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This is the topology we are going to work in. In the cloud, we have three switches, but we cannot see how they interconnect devices. We need to find out
with troubleshooting.

After that, we hidden all the switches. This way, we cannot simply see where the cable goes. Instead, we must check the conguration on the switches, doing
real switch troubleshooting. We will have to jump on the core device (TopSwitchL3) and then telnet into other switches.

The Requirements
Since this article is all about switch troubleshooting, there is no specific configuration requirement. You wont implement anything new, but instead you
are going to work with issues. Cisco introduces you to troubleshooting with the concept of ticket, and because of that we will do the same. The technical
term for ticket is, in reality, incident: heres the definition.


It can be a hardware fault, someone plugging a PC in the wrong port, or anything else you need to fix. Tickets are raised by users complaining that
something do no work, then you need to identify the problem and solve it. For this article, you have three tickets to solve:

1. Users in the Sales office are complaining they cannot print

2. A guy from the Engineering department complains he has no network access
3. A Junior IT Support technician reported strange alerts on RightSwitch when connected via console

Device credentials
To access the peripheral switches (LeftSwitch, CenterSwitch and RightSwitch) contained in the cloud, refer to the following table.

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Access credential

Device IP address VTY password Enable secret

TopSwitch - ictshore

LeftSwitch ictshore ictshore

CenterSwitch ictshore ictshore

RightSwitch ictshore ictshore

List of steps
Since this is a troubleshooting article, we cannot define a specific steps list that will work 100% of the times. However, the following list is the one that
will get you to the problem faster. Moreover, we arranged it to be optimized for switch troubleshooting.

1. Define the problem

2. Find device(s) having issues
3. Check VLANs configuration
4. Verify trunk ports configuration
5. Check access ports configuration
6. Troubleshoot client issues

The first step is going to be Define the problem every time. However, based on what the problem really is, later steps may be followed in a different
order. We are going to follow these steps for both tickets, but before we do it we should talk about troubleshooting approaches.

Troubleshooting approaches and Tips

Some people thing troubleshooting is like an art. Instead, troubleshooting is a simple task that can be written in form of procedure. Troubleshooting can
be stressful, and you might end up performing the same checks again and again. This is frustrating, as you convince yourself that there is no reason for
the problem, and it shouldnt be happening. Nonetheless, it is happening. You need to have a plan. We can talk a lot about troubleshooting approaches,
but for now we will give you just a few tips.

First, state the problem clearly, talking with the user if necessary.
Use the divide-and-conquer approach. This mean you start by pinging between the two devices that cannot communicate. If the ping is successful,
check for application problems at upper OSI layers. Instead, if the ping fails, do a traceroute to find where in the network the problem is. Then,
check data-link layer and physical connections. This approach is opposed to the bottom-up approach (starting from the cabling) and the top-down
approach (starting from the application). With this approach, you start in the middle of the OSI layer.
Write down everything you do, so you wont be repeating steps. This is useful for complex issues or infrastructures.
If you still cannot resolve the issue, dont panic. Google is your friend, check for users having similar issues.

These concepts are fundamentals. They will help you a lot in switch troubleshooting. We are going to see how right below when working on the tickets.

Ticket #1
Dene the problem
The first ticket we are going to face is for the PCs in the Sales department that cannot print. This definition is way far from a punctual problem statement.
After calling users, we clarify that they cannot access printers, servers and file share on the network. Based on that, we know that it is unlikely to be a
print problem. Both users have the same problem, but the two PCs can communicate with one another.

Its time for you to gather technical details. You ask the users to open the command prompt (from the Start or with Win+R, then cmd for Windows users)
and type ipconfig/all . We need to gather four items: IP address, default gateway, subnet mask and Physical address (mac address). The two devices
having problem are Laptop0 and Laptop1, so here is an example of Laptop 0 output.

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This is the output from Laptptop0

After talking with the user, here is what we have learnt.

User 1 is using a laptop with IP and subnet mask of . Its default gateway is and the MAC address is 00D0FF
66C6A1 .
User 2 is also using a laptop, with IP and subnet mask of . Its default gateway is still and the MAC address is
00E08FE15D8B .

From that, we know that IP configuration on the two laptops is correct. This is likely to be a network issue, and we need to find where in the network the
issue is.

Gathering more information

When we face this kind of problem, we need to find out where the isolation is. In other words, we know that these two PCs are somehow isolated, but we
need to know if they can reach at least their gateway, or if there is a problem with L2 segmentation. So, we jump on the TopSwitchL3, which is the default
gateway, and we try to ping these two IP addresses. Both pings will fail.

Both laptops are not reachable from their default gateway (TopSwitchL3).

Verify ARP cache

Since pings are failing, and we are in the same subnet, we need to verify if data-link layer is working as expected. To verify data-link layer, we start by
issuing showiparp just after those pings. With this command, we are checking if our switch was able to resolve the IP addresses to MAC addresses.

