Packet Tracer Introduction | Download, install & learn how to use Packet Tracer

In this article, we will introduce Packet Tracer; a simulation software that facilitates the setup of a network lab, enabling hands-on practice in configuring network devices such as routers, switches, and PCs as if they were real-world devices.

In information technology, practical experience is important. In CCNA, it involves hands-on practice configuring Cisco routers and switches.

There are various ways to create a lab environment for the CCNA, and one option is to invest in real Cisco switches and routers. However, these physical devices can be costly, making them unaffordable for many.

Fortunately, Cisco offers Packet Tracer, a free and easy-to-use software that enables the simulation and practice of configuring network devices.

Packet Tracer provides a virtual environment where network devices are simulated, offering a practical platform for configuring and experimenting with network setups.

This article will guide you on how to download, install, and use the Packet Tracer software for effective hands-on learning in network device configuration.

Downloading Packet tracer

You can download packet tracer for free from Once you visit the website, you will be asked to sign into your account or create new one.

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Sign into your cisco account

Once you have signed into your account, you will see the option to download packet tracer from the bottom of the page.

Download packet tracer

Download the latest version for your operating system and install it just like other software.

How to use Packet tracer

After installing the packet tracer you downloaded, you will find the shortcut to open it from the desktop (or search for “packet tracer”) in your window search bar.

Once you open your newly installed packet tracer, you will be prompted to login to your Cisco account again. Make sure you select “Keep me logged in” so that you don’t have to repeat logging in every time you open the software.

After you have successfully opened the software, you will be greeted with an interface that looks like this:

An image of packet tracer blank simulation window

This section is going to be a basic introduction to how to get started using a packet tracer. We will not go deep into showing you how you use the packet software. If you are curious to learn in detail, you can take Cisco’s course on how to use the packet tracer. The course is about 3 hours.

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Packet Tracer Preferences

After opening packet tracer, there are few things that you might want to set up. One of them is to customize your preferences. The preferences allows you to customize user experience by enabling some features on the software.

You can find the preferences in packet tracer by going to options>preferences or pressing “CTRL + R” on your computer.

A few of the changes I make are interface customization and a change in the font size for better zoom.

Interface customization…

interface customization

You can increase the font size of the display by going to preferences>font

customize the font size of the display

Creating Network Topology in packet tracer

For any lab practice, the first thing is to create the network topology that is needed for the lab. Packet Tracer has a variety of network equipment that simulates real-world network devices. Also, there are some tools used to delete, zoom, write notes, and do many other things.

Adding network Devices to packet tracer

You can add network devices like routers, switches and hub to the simulation window from bottom left corner of the page.

Adding a router to the network

adding a router to the network

Adding a switch to the network;

adding a switch to the network

Adding End devices

End devices, also called terminal equipment, are located at the bottom left corner of the page. An end device can be a PC, a laptop, a server, etc.

adding end devices to the network

Joining Network devices with cables

Network cables are used to join one network device to another so that they can communicate.
There are many different types of network cables. We have copper straight-through cable, cross-over cable, serial cable, etc. Each of these cable types has different application. We will discuss about it in our next post.

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network cables

Other Tools

There are other tools that can come in handy for formatting our network. They are located at the top left corner of the simulation window.

other tools


Recreate the following network in your packet tracer

network topology for excercise

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