How To Build A Cisco CCNA Certification Home Lab

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A common question for new students to Cisco is how do I build a Cisco CCNA certification lab for my home so I can self-study. This question is at times a bit tricky. So I usually ask what is your budget. Why? Well, you want to build the best lab you can afford that provides you the most bang for your buck. As with most things in life, the more you spend the more bells and whistles you will get. Or in this case the more CCNA exam features you will be able to experience to help you prepare for your CCNA exam.

The first thing we at suggest is real routers. You just can't get the same experience from a simulator. There is not way to see what a router will do with a loose cable, one plugged in upside down, how one router impacts another if one is off or anything along those line. Not to mention experience playing with the different modules and being able to open up a router and see the actual components.

How Many Cisco Routers Do I Need?

Two routers really are required to see if anything works. If you have a very limited budget, you can receive value from only purchasing a single router over working with a simulator. However, you will not be able to see the main thing we are trying to accomplish. The propagation of route tables and the routing of data! The only way you can see if your configurations work, is to have at least two routers. That said, if you can afford a kit with more than two routers, it will enable you to exercise more complex scenarios. Therefore, I strongly recommend that you purchase a dual router kit or better that comes with all the accessories you need. Otherwise you can spend weeks trying to find all the little extra pieces you need to get your lab up and running. One router will give you the ability to run the commands on it and allow you to memorize the correct syntax and context in which to run the commands. Two routers will allow you to be able to see route table information propagate, data propagation and path election. In addition, you will see basic device elections. With three or more routers you will get all of the above and full device elections.

Another consideration is the amount of DRAM and Flash you have installed in your router. By maxing these out more than likely you will be able to run IPv6 which is covered on the new exam. For more info on this, you can see the many handy charts we have at our website.

The Cisco 2500s are serviceable routers for your CCNA studies still as long as you have the proper IOS and maxed out memory with all the accessories you need. You might say, but they are only 10mb routers. True, but they still work. The major drawback besides the aforementioned lack of SDM and 12.4 support is that with 10mb routers you can't do your inter-vlan routing labs with them. Again, please visit our site for very in-depth articles we have on this subject that will provide you all the ins and outs of what feature is available on what router. If you get confused, just use our Contact Us email method to get your answers!

Do you need a switch? Well it depends on your budget. But it is a good suggestion if you can afford it. As 20% of the exam covers switching. You don't want to fail the exam by one question because you neglected a switch in your lab.

I hope this article helps you get on the right track for your Cisco CCNA Certification Home Lab. Remember, if you have any questions, we will be happy to help!

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Go to CiscoKits for your free Cisco Certification training. Cisco CCNA, CCNP, and CCIE training along with many options for Cisco home lab certification kits!

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