Our network experienced a short outage when one of our BGP routes went down for a short time yesterday. Thankfully our connections failed over to our secondary BGP route after a few minutes, and the primary route became operational after a shut/no shut on the ISP side.

We're running 2 stacked (backplane) Cisco 3750e switches running iOS 12.2 58.

In my conversation with our ISP, they couldn't give any definitive answers to the cause. Is there anything that we can do to pinpoint the cause on our end to avoid this issue in the future?

Log at the time of error

172258: May  6 14:43:06: %BGP-5-ADJCHANGE: neighbor xxx.xxx.12.34 Down BGP Notification sent
172259: May  6 14:43:06: %BGP-3-NOTIFICATION: sent to neighbor xxx.xxx.12.34 4/0 (hold time expired) 0 bytes
172260: May  6 14:43:06: %BGP_SESSION-5-ADJCHANGE: neighbor xxx.xxx.12.34 IPv4 Multicast topology base removed from session  BGP Notification sent
172261: May  6 14:43:06: %BGP_SESSION-5-ADJCHANGE: neighbor xxx.xxx.12.34 IPv4 Unicast topology base removed from session  BGP Notification sent

Log when ISP did a shut/no shut to reset BGP on their side

172542: May  6 15:04:15: %LINEPROTO-5-UPDOWN: Line protocol on Interface GigabitEthernet2/0/49, changed state to down
172543: May  6 15:04:16: %LINK-3-UPDOWN: Interface GigabitEthernet2/0/49, changed state to down
172544: May  6 15:04:16: %PIM-5-NBRCHG: neighbor xxx.xxx.12.34 DOWN on interface GigabitEthernet2/0/49 non DR
172545: May  6 15:04:16: %PIM-5-NBRCHG: neighbor xxx.xxx.12.34 UP on interface GigabitEthernet2/0/49 
172546: May  6 15:04:16: %PIM-5-DRCHG: DR change from neighbor to xxx.xxx.12.35 on interface GigabitEthernet2/0/49
172547: May  6 15:04:18: %LINK-3-UPDOWN: Interface GigabitEthernet2/0/49, changed state to up
172548: May  6 15:04:19: %LINEPROTO-5-UPDOWN: Line protocol on Interface GigabitEthernet2/0/49, changed state to up

Log when the BGP connection finally went from idle to Up

172828: May  6 15:27:33: %BGP-5-ADJCHANGE: neighbor xxx.xxx.12.34 Up

BGP interface on our end (note: no CRC, drops, collisions reported...)

GigabitEthernet2/0/49 is up, line protocol is up (connected)
Hardware is Gigabit Ethernet, address is xxxx.xxxx
Internet address is xxx.xxx.12.35/31
MTU 1500 bytes, BW 1000000 Kbit/sec, DLY 10 usec,
reliability 255/255, txload 1/255, rxload 3/255
Encapsulation ARPA, loopback not set
Keepalive not set
Full-duplex, 1000Mb/s, link type is auto, media type is 1000BaseLX SFP
input flow-control is off, output flow-control is unsupported
ARP type: ARPA, ARP Timeout 04:00:00
Last input 00:00:09, output 00:00:12, output hang never
Last clearing of "show interface" counters never
Input queue: 0/75/52/0 (size/max/drops/flushes); Total output drops: 0
Queueing strategy: fifo
Output queue: 0/40 (size/max)
5 minute input rate 14536000 bits/sec, 1655 packets/sec
5 minute output rate 1010000 bits/sec, 640 packets/sec
413176726 packets input, 428902543141 bytes, 0 no buffer
Received 143495 broadcasts (0 IP multicasts)
0 runts, 0 giants, 0 throttles
0 input errors, 0 CRC, 0 frame, 0 overrun, 0 ignored
0 watchdog, 139275 multicast, 0 pause input
0 input packets with dribble condition detected
125748632 packets output, 42915625632 bytes, 0 underruns
0 output errors, 0 collisions, 0 interface resets
0 unknown protocol drops
0 babbles, 0 late collision, 0 deferred
0 lost carrier, 0 no carrier, 0 pause output
0 output buffer failures, 0 output buffers swapped out
  • There's no mention whether the 2 BGP peers are directly connected or not. If there's any other device between them, a host of other possible issues could be generated by them.
    – noaru
    May 7, 2013 at 22:36
  • retagged as cisco-3750 as the 3700 is an older model router. The Catalyst switches are 3750. May 8, 2013 at 0:09
  • @noaru the 2 BGP peers are directly connected.
    – John Lee
    May 8, 2013 at 21:18

4 Answers 4


172259: May 6 14:43:06: %BGP-3-NOTIFICATION: sent to neighbor xxx.xxx.12.34 4/0 (hold time expired) 0 bytes

That generally means the other side of the connection did not respond to any keepalives within the hold timer (default 180 seconds). There are a variety of issues that could have caused this. Usually its a layer3 reachability issue. If it happens again, you should rule out layer3 issue by testing to the peer via ping and telnet (telnet to port 179, see if it responds).

If its not a layer3 reachability issue, then there was a problem with one end of the neighborship (more likely the far side in this case).


If you're simply looking to 'root cause' this issue:

You might want to ask your provider if there were any configuration changes being made on their end immediately before this occurred. There are instances on Cisco routers (not 100% sure what code rev at the moment) where BGP sessions will flap when one side removes and re-adds a "route-map" with an "mpls-ip" and/or an "mtu" configuration in the BGP peering. Although that kind of maintenance shouldn't cause problems with the peering session, I have heard tale of this happening.

Also, I'm not certain they would have needed to go as far as to drop the interface and bring it back up to 'fix' the issue. I think simply resetting the peering session would have sufficed, but if there was no traffic being passed at the time of the failure, one could argue that it doesn't matter that they dropped the interface to get things rolling again.

  • Haven't heard of resetting peering session. Is it similar to what's mentioned here? link Also, is it something I can do on our end to reset the connection?
    – John Lee
    May 7, 2013 at 21:23
  • 1
    Its just a simple 'clear ip bgp nei xx.xx.xx.xx', also known as 'clearing the session'. It simply resets the BGP neighborship (hard clear brings the session down and re-establishes it). May 7, 2013 at 21:25
  • Quick question: does the 'clear ip bgp nei' need to be done on the ISP end or could we have initiated it as well?
    – John Lee
    May 7, 2013 at 21:42
  • Either end can initiate clearing the session. Sometimes when "strange" things are happening, like the case here, it is worth it to try it on both ends. I would do each end one at a time, simply for the sake of troubleshooting.
    – GoatAtWork
    May 7, 2013 at 22:07
  • It's worth mentioning that you can do a soft reset (just add the 'soft' keyword at the end of the command) - it forces re-sending updates without tearing down the connection (and the neighbor relationship).
    – noaru
    May 7, 2013 at 22:31

It could be an MTU problem. Had this a while ago. Starts up fine but when an UPDATE with a lot of routes is received it gets lost due to MTU mismatch. Also if you have L2 devices (switch? media converter?) between your two routers it could be possible that the connection is interrupted without the interface going down.


Not from what I'm seeing. Your ISP's router quit responding to the hello messages from your router, which is why you lost your BGP connection. It's also possible that your router quit listening to the hello messages from the ISP, but I'm not seeing anything obvious in the messages that would help pinpoint the issue. Maybe someone more focused on the ISP track can comment and shed some light?

  • You mean keepalives, not hello messages - this is BGP, not OSPF.
    – Niels
    May 7, 2013 at 23:31
  • Thanks, yes. I get a little jumbled sometimes. May 20, 2013 at 21:38

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.