How to Setup a serial Console connection

How to Setup a serial Console connection

Most managed devices like switches, routers and others allow a direct connection via a serial Console connection.


Console terminal serial port (COM port)

A compatible Console terminal can be setup with a PC running Windows or Linux with at least one COM port connector (male type). If your system does not have a COM port you can get an USB – COM adapter to have at least one COM port connector.

COM2 (DB25 male) and COM1 (DE9 male) ports USB – COM (DE9 male) adapter
COM1 and COM2 (both DE9 male) ports

Device Console port

Usually Console port on device is DE9 or RJ45 (most Cisco devices) and on older devices can also show as DB25. In this case it can be easily converted to DE9 using an adapter. Multiple configurations may be found.

RJ45 Console port DB25 (male) to DE9 (female) adapter
DB25 (female) Console port
DE9 (male) Console port

Serial cable

Serial cables usually have 2 DE9 connectors (one male / female and other female) or a DE9 (female) and a RJ45 connector (this one is also known as a Cisco rollover cable).

DE9 cable (male – female) cable DE9 cable (female – female) cable Cisco rollover cable

On Windows you can use HyperTerminal or SecureCRT and on Linux you can use Minicom.
You must configure connection so both sides expect same data speed and protocol. A typical configuration to connect to a Cisco switch or router is 9600 8 N 1 (meaning 9600 baud, 8 data bits, no parity and 1 stop bit). Console terminal must be setup with these settings so communication to device is successful.

Console terminal


HyperTerminal (from Windows XP) can be used as a Console terminal also on other Windows versions (tested under Windows 7). You just need to grab application files from a Windows XP. You will need the following files:

- hypertrm.exe: main executable file
- hypertrm.dll: library file
- hticons.dll: icons file 
- hypertrm.hlp: help file
- hypertrm.chm: help file
HyperTerminal: File list

… And they will be in several places on Windows XP Install like c:\windows, c:\windows\system32 and c:\windows\help. You can pack and copy them all into a single folder and you are ready to go, just start hypertrm.exe.

Windows XP HyperTerminal

Now I will setup a connection to a Cisco 2651 router as example. I will be using an USB to Serial adapter to have at least one COM serial port and a typical Cisco rollover cable to connect to router Console port.

Connection diagram

You should confirm your COM port number. If your computer as one or two ports they are usually ports 1 and 2. On this example I will be using COM8 given by an USB – COM adapter (port number can be seen on Windows 7 on “Device Manager” – “Ports (COM&LPT)”.

COM port number shown on “Device Manager” – “Ports (COM&LPT)”

Give connection a name (“Cisco serial Console”) and press OK. (You can choose any icon available.) After you connect using your available COM port (“COM8” for me) and press OK.

HyperTerminal: New connection name

HyperTerminal: Choose port to connect to device Console

Now we must configure expected device settings on “Port Settings”. Those settings can be found sometimes printed on device chassis, device documentation and / or available from manufacturer website. Most Cisco devices like 2651 router use 9600 baud (“Bits per Second”), 8 bits (“Data bits”), “No Parity” and 1 “Stop bit”. Flow control can be important, depending on your COM port hardware, if you wish to do a device recovery and need to send a “space” or other char while device is booting. For now I will leave this as is (flow control by hardware). Change “Bits per second” to 9600, from defaults, and press OK.

HyperTerminal: Choose serial Console port settings

Be sure that cable or cables are firmly connected and turn on your device. Connection should show now 9600 8-N-1 on status bar and output from device should start to be seen on HyperTerminal Console terminal also. When requested you can login into your device and start working… (You may need to press Enter sometimes to see output.)

HyperTerminal: Console terminal with a Cisco 2651 and login


SecureCRT can be used for telnet, ssh connections but also as a serial Console terminal. You can get it from Vandyke Software – SecureCRT with a 30-day evaluation license. Setup is same as other Windows applications.
Configuration is also very similar to one made with HyperTerminal. First we create a new Session.

Vandyke SecureCRT

A wizard will start to helps us set all relevant options: a) Protocol: Serial, b) Settings: Port: COM8 (use your COM port number) and Baud rate: 9600, keep other settings on default: Data bits: 8, Parity: None and Stop bits: 1 and finally c) set Session name: “Cisco serial Console”. After all setup you can start your serial Console terminal pressing Connect.

a) SecureCRT: Choose Protocol

b) SecureCRT: Choose Settings

c) Secure CRT: New Session name

SecureCRT: Connect will start a serial Console terminal


SecureCRT: Console terminal with a Cisco 2651 and login


Comments and suggestions to improve this entry are very welcome…

About Vitor M. N. Fernandes

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7 thoughts on “How to Setup a serial Console connection

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  3. pavani

    i am trying to connect with hyper terminal and getting press enter to console by pressing enter nothing is happening


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