As you can see from my article list, I’m going through some VRF configuration in the last few weeks ūüôā

I ran into this today and it sounded interesting enough to share it with you. The issue with TFTP IOS image copy to flash when having all interfaces in specific VRF and no interface in Global Routing Table.

Long story short, you kick in this command for normal IOS download to the router:

R1#copy tftp:// flash:
Destination filename [c890-universalk9-mz.154-3.M5.bin]? 
Accessing tftp://
%Error opening tftp:// (Timed out)

…and it isn’t working of course.

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VRF – Virtual Routing and Forwarding

Ever needed one extra router? It’s possible to split the router into more logical routers by using VRF. How? Here’s how!

Virtual Routing and Forwarding or VRF allows a router to run more that one routing table simultaneously. When running more routing tables in the same time, they are completely independent. For example, you could use overlapping IP addresses inside more VRFs on the same router and they will function independently without conflict (You can see this kind of overlap in the example below). It is possible to use same VRF instance on more routers and connect every instance separately using VRF dedicated router port or only a sub-interface.

You can find VRFs to be used on ISP side. Provider Edge (PE) routers are usually running one VRF per customer VPN so that one router can act as a PE router for multiple Customer Edge (CE) routers even with more customers exchanging the same subnets across the VPN. By running VRF per customer, those subnets will never mix in-between them.

VRFs are used to create multiple virtual routers from one physical router.

Every VRF is creating his own Routing table and CEF table, basically a separate RIB and FIB.

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Static Route Load Balance

How it works?

If you have two routers / two Layer3 switches connected with two L3 links (two paths) you can route with two equal static routes towards the same prefix and the router will load balance traffic across both links.

The idea is to make two same static routes on the same router but with different next-hops. The question was: Which link or which route will be used? And if the traffic will be load balanced, which mechanism will be used to share the traffic across both of links.

static route load balancing


ip route
ip route

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What is route recursion

We are going back to networking basics with this post. In few lines below you will find most important theory that makes network gear do its job.

The main router job is to making routing decisions to be able to route packets toward their destination. Sometimes that includes recursive lookup of routing table if the next-hop value is not available via connected interface.

Routing decision on end devices

Lets have a look at routing decision that happens if we presume that we have a PC connected on our Ethernet network.

If one device wants to send a packet to another device, it first needs to find an answer to these questions:

  • Is maybe the destination IP address chunk of local subnet IP range?
    • If that is true, packet will be forwarded to the neighbour device using Layer 2 in the ARP example below.
    • If that is not the case, does the device network card configuration include a router address through which that destination can¬†be reached? (default gateway)
  • Device then looks at his local ARP table. Does it include a MAC address associated with the destination¬†IP address?
    • If the destination is not part of the local subnet, does the local ARP table contain¬†the MAC address of the nearest router? (MAC address to IP address mapping of default gateway router)