This is the content of the ARP table.

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The command showiparp presents you the content of the ARP table. In other words, you can find all the bindings between IP addresses and MAC
addresses the switch know. It may contain hundreds, or even thousands of entries in a real-world switch performing routing. This command presents you
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several columns, heres their meaning.

Protocol Internet stands for IP, identifies the protocol that triggered the ARP request/response process
Address IP address
Time in minutes since the (HTTP://WWW.ICTSHORE.COM/ABOUT/)
entry is in the table LOG IN (HTTP://WWW.ICTSHORE.COM/WP-LOGIN.PHP)
Hardware Addr MAC address associated to the IP address in the same row

Type ARP encapsulation type, generally ARPA, way out of scope for this article
Interface On which interface the switch learnt the MAC address

Entries that has no age (but a dash instead) are the ones associated switchs IP addresses. Moreover, note that this table is populated only from ARP
requests the switch made. As as a result, ARP requests made from other devices and passing through the switch will be ignored.

Checking the previous output, we didnt find any MAC address but the ones of the local switch. This mean that ARP requests have been failing, so we have
a problem at the data-link layer or even below.

Verify MAC address table

The MAC address table on a switch remembers the association between a MAC address and a physical port of the switch. The switch will populate that
table and keep it up-to-date every time it receives an ethernet frame. In other words, to see the MAC address of these laptops on the Top switch, laptops
must generate traffic and that traffic must reach the Top switch. Even ARP responses are traffic, but we dont know if our requests made it to the client. In
case they didnt, the device wont have generated any traffic. Just to be sure, jump on Laptop0 and ping the default gateway, .

Ping fails as expected.

Even if ping fails, our PC has generated some traffic, so we can check the ARP table on the Top switch to see if they made it. We do it by typing showmac
addresstable from the privileged exec prompt.

This is the content of the MAC address table.

We are looking for the MAC address of the Laptop0, which is 00d0.ff66.c6a1 (in Cisco notation). Nevertheless, we cannot find this MAC address here. Now
we are sure that communication with the device doing routing is broken. We need to find if we can reach the peripheral switch, at least. Since we dont
know to where in the network Laptop0 is, we need to check all the switches. Our objective is to find a switch having that MAC address in the MAC address

Checking MAC address table on peripheral switches

To continue with our switch troubleshooting, we are going to connect to LeftSwitch. To do it, remain on TopSwitchL3 in privileged exec, then type telnet and enter the password as required. Then, once again, issue showmacaddresstable and check the results.

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This time we found the device we were looking for (highlighted).

Here we are! We found our device, it is connected to the FastEthernet 0/10 port on LeftSwitch. At this point, we know that the connection between Laptop0
and LeftSwitch is working fine, but there might be some problems between LeftSwitch and top switch. Before we check that, try to discover where Laptop1
is connected on your own. Just for the sake of learning, heres the explanation of showmacaddresstable output.

Vlan the VLAN associated to the MAC address, this comes from the VLAN associated to the port
Mac Address the MAC address itself
Type How the MAC address was learnt, dynamic means from an ethernet frame, static means it was hardcoded
Port Physical port this MAC address was seen on

Tip: if you dont see the MAC address even there, it means the MAC address table aged out. Try again the ping from the Laptop and, as soon as it nishes, immediately
check the MAC address table.

Checking trunks
This problem involves two devices on the same VLAN, so it could be potentially a problem of that VLAN. We issue showvlanbrief to check if the VLAN
exists, and we find that VLAN 102 is the one for Laptops. Consequently, we need to check if this VLAN goes on the trunk toward TopSwitchL3. We do that
with showinterfacestrunk .

VLAN 102 is missing from the trunk to TopSwitchL3.

This must be the problem. Therefore, all we need to do is enter in configuration mode, go under the interface GigabitEthernet 0/1 and add the missing
VLANs. Below, the needed commands.


Once you typed that, try to ping the default gateway from both Laptop1 and Laptop2. This problem prevented all the traffic from devices on LeftSwitch to
reach the TopSwitch, the routing core. As a result, all devices inside VLAN 102 on LeftSwitches, was isolated from everything else. Review this
configuration, and when you feel confident with what we did move to the next ticket.

Ticket #2
Dene the problem

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The second ticket in our Switch Troubleshooting is the one from the Engineering guy, the one complaining to have no network access. This time, we know
the problem is on Laptop2, and only on that device. All laptops are working fine, and other devices connected to the same switch are working fine too.
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Therefore, we know that this problem is very limited, and can be associated to either PC settings or access port settings.

Gathering additional information
Again, we need to know the whereabouts of the PC. So, log into Laptop2 and, from the prompt, type ipconfig/all . You will find that this PC has the IP
address associated with a /24 subnet mask, the default gateway is the and the MAC address is 0002.154c.552c . Since we know the

problem is likely to be on the device, its time to find it.

Finding the device in the network

This time we will go much faster. First thing, from the command prompt of Laptop2, issue a ping toward to generate traffic. After that,
immediately check the MAC address table of TopSwitchL3 with showmacaddresstablecommand . We are looking for 0002.154c.552c . Apparently, we found

We can see the MAC address of the laptop on TopSwitchL3.

At a first glance, the laptop might seem connected to FastEthernet 0/2 on TopSwitchL3. The problem is clear from there, the laptop is in VLAN 301 (servers)
instead of VLAN 102 (laptops). However, we are doing switch troubleshooting, so we must look closely. Thus, we see than this port is associated to multiple
MAC addresses in different VLANs. We should check whether it is a trunk using our friend showinterfacestrunk .

This interface is a trunk, likely to be connected to another Switch.

To help you, FastEthernet 0/2 is the interface connecting CenterSwitch. Since we saw the MAC address of the laptop coming from that interface, the
laptop must be connected to that switch. We can reach it with telnet10.80.0.3 and check its MAC address table.

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Here we are. This time we truly found the device.

Interface FastEhternet 0/10 is an access port in VLAN 301. To put it in VLAN 102, as it should be, use the following commands.


Done. The problem is fixed, and pinging again can prove it.

Ticket #3
Dene the problem
For the third ticket of our switch troubleshooting, a Junior technician told us about strange messages on RightSwitch. So, we know where the problem is
and we just need to check those messages. Log into RightSwitch using telnet to check those messages. However, since messages normally
appear in console only, and we dont have console access, we need to find an alternative way.

To see the log messages in VTY lines, type terminalmonitor , and to disable that use terminalnomonitor . If you wait for about 30 seconds with the terminal
monitor on, you will see a CDP error message as in picture.

Here is the CDP error we were looking for.

Fixing Native VLAN Mismatch

Lets analyze the syntax. Heres the whole message.


This message is extremely clear, but analyzing all its sections will make that even clearer.

%CDP Cisco Discovery Protocol, is the protocol that noticed the error
4 Severity, indicates how sever this error is, where 0 is the most sever and 7 is debugging. 4 means warning.
NATIVE_VLAN_MISMATCH The code of the error

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NativeVLANmismatchdiscovered Brief description of the error, it indicates that the native VLAN on one side of a trunk is different from the one set
by the other switch
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onGigabitEthernet0/1 interface of the local switch
(1) Native VLAN of the local switch
withTopSwitchL3 Hostname of the remote switch
FastEthernet0/3 interface of the remote switch
What this message is trying to say is that the native VLAN on this switch differs with the one on the other side of the trunk. Specifically, TopSwitchL3 is
using VLAN 99 correct while RightSwitch is using VLAN 1 wrong. To fix this, simply add the commands below.


Then wait for about a minute, you wont see any more message like that.

Congratulations! We finished our switch troubleshooting successfully, now everything works as expected. Just to recap, we learnt two powerful
commands: showiparp and showmacaddresstable . These two commands help you to locate devices in the network, and perform basic troubleshooting.
With experience increasing, you will become faster and faster in switch troubleshooting tasks.

Continue to follow our Free CCNA course to learn everything else you need to work in networking, and get your certification fast and easy.


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Free CCNA Course (http://www.ictshore.com/category/free-ccna-course/), Hands-on Lab (http://www.ictshore.com/category/hands-on-lab/), Networking Fundamentals

(http://www.ictshore.com/category/networking-fundamentals/), Switching (http://www.ictshore.com/category/networking-fundamentals/switching/), Troubleshooting
access ports (http://www.ictshore.com/tag/access-ports/), Cisco (http://www.ictshore.com/tag/cisco/), Cisco IOS commands (http://www.ictshore.com/tag/cisco-ios-
commands/), Cisco Packet Tracer (http://www.ictshore.com/tag/cisco-packet-tracer/), Configuration (http://www.ictshore.com/tag/configuration/), IEEE 802.1q
(http://www.ictshore.com/tag/ieee-802-1q/), IP (http://www.ictshore.com/tag/ip/), Native VLAN Mismatch (http://www.ictshore.com/tag/native-vlan-mismatch/), Networking
(http://www.ictshore.com/tag/networking/), OSI (http://www.ictshore.com/tag/osi/), Switching (http://www.ictshore.com/tag/switching/), Trunk
(http://www.ictshore.com/tag/trunk/), VLANs (http://www.ictshore.com/tag/vlans/)

Alessandro Maggio
I love delivering first-class network environments. I do that as a Network Engineer by designing and implementing solutions, which I am often able to
deploy in a partially-automated fashion by developing process automation scripts.


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