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Resetting your Cisco 7940/7960's Password

We are 'SIP' Oriented

Most of the folks who access these pages use their Cisco phones for accessing a SIP server (and so do we). In fact, the only experience we have with the other Cisco protocols is how to replace them with SIP firmware so our phones will work in our environment. If you're not in the 'SIP Club', you're welcome to read along but we can't guarantee this page will help you much. - Sorry.


Many times folks will buy, trade, or otherwise obtain Cisco 7940/7960 phones that have been 'locked' (changed to something other than 'cisco') and they don't know the phone's password (sound familiar?). You most likely need to 'unlock' the phone to get into the "Network Configuration" to change stuff like TFTP address, etc.

A Factory Reset - Will NOT reset the phone's pasword. Oh it'll reset a lot of stuff allright, but changing the phone's password must be done by loading a configuration file into the phone from a TFTP server.

Just for Grins

Before continuing, give this a try just for grins:

On your phone, press 'Settings'. Now scroll to the bottom and look for the item 'Unlock Config'. If you don't see this that means A) you have a very early firmware version (unlikely) -or- B) you have a version of firmware that won't allow you to 'unlock' it (most likely). - Oh well, we tried.

If you don't see Unlock Config, try pressing **# (asterisk - asterisk - pound). - This is how we we 'unlock' the 7905/7912 phones.

If you do see 'Unlock Config', you'll have to enter the phone's password. - The default password from the factory is: cisco - give this a try.

Did either above work? Congrats! - No? Thought so (or else you would'nt be reading this page, right?). Please continue.

My first 'cop-out'

I only know how to reset a phone's password if the phone has the SIP firmware installed. - This is done by setting a parameter in a confiuration file and letting the phone download that file when it boots. - Bottom line.

Even if your phone doesn't have 'SIP' you'll probably want to change it anyway. - We'll talk about how we do this as we wade through this mess.

How the Phone Boots Up

Let's take a minute to make sure we're all on the same page & talk a little on what happens when the phone boots up. - Of course I'm probably leaving something out but this is my "best guess" and it works for me anyway.

Assuming the phone has an ethernet cable plugged in and is connected to a LAN, the power cord is plugged in.

  1. Phone starts & sets up it's network parameters.
  2. Phone contacts designated TFTP server & requests configuration files & updates it's flash memory based on these file contents.
  3. Phone sets parameters based on config files.
  4. Phone comes on line (with whatever confiuration is contained in flash memory).

That should be simple enough. But what if ........ ? - Yeah, I know. Happens to me all the time. - Let's look into these steps a little deeper.

Phone's network parameters. The phone can use DHCP to obtain an IP address from a DHCP server. - This also supplies the netmask, gateway, & DNS server info to the phone. -alaternately- The phone could be configured not to use a DHCP server and have all it's network information pre-programmed. -finally- Even if the phone is programed to use DHCP, a specific DHCP server could be specified .

What if the phone can't find a DHCP server? My (SIP ver. 7.5) phone just sits there bouncing back and forth between "Configuring IP" and "Configuring VLAN". - So if your phone is set to use DHCP, you better have a DHCP server it can "reach".

What if the phone can't find a TFTP server? If the phone can't find a TFTP server, obviously item #2 & #3 (above) doesn't happen. - But the phone will revert to whatever's stored in it's flash memory (from the last time it downloaded files) and come on line.

What files does the phone request? Hey! Good Question! Depending on the firmware loaded in the phone, it's version, and even some of the parameters contained in the phone's configuration, the phone can (and will) request a number of different files by name. - This can greatly differ between firmware loads. - We'll get more into this later in this page.

Network Setup Scenarios

Based on the above, here's a chart with some possible scenarios. - To make life easier for us, we want our phone to conform to Scenario A.

Phone's Network config item
No* (Note 1)
If DHCP is set to 'NO', 'Alternate TFTP' defaults to 'NO'.
IP Address
Obtained via DHCP
Obtained via DHCP
Any valid IP Address
If 'Alternate TFTP' is set to 'NO', TFTP server defaults to DHCP server's IP address.
DNS Mask
Obtained via DHCP
Obtained via DHCP
Any valid DNS Mask
Phone's IP address and TFTP server should never be the same.
(Uses) 'Alternate' TFTP
No (Note 2)
No (Note 2)
TFTP server's
IP address
Same IP as DHCP server's address
Any valid IP Address (Note 3)
Same IP as DHCP server's address

Getting a phone to match 'Scenario A'

Although you cannot change the phone's password, you can manually reset the phone back to 'factory' defaults. - During this step, you can also 'erase' it's network configuration effectively matching it up with our 'Scenario A'. - Here's how to do it:

  • Reset the Phone. - You can do this by a 'power reset' or by pressing 'asterisk'-'6'-'Settings' at the same time. - Cisco's version of a PC's 'alt'-'ctrl'-'del' (three-finger salute). Note: - Some firmware(s) will not recognize the 'three-finger salute'. - In these cases you must 'power reset' the phone.

  • When the phone starts resetting (the 'headset' light will come on) hold down the '#' key to initiate a reset.

  • When the phone detects the 'reset request', you'll see 'Reset key sequence detected' on the phone's LCD screen and the 'headset', 'mute', 'speaker' lights will start sequencing.

    Release the '#' key.

    Note: - This will 'time out' after about 30 seconds & revert to a re-boot if you don't do anything.

  • Press the following keys in in order:

    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 * 0 #

    If you pressed the keys in the correct order, you'll now see the following question on the phone's LCD screen:

    Save network cfg? 1=yes 2=no

  • Press '2' to erase the network configuration.
  • You'll now see 'Factory reset initiated' displayed on the LCD screen then the phone will re-boot.

Any 'DHCP' specific info in the phone will now be reset & 'USE DHCP' will be enabled (with no specific DHCP server specified). - When your phone boots up the next time, it will look at the first DHCP sever it finds on your LAN (in my case, my router) for IP address info. It'll also 'think' that this DHCP server is also a TFTP server as a source for configuration files.

A mini-refresher on DHCP & TFTP - Please read.

DHCP - You should all know that the purpose of a DHCP server is to provide IP addresses (and other info) to computers and devices on the network that request it. - DHCP servers can be ran on computers and other devices within the network. - In my case, my DHCP server is my Linksys router. Hint: You never want more than one DHCP server per network (unless you really know what you're doing).

TFTP - We're all familiar with 'FTP', but 'TFTP' means Trivial File Transfer Protocol. - This is really a scaled down version that doesn't do any login/password verification. - It just sends/receives files.

Back in my early Unix days, we used TFTP to boot Sun Sparc 'diskless' workstations. - The workstation would boot, get it's IP info from the DHCP server then request it's boot file from the DHCP server's IP address. We called this 'bootp'.

This same scenario holds true with the Cisco phones. - If an 'alternate' TFTP server is not specified, the phone will request it's files (via tftp) from the IP address of the DHCP server. - Please remember this.

Setting Up Your PC & Home Network to Configure Your Phone

Cop out #2 - I'm using a MS Windoze XP box for a "source" of config files to be loaded into the phone. - I'm sure a Linux box or even a Mac will also work. - I'd be interested to see how folks do this on other platforms. - Might even add a section on it here.

Set your PC up to use a 'Static IP' address. For example, on the LAN side of my router, I use the following setup:

  • Gateway (router's IP address):
  • Netmask:
  • DHCP Pool Starting Address:
  • DNS Servers: & yyy.yyy.yyy.yyy
    I can't tell you what these are or my ISP will have my butt!

So on my PC, I set a static ip of (to keep it out of the DHCP pool).

Getting and Installing a DHCP/TFTP Server

I'm going to run some software to make my PC 'look' and act like a DHCP/TFTP server. - And you'll need to as well.

The best software I've found (and it's free too!) for this is tftpd32 - by Ph. Jounin. - I've mirrored a copy here at 'Jtech':

This software doesn't "install". Just unzip the zip file to a folder on our C: drive (I use "C:\tftp"). - Don't forget to make a shortcut on your desktop pointing to "tftpd32.exe".

Decision Time - DHCP Server

If your home network is like mine, your router is your DHCP server. But it can't work as a TFTP server. That's why we have 'tpftp32' to both functions.

HOWEVER - We cannot have two DHCP servers running on our LAN at the same time.

The easiest way (if you can) is to simply log into our router and temporarilly DISABLE it's DHCP server.

If you cannot disable your router's DHCP server, you'll need to go with our "Mini-LAN approach - see below.

Making a Mini-LAN (If you cannot disable your router's DHCP server)

As you can see, my 'Mini-LAN' isn't much. - Just a PC and a phone both connected to a small Ethernet Hub.

In fact, you don't even need an Ethernet Hub if you can find (or make) an 'Ethernet Cross Cable'. - With one of these cables, you can plug the phone directly into the PC's Ethernet port. - You can find instructions on making one of these cables by googling around on the Internet.

My PC Workstation (Windows-XP box) would normally obtain it's network config from a DHCP server (a Linksys router in my case). But my regular DHCP server is now out of the picture in this set up. - To get around this, we must statically assign a 'fixed' IP address to our PC.

HINT - If you set up a "Mini-LAN", make sure this page is loaded on a browser of your PC so you can refer to it.

Setting up & running 'tftpd32' for the first time.

While this is not meant to be a complete tutorial on 'tftpd32', I'll tell you how I did it and make suggestions for your own config.

1 - Create a folder on your C:\ drive where tftpd32 will get the files to send to your phone (I use "C:\cisco").

2 - Launch 'tftpd32'. - Note: If Windoze firewall complains about the software and has 'blocked' some of it's features (see box on left). Simply click on 'Unblock'. - I've seen cases where it might actually be necessary to disable the Windoze firewall.

3 - With 'tftpd32' running, click on 'Settings' tab at the bottom.

  • Browse to and set up the 'Base Directory' to point to the folder you set up to hold your files for tftpd to send to the phone. - Note: - You must set this directory here else it won't default to this folder the next time you start 'tftpd32.

  • In 'Global Settings', you only need 'TFTP Server' & 'DHCP' Server checked. - You can take all the defaults for the rest of this screen.

  • If you really get lost, you can always check the 'Default' tab at the bottom of the screen, accept the warning, then exit the program & re-launch it.

  • Once you're happy with your settings, click 'OK' at the bottom of the screen. You'll be told that restart 'tftpd' for these settings to take effect. - That's fine. - Go ahead and do it

4 - After making the 'global' settings and with tftpd running again, notice at the top of the screen you should see your 'Current Directory' where tftpd will get files to send to the phone. You should also see your PC's static IP Address displayed.

  • Now click on the DHCP Server tab.

  • Here is where you tell your DHCP server what IP address, etc. to give to devices requesting this info. It's not really rocket science and you don't need to fill in all the blanks.
  • IP pool starting address: Enter your PC's IP address pluse one.
  • Size of pool: A value of 5 should be plenty.
  • Default router: Enter the address of your router.
  • Mask: Enter your netmask (probably
  • Now click Save and your DHCP portion should be 'good to go'.

Putting All Together - A 'Real Live' Example

I recently bought a used Cisco 7960 on E-Bay. Of course, I had no initial idea what firmware the phone had loaded (and really didn't care).

The phone would at least boot up on my LAN but (as usual) wouldn't do anything. - No Biggie.

By playing around with the phone & looking at it's status info, I was able to determine the following:

  • Firmware: The phone had firmware: 'P00308000400' loaded. This looks like one of the flavors of 'SCCP' (version 8.x or so). Anyway, it's a newer version of SIP that we maintain here on Jtech.

  • Network: The network configuration settings showed IP addresses that were clearly outside of our local LAN's IP scheme ( - This means the phone was not using DHCP.

  • The 'three-finger-salute' would not work with this firmware. The only way to reset this phone (with it's current firmware) is to do a 'power reset'.

That's enough info to get us started.

Watching the tftpd Log Screen

With 'tftpd32' running, we'll make sure we click the the 'Log Viewer' tab.

Now we'll reset your phone to the factory defaults (making sure we erase the network cfg). After this finishes, we'll 'power reset' our phone and watch our PC's 'tftpd32' log screen (I like to expand this to full screen - makes viewing it easier.

Here's what I saw on my 'tftpd' serverw:

Well, at least we know the phone will 'talk' to our PC's tftpd/dhcp server.

The first three lines have to with DHCP. This shows the dhcp server gave the phone the IP address of: - Note that this is outside of the range I specified earlier. - I guess I had my dhcp server settings slightly diferent. - This is one of thse cases of 'do as I say and not as I do' (grin). - At least it worked.

The remainder of the screen shows what files the phone asked for. Since our "source directory" is still empty, there was a 'file not found' error reported for every one. - That's okay for now, we'll fix it in a minute.

Notice the stuff I outlined in red? These are requests we normally would never see in a SIP (ver 7.5) install. - This is another clue that the phone has something other than SIP loaded.

Again (and I cannot overstate this enough) - Depending what firmware is loaded in your phone, you will probably see a different list of files than my example. - Expect this to happen.

Let's Talk Briefly About File Names

If you notice above, one of the files requested is 'CTLSEP00127FDE8FC5.cnf' - And another is called 'SIPDefault.cnf' -

For the first file, the '00127FDE8FC5 is the phone's MAC Address. Each phone comes from the factory with it's own unique MAC Address. - From now on - I'll simply refer to files using MAC Addresses as something like
'MGC[Mac Address].cnf'

Other files use unique names (i.e. 'SIPDefault.cnf'). Why? - This is for places where several phones are on a network. Some phones share 'common' files and others need 'phone specific' files. - It makes things a lot easier to manage in large installations.

Continuing - Give the Phone the File(s) it Wants

Non-SIP users:

For owners of phones that do not have the SIP protocol loaded, there's not much point reading beyond this (unless you know what file(s) to modify for your particular 'load'). If you wish to convert your phone to SIP, we'll be putting page(s) on-line to try and help.

the 'SIPDefault.cnf' file...

This is the file we want to modify. - Okay - Sure we could also do it the 'SIP[mac address].cnf file, but 'SIPDefault.cnf' is easy to type :-)

If using 'Windoze', fire up 'Notepad' and create one line saying:

phone_password: "cisco" ;

Don't forget the semi-colon and make sure you put a new-line/Enter at the end of the line.

Now save this file in the same folder that 'tftpd' is using to deliver files and give the the name of: 'SIPDefault.cnf

Re-boot your phone. - Your phone's password will now be: 'cisco'

Feedback - Please send me your feedback regarding this page. - That's the only way I know if I'm helping (or hindering) folks. - Thanks!

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GG - Webmaster