Hands-On Experience with Windows Server 2012???

bbugyi200bbugyi200 Member Posts: 15 ■□□□□□□□□□
Hello All,

I have just recently acquired my CCNA, and am thinking about going down the MCSA route now to broaden my knowledge a bit.

Based on good reviews, I am probably going to go with Mark Minasi's "Mastering Windows Server 2012 R2".

How am I supposed to get hands-on lab experience though??? With my CCNA I spent about 1000$ on lab gear so I could have everything I needed to work on actual equipment in parallel with my CCNA studies. Is there a similar option for the MCSA: Windows Server 2012 exams?

Should I buy a copy of Windows Server 2012, or is there a cheaper way to get the same benefits? For the best learning environment, I need a hands-on experience. What are my options here?

Thanks for taking the time to help me out! Its appreciated! :)


  • nachodbanachodba USMember Posts: 201 ■■■□□□□□□□
    Are you a student? You could potentially get a dreamspark account (https://www.dreamspark.com/) if you have a .edu email address. Also, they offer trials for WS2012 through TechNet that are good for 120 days.
    Try Windows Server 2012 R2 | TechNet Evaluation Center

    Also if your machine can handle it download a copy of virtualbox and create some virtual machines.
    2020 Goals
    work-life balance
  • LucidityLucidity Registered Users Posts: 1 ■□□□□□□□□□
    You could try creating a trial Azure account: Microsoft Azure Free Trial: Try Azure | Azure Free Trial $200 credit for 1 month. It's enough to create a few demo machines to work with. There are other cloud providers out there that don't charge as much as Microsoft so have a look around. Since you spent a grand on hardware to study for your ccna, if you're willing to spend a bit more, shop around (ebay) for some hardware with plenty of disk, cpu and memory. I believe that VMware still offers a free version of esx version 4 maybe, I don't remember. Anyway, I'd seen quite a few on ebay that fit the bill for less than $300. Honestly though the cloud route is the best one just remember to turn off the VM's when you're done with them so you aren't getting billed for compute time when you're not using them.
  • YetAnotherITGuyYetAnotherITGuy Member Posts: 21 ■□□□□□□□□□
    If you plan to MCSA, I'd consider building a decent home lab, even though you may spend a little extra. You will eventually spend quite a bit on online labs, but with a home lab, whatever you buy stays with you as long-term investment and you can probably get tax breaks too.
  • TechGuru80TechGuru80 Member Posts: 1,539 ■■■■■■□□□□
    R2 Standard runs about $700 plus 5 CALs run about $150ish. From my understanding you still have to purchase CALs for Dreamspark but I haven't received my equipment yet to try it out. Depends on how elaborate of a setup you want. If you got a nice setup you could always use the system later to virtualize your Cisco lab.
  • ajs1976ajs1976 Member Posts: 1,945 ■■■■