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Ideal Home Lab for MCSE?

By jsfald ·
In the next few months I will start studying for the 2003 MCSA/MCSE certification. I want to set up a home lab to study with instead of paying thousands for someone else's lab.

What type of hardware and/or software would you recommend?

If I bought a certification book it might tell me there, but I haven't purchased a book yet. I'm sure someone has asked this before but I haven't found any reference to it. Thanks for your help.

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VMWARE OR MICROSOFT VIRTUAL PC IS THE WAY TO GO

by Why Me Worry? In reply to Ideal Home Lab for MCSE?

Save yourself the time and money of setting up a data center at home. Buy yourself VMWare or Microsoft's Virtual PC and setup an entire Virtual Win2K AD Environment on one PC. You will need plenty of RAM (4GB or more) on your PC and a big hard disk to store all of the images of the Operating Systems, but you will be able to run multiple virtual machines from one PC.

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RAM Price versus Network...

by setnaffa In reply to VMWARE OR MICROSOFT VIRTU ...

Buying a PC with the latest Intel or AMD CPU and 4GB RAM can be more expensive than your own lab with 6 older PCs capable of running W2K-P, W2k-S, W2K-AS, WXP-P, or WS2K3 (i.e., 6x "P3/500MHz, 128-256MB PC100 or PC133 RAM, 10+GB HD, CDROM, 10/100 NIC", 2x "5-port hub", 1x "4-port switch/broadband router" 8x "10-foot Cat 5 network cable", MS Eval software, Certification books, and a couple power strips from Walmart). You can buy a wheeled rack capable of storing all of your PCs (250 pounds per shelf, 4 shelves) at Sam's Club, Costco, Lowe's, or Home Depot for less than $75...

Go to eBay... I have found even buying components is cheaper if you have the time and skills to take a whack at gluing things together yourself...

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100% agree

by Scott Lowe Contributor In reply to VMWARE OR MICROSOFT VIRTU ...

I used to have a bunch of systems at home set up in a lab. Now, I have one monster machine and another lower end unit as a spare in the event I need a physical machine for something. I use VMware Workstation 5 for almost all of my article writing. The great part: with snapshots and quick undo capability, I can play all I want and be able to recover very quickly. Better yet, it's all in one place, on one system, with a single keyboard and mouse, which my wife really likes a lot better than PCs strewn about the house. It cost a bit for the hefty machine, and I'll be replacing it in the next few weeks. Having actually worked in both environments (a full lab vs. a virtual lab), I can safely say that a virtual lab completely blows away having a bunch of computers. I wrote some articles about VMware Workstation 5 for TechRepublic recently. It has some features (snapshots, shared memory), that make it really compelling for a home lab environment.

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Couldn't find a reference???

by dwiemann In reply to Ideal Home Lab for MCSE?

You couldn't find a reference to this anywhere? I just asked the same thing last week.

I've posted the same question to a few other sites too and had some very good advice that I'm going to use. Some say to just use the several PCs that I have now w/at least 128MB of RAM. After that, I'm going to sell all that junk to make some room. Then I'll use some kind of mulit-OS-running program on my current 4 month-old PC. It will be either VMWare, Virtual Server, or some other that I forgot the name of. At that point I will double my RAM up to 2GB because they use quite a lot. That should be when Longhorn comes out so I can justify buying a new PC and using this one to keep current on Server 2003/Red Hat/Longhorn Server/etc while I consolidate all this old junk to just one PC.

See:
Home Lab Requirements for MCSE 2003
April 19, 2005

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build your own

by CG IT In reply to Couldn't find a reference ...

The recommended specs for Windows 2000 and Windows 2003 servers should be more that adequate in building a test network in which to practice configurating a network with the MCSE certification in mind.

I use 5 comps. 3 of them are servers, one is a work station one, I use for remote access.

The servers all run AMD Athlon XP 1800 processors with 512 MB memory with 20 GB drives. I use a MSI KMVM mainboard [cheap. Don't need anything fancy and expensive for a test network in which to study on.

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A little different spin

by jsfald In reply to Couldn't find a reference ...

I did read one discusstion you started on this site when you asked about some computers you purchased at an auction. I hoped to have asked this question in a different way than the discussion you started.

It seems the ideal home lab depends on your priorites (cost, space, etc) and your preferences.

Thank you everyone for your suggestions. The details that you gave will be helpful in helping me build my own lab.

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