Good day all,

Suppose I am monitoring a large network and do not have physical access to the devices and want to find out what port a device is on. What are some techniques I can use to help accomplish this goal?

One way I can think of is to obtain a trace route from the source machine to a destination ip address.

Then use this to find the router that the device is using to leave the network.

Log into the router and run the command sh ip arp | include [ip address of host]

Once I have the mac address, I will log into the on that LAN switch and type sh mac-address-table | include [mac address of host]

I believe this should point me to the right direction of what port the host is using. I might have some issue if the the interface is setup as a port-channel. If that is the case I may need to run sh int port-channel (correct me if I am wrong).

If I am wrong in any of my steps please correct me, but are their any commands I am missing when trying to trace down the interface a host is on?

  • Just a tip, if you don't see the address in the arp table send a ping to that device from the switch. ARP tables do flush unless a static arp is entered.
    – Fixitrod
    Sep 18, 2016 at 18:08

1 Answer 1


This is exactly the process I would use in most circumstances.

If you have CDP (Cisco Discovery Protocol) enabled on all your switches though, you can save a LOT of time by running Cisco's MAC Traceroute function.

traceroute mac ip <<gateway ip>> <<host ip>> detail

Where <<gateway ip>>> is the gateway address of the subnet the device you are trying to trace (or any other valid IP within that subnet).

0ffnet-LAB1#traceroute mac ip detail
Translating IP to mac ..... => 00a0.6125.af0b => 0029.8856.0f60

Source not directly connected, tracing source .....
Source 00a0.6125.af0b found on 0ffnet-LAB1[WS-C3550-48] (
1 0ffnet-LAB1 / WS-C3550-48 / :
Fa0/27 [auto, auto] => Fa0/3 [auto, auto]
2 0ffnet-LAB2 / WS-C3550-48 / :
Fa0/1 [auto, auto] => Fa0/2 [auto, auto]
Destination 0029.8856.0f60 found on 0ffnet-LAB2[WS-C3550-48] (
Layer 2 trace completed.

If you need to do this on a regular basis (e.g.: you're the network administrator), then there are tools which can automate this process by collecting the MAC tables regularly from your devices and store them in a database e.g.:


You can easily do something similar with SNMP and a bit of coding experience.

  • 1
    +1 but since OP wrote ` I will log into the on that LAN switch` perhaps it would be good to clarify explicitly (since you already imply it but I think it could be made more clear) that the LAN may consist of more than one switch and so the first switch you log into may see the MAC on a link to another switch etc.
    – hertitu
    Sep 17, 2016 at 22:05

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