware

First, check the model or manufacturer of the switch you’ll be using assuming your organization buys a new one. If you’re using a spare, check your device hardware and the cables attached to it for any damages. Next, power on the switch to see if the indicator lights are working properly. 

You’ll then need a rollover cable to console into the device from your PC. You’ll also have to download and install Putty to do this. Now, run Putty and choose a serial connection with 9000 speed. Once you’re connected to the switch, run and pay attention to the output of these commands:

  • Show running-config
  • Show VTP status
  • Show version
  • Show VLAN brief

For spare switches, delete the flash:vlan.dat file to remove the existing VLAN configuration. 

2. Set management IP

While you don’t have to change the hostname of your device, most organizations follow a standard naming procedure for management and organization purposes. 

So, set the hostname depending on the naming assignment your organization is implementing and then assign the management VLAN an IP address. Next, set up your domain name properly and ensure the switch has a hostname. 

3. Check Virtual Trunking Protocol (VTP) revision number

Use the “show VTP status” command to check the revision numbers of your switches and whether they’re using VTP. By default, new switches have a zero VTP revision number that determines the updates a VTP domain can use.  

After setting up a VTP Domain Name, the revision number is usually set to zero. However, the number increases by one every time you make a change to the VLAN database. Note that switches only process data if the neighboring switch revision number is higher than its own and from a switch that’s coming from the same domain.

This means a network switch will update its VLAN configuration depending on the VTP data sent by the highest revision number switch. So, ensure the switch has a zero revision number before adding it to your network to avoid interfering with how the network works. 

4. Access ports configuration

Now, enable the access ports using the switch configuration commands. Keep in mind that port configuration is determined by the setup required by your workstations. Once the configuration is complete, save the changes made to the startup configuration.

5. Configure the trunk ports

Check the trunking protocol supported using the “sh int g0/1 capabilities” command. If ISL is supported, type on the trunk port configuration the “switchport trunk encapsulation dot1q” command. 

You can also type “switchport mode trunk“, which means there’s no need for issuing an encapsulation command because there’s no other encapsulation supported. 

6. Configure SSH access

After performing basic switch configurations like assigning the domain name and hostname, switches also require RSA keys they’ll be using during the SSH process. So, you’ll have to generate the keys using the crypto commands. 

7. Setup VTY line config

If you haven’t set up the console line, use the “enable secret password” command to set the enable password. Next, set the privilege exec password with username name privilege 15 secret password and activate the password encryption service. 

Type “sh is ssp” to verify SSH access. Now, try login in from a remote machine to see if you can ssh to your switch. 

If you want to build on this information, invest in high-quality software tools such as the Juniper switches to help you optimize and manage your network switch configuration.


Maclean Odiesa
Maclean Odiesa
Maclean is a tech freelance writer with 7+ years in content strategy and development. She is also a pillar pages specialist and SEO expert.

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