Packet Tracer is a powerful network simulator that can be utilized in training for CCNA and CCNP certification exam by allowing students to create networks with an almost unlimited number of devices and to experience troubleshooting without having to buy real Cisco routers or switches.


Packet Tracer is a cross-platform visual simulation tool designed by Cisco Systems that allows users to create network topologies and imitate modern computer networks. The software allows users to simulate the configuration of Cisco routers and switches using a simulated command line interface. Packet Tracer makes use of a drag and drop user interface, allowing users to add and remove simulated network devices as they see fit. The software is mainly focused towards Certified Cisco Network Associate Academy students as an educational tool for helping them learn fundamental CCNA concepts. Students enrolled in a CCNA Academy program can freely download and use the tool free of charge for educational use.


In addition to simulating certain aspects of computer networks, Packet Tracer can also be used for collaboration. As of Packet Tracer 5.0, Packet Tracer supports a multi-user system that enables multiple users to connect multiple topologies together over a computer network. Packet Tracer also allows instructors to create activities that students have to complete. Packet Tracer is often used in educational settings as a learning aid. Cisco Systems claims that Packet Tracer is useful for network experimentation.




Before I forget, I want you to know that Cisco Packet Tracer is one of my favorite simulator when it comes to computer networking studies. I have found it so much helpful and I hope you find it helpful too.


This is a step-by-step process from getting the application file to configuring your first device.


Before we can start our installation you need the application file for Cisco Packet Tracer. Usually the Cisco Packet Tracer is only available for Cisco Networking Academy students but you can get it online.



This is the time I ask you flex your google search muscles and search engine skills and search for Cisco Packet Tracer. It is my recommendation that you search for Cisco PT version 6.1.1 student version, it will serve you well and you will be able to do all your practicals with this application. It is show below.


To begin the installation process, double-click the application above and you will be presented with the following screen.

On the welcome screen, click the Next button to continue.

On the License Agreement screen, choose the option “I accept the agreement” and the press Next to continue.

On the “Select Destination Location” screen, leave it the way it is and press the Next button to continue with the installation.

When you click next in the previous step, you may be presented with the screen above if you had already installed Cisco PT and uninstalled it without removing the installation folder. If it is your first time installing Cisco PT on your machine, then you may not see the screen above. Click on Yes to continue.

On the “Select Additional Tasks”, you may choose all the options or leave it the way it is which I have done here. Click on the Next button to continue.


On the “Ready to Install” screen you are presented with the summary of the options that you have chosen and now all you need to do is click on the Install button to begin the installation, so click on the Install button to begin the installation process.



Now Cisco PT is Installing, give it one or two minute to finish to install and after the installation is complete, you will be presented with the following screen.


Click OK to continue.


Check the Checkbox “Launch Cisco Packet Tracer” (which is the default) and then click on Finish button to finish/complete the installation and then launch Cisco Packet Tracer application.


And there you have it. We have successfully installed Cisco Packet Tracer and now we are ready to see how to use it next.


Now let’s see how to use Cisco PT. First let us familiarize ourselves with the interface.


Even though there is a lot to learn about Cisco Packet Tracer interface and how to use it, there are only a few places that you will be dealing with on a day-to-day basis and they are as follows:

The Main Menu

The Main Menu contains the following:

  1. 1.    File
  2. 2.    Edit
  3. 3.    Options
  4. 4.    View
  5. 5.    Tools
  6. 6.    Extensions
  7. 7.    Help



The one you will be using most of all is the File where you can save and open new projects among other things.

Main Toolbar

It contains more of the most commonly used items in one place such as the New project, Open, Save, Print, Copy, Paste, Undo, Redo, Zoom In, Zoom Out, and others


Logical Toolbar


Scenario Box


PDU List Window



Now to the most important items on Cisco Packet Tracer


Common Toolbar

In This toolbar you will find

  1. 1.    The Select Button
  2. 2.    Move Layout
  3. 3.    Place Note
  4. 4.    Delete
  5. 5.    Inspect
  6. 6.    Draw
  7. 7.    Resize Shape
  8. 8.    Add a Simple PDU
  9. 9.    Add a complex PDU


Devices Option

This is the most important part. It contains the following devices:

  1. 1.    Routers
  2. 2.    Switches
  3. 3.    Hubs
  4. 4.    Wireless Devices
  5. 5.    Connections
  6. 6.    End Devices
  7. 7.    Security
  8. 8.    WAN Emulation
  9. 9.    Custom Made Devices
  10. 10.                       Multiuser Connection


Now, when you click on any of the device in the Device option area, it brings you all the available devices in that category. For example, the Routers option is the one selected by default, now if you watch at the “Specific Device Option” area you will see all kinds of routers supported in this version of Cisco Packet Tracer.



The same case with all other devices. If you want to select a given model of a switch available here, you click on the Switch Icon in the Device option area and then all the models of switches appear in the “Specific Devices option” and then you select the switch that you need.




Once you have started the application, go the File and click on save to save your first new project as shown below



After clicking on the Save button, you are presented with the screen that will ask you into which folder you will save your project and at the same time the name for your project, in the following example I have saved into the folder D:\CISCO PT PROJECTS and I have called the file “My First PT Project”, you can call it whatever you want.


Go to the “Devices Option” area and click on the switch icon, (if you don’t know how the switch icon appears, just move your mouse over the devices and it will show you the name). The on the “Specific Devices Option” area go  and select the 3560-24PS switch by clicking it once and then move to the work space (the wider area) are and click on the work space once and the switch will be posted there. Do this again so that you have two switches on the topology as shown below.


Now let us take some end user devices (PCs), four to be specific and put them in the topology area/work space. Go to the Device Option area and click on “End Devices”. Then go to the “Specific Devices Option” and choose either four laptops for now (these laptops are going to use wired Ethernet connection), you could have also chosen desktop computers but the laptops will do for this first lab as show in the figure below.


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