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CCNA Home Labs Revisited

Update: CBT Nuggets now has both CCENT/CCNA ICDN1 100-105 and ICDN2 200-105 training available online. Happy training, and good luck!

Building a CCNA home lab can be a daunting task. Which is the right gear? Are GNS3 and VIRL worthwhile? Will my CCNA lab be useful for CCNP preparation? Cisco guru and trainer Jeremy Cioara recently offered some of his tried-and-true solutions in his latest webinar, “Building a CCNA Home Lab.”

Check out Jeremy’s recommendations and answers to questions below:

Do I need GNS3 or Cisco VIRL? It’s a great learning tool… but no, you need to see networking really in action. The purpose of setting up a home lab accomplishes that!

What do I need to get started? Buy a cheap router! Using these routers, you can convert your home network to a Cisco-based network, and gain valuable real world experience.

Any of the following routers are affordable and can help you learn the material:

  • Cisco 2611(xm) / 2621(xm)    ($10-$50)
  • Cisco 1721 w/WIC-1ENET    ($10-$50)
  • Cisco 871(w)                          ($10-$50)

Which switch do I need? These are all 100-megabit switches. For just a few more dollars, buy a Layer 3 switch such as Cisco 3550 or 3750. These will be useful for moving onto your CCNP, and even CCIE, certification journey.

  • Cisco 2950 ($10-20)
  • Cisco 3550 ($20-$50)
  • Cisco 3750 ($50-$150)

Whats the ideal CCNA lab setup? Three routers, three switches, and two laptops. That’s all that Cisco requires for you to set up a network for the CCNA. Moving onto the CCNP and CCIE, you should be able to use the same gear and only need to add a router or two. The only time this topology won’t work is for specific things like private VLANS, IPv6, or IOS 15.

Anything else I’ll need? A mission! Have a plan and steps that you want to accomplish. Set up a home network! That’s a great place to start, and all you need is a router and a switch. Another great goal is to watch CBT Nuggets training, and complete the labs just like in the videos!


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  1. Frank Diaz says:

    dumb question but how could i set this up if i have a comcast cable router/switch/AP device that they provide and config the access to.?

  2. John Romdahl says:

    Frank, I was just looking for this answer myself. I have a Verizon issued router. Would I replace it with the Cisco router or plug the Cisco router to the VZ issued router?

  3. Lenny Grossmann says:

    If you have Verizon Fios TV, then you’d have to bridge your Fios Router

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