How to reset a Cisco Catalyst Express 500 switch

Ever find yourself needing to reset a Cisco Catalyst Express 500 switch to factory defaults? Even though they’re pretty bad devices and have no CLI? Yeah, me too. I needed one for it’s PoE ports.

Cisco has a support doc here walking you through the process:
If you have access to the CE 500’s Device Manager, then you’re golden. Just use the software reset via the web interface.

If you DON’T have access to the Device Manager, read on.

As of this writing, that doc was last updated in June of 2008, and in the years that passed since, Cisco failed to update it with one important detail. If you don’t already have access to the Device Manager, You must use a Windows XP machine.

Apparently, this is due to DHCP implementation on Windows 7. On a Windows 7 machine, you’ll never get past the DHCP Discover phase in the DHCP process.

After capturing packets in Wireshark on the Windows 7 client, after the client sends a DHCP Discover packet, the Catalyst doesn’t respond with a DHCP Offer. It appeares that the CE 500 doesn’t like Windows 7’s DHCP Discover packet,  and so it never responds.

On XP, it works just fine though. Take care when noting your IP address, I got a address via DHCP from the switch, not the as in the Cisco doc. At first, this made me think that IP was APIPA from Windows XP, and I started all over again. On the second go-round, I noticed the default gateway of, which of course does not happen with APIPA. After that, it was all textbook.


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