There are several ways to access the CLI environment. The most common methods are:


The console port is a management port that provides out-of-band access to Cisco device. Out-of-band access refers to access via a dedicated management channel that is used for device maintenance purposes only. The advantage of using a console port is that the device is accessible even if no networking services have been configured, such as when performing an initial configuration of the networking device. When performing an initial configuration, a computer running terminal emulation software is connected to the console port of the device using a special cable. Configuration commands for setting up the switch or router can be entered on the connected computer.

The console port can also be used when the networking services have failed and remote access of the Cisco IOS device is not possible. If this occurs, a connection to the console can enable a computer to determine the status of the device. By default, the console conveys the device startup, debugging, and error messages. After the network technician is connected to the device, the network technician can perform any configuration commands necessary using the console session.

For many IOS devices, console access does not require any form of security, by default. However, the console should be configured with passwords to prevent unauthorized device access. In the event that a password is lost, there is a special set of procedures for bypassing the password and accessing the device. The device should also be located in a locked room or equipment rack to prevent unauthorized physical access.