For a Cisco 2960-S switch, when connecting on the console port, normally the prompt is:


then you issue an enable command and end-up with a prompt like:


However, I stumbled to diagnostic a switch which was improperly booted with this prompt:


Note that the hostname wasn't shown, switch: is the exact prompt displayed, ending with a colon. I tried finding more information about this mode so that I can understand what happened and if it will happen again, but couldn't.


  • there was a blinking-amber light on the front panel (I must admit I did not note which one, but it was one of the top ones, I think it could be RPS)
  • this was following a power outage
  • none of the ports had any indicators ON
  • no command of my knowledge were recognized on that prompt
  • I ended-up powering off twice the switch until it booted properly again
  • I haven't been able to reproduce since

2 Answers 2


The colon indicates that you've entered the switch bootloader.

There are a few things you can do in this mode, the most popular I can think of is replacing a corrupted IOS image, which would be a good reason why you ended up there in the first place.

  • 1
    "bootloader mode" is then the cisco nomenclature for this mode Aug 5, 2013 at 16:20
  • 4
    another good reason to be in the bootrom is to bypass the saved config on next boot. This is often times useful and used for password resets.
    – emynd
    Aug 5, 2013 at 16:49

You've most likely accidentally pushed the "Mode" button on the front-left of the switch while it was booting. This will put the switch into "switch: mode", where you can perform functions such as password recovery, work with the flash, etc. -- see Cisco here:


You can type the command "boot" to reload the switch (or simply power cycle it), and it should then boot up normally.


  • If it was following a power outage, there's also a chance that a glitch on the console got interpreted as a break. Aug 7, 2013 at 20:37

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