I want to know on what basis Cisco designed the different modes in their routers.

For example:

config mode

execution mode

Can any one give the perfect reasons behind the different modes?

What are the configurations that come under execution and config modes?

2 Answers 2


Cisco's IOS uses the different EXEC modes as a basic way to control user privileges. These user privilege controls can be delegated through an enable password, the local user database or AAA (RADIUS, TACACS+).

The two EXEC modes are user mode and privileged mode.

user EXEC mode> is limited to an array of show commands, basic reachability tests, such as ping and traceroute, as well as other ways of viewing configurations and status info of a Cisco device without the ability to make changes.

privileged EXEC mode# is for users that have been delegated admin privileges and need to make changes, view more show commands and debugs as well as using the ability to move further down the configuration hierarchy (such as global configuration mode, interface configuration mode, MQC, etc).

Additionally, both the user EXEC and privileged EXEC modes are subject to further controls known as privilege levels. By default the user EXEC mode has a privilege level of 1(includes all user-level commands) and the privileged EXEC mode has a privilege of 15(full privileges).

Here is a nice visual along with more information.


exec mode is used for show and debug commands. There are multiple privilege levels associated with exec mode. These command privs (and who can use them) can be managed with Cisco's AAA features.

config mode is used to enter configurations from the CLI. Individual config commands can be limited with AAA features.

The two modes are useful so you can assign privileges to network engineers and administrators, based on their skill sets and the needs of the company. As an example, Tier-1 NOC personnel typically shouldn't be allowed to go into configuration mode, but network engineers typically have full config privs.

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