Access Mode vs Trunk Mode
In this article, we will refer only to the Cisco platform switches like Catalyst series.
As a general case, freshers in networking domain (like CCNA aspirants etc.) tend to come across TRUNK and ACCESS terminologies in Switching.
In most of Cisco switches, switchports are configured in “dynamic desirable” mode by default. This means if we connect devices, it will negotiate to form a trunk.
We can custom set switchports as either trunk or access mode since by letting default setting in place (the “dynamic desirable”), there will be less control on switch port behaviour.
Trunk ports are generally used in the switch to switch communication or switch to Router (Router on a stick). Trunks carry multiple Vlans across devices and maintain VLAN tags in Ethernet frames for receiving directly connected device differentiates between different Vlans.
Access ports are part of only one VLAN and normally used for terminating end devices likes PC, Laptop and printer.
Using the “Switchport mode access” command forces the port to be an access port while and any device plugged into this port will only be able to communicate with other devices that are in the same VLAN.
Using the “Switchport mode trunk” command forces the port to be trunk port.
Comparison Table : Access Mode vs Trunk Mode
Below table describes the difference between Trunk port and Access port mode on Cisco Switches-
|A trunk port can carry traffic in one or more VLANs on the same physical link. Trunked ports differentiate Vlans by either adding a tag to the packet (802.1Q) or encapsulation the packet (ISL).
|Access ports are part of only one VLAN and normally used for terminating end devices likes PC, Laptop and printer.
|Default Behavior (Cisco Switches)
|By default, a trunk interface can carry traffic for all VLANs.
|By default, an access port carries only one VLAN
|To designate a port to a trunk mode -
“Switchport mode trunk”
|To designate a port to access mode -
“Switchport mode access”
|Switch to Switch connectivity
Switch to Router (When using Router on a Stick or dot1q trunk)
Switch to Server (specific cases only especially in VM technology)
|Switch to PC/laptop
Switch to Printer
Switch to Router
Note - This is typical standard procedure when such switch port serves end users such as PC, printer, or servers.
|Port configured in Trunk mode will carry VLAN tags
|Port configured in Access mode will not carry VLAN tags (stripped of VLAN tags)
|Show Vlan brief
show interface x/x switchport
|Show interface trunk
show interface x/x switchport
Download the difference table here.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
I am here to share my knowledge and experience in the field of networking with the goal being – “The more you share, the more you learn.”
I am a biotechnologist by qualification and a Network Enthusiast by interest. I developed interest in networking being in the company of a passionate Network Professional, my husband.
I am a strong believer of the fact that “learning is a constant process of discovering yourself.”
– Rashmi Bhardwaj (Author/Editor)