Yes, it can happen. Despite Cisco’s high-quality designs and rigorous production standards, their switches have been known to fail on occasion. No one’s perfect. And with equipment this sophisticated, there are plenty of potential failure points.

If your switch starts to act up or shut down, it’s time to start troubleshooting. There’s a pretty good chance you can take care of the issue on your own. Let’s take a look at some of the most common problems.

Check Your Hardware

The first thing you’ll want to check is your hardware. Start by looking over your cables, including the power and internal cables. One improperly installed cable can lead to a whole mess of problems. Checking through each one can be tedious, but it’s worth doing; a simple reversed cable has stumped many a veteran system administrator. Make sure everything’s facing the right direction and connected firmly. And while you’re at it, check for any visible damage to your cables.

Once you’ve made sure your cables are as they should be, take a look at the following:

  • Power supplies – Any problems with your power will disrupt performance.
  • Motherboard – If your unit gives off a burning smell, the motherboard may have fried. Replace the unit.
  • Mode button – If the LED light is yellow, you could have a bad port. (The light will be green if everything’s in order.)

Check the Environment

Not every switch is made for every condition. If you need your network to perform in certain harsh conditions, make sure your hardware is durable enough for the task. If you need to beef up your gear, no problem! Cisco makes a line of industrial switches specially designed for tough environments.

Consider Whether or Not You’re Using the Appropriate Switch

Is your switch strong enough? Is it modern enough? If you’re operating in a high-use environment, check to see if you’re forcing your device to operate beyond capacity. Overloading your equipment will harm your system’s performance.

Look Into the Operating System

If your switch boots up, try using some IOS commands. (If the switch doesn’t boot, you likely have a power supply issue or a dead unit.) Cisco switch interfaces offer some good troubleshooting tools. Check out the documentation on their website for a thorough list of IOS commands. With a little patience and a fair amount of technical knowledge, you’ll be able to use these commands to identify a huge number of issues. Among the most important commands to run: show log, show environment, and show post.

Consult the Manual

The complete list of possible problems is beyond the scope of a blog post. Cisco provides in-depth online documentation for their products, so dig a little deeper. A little homework can go a long way.

If All Else Fails, You Have a Lifetime Warranty!

If you try everything and still can’t get your switch running properly, you might just have a faulty piece of equipment. Luckily, Summit offers a lifetime warranty on Cisco switches to its clients. If you purchased your switch from us and it becomes defective, we’ll replace it.

Be Prepared

As we all know, a little preparation goes a long way. Many environments have hot spares on hand in case something does go down. Service contracts are great, but if a critical piece of equipment in your core goes down, what will happen to your company’s productivity? Can you wait four hours or a day to get a replacement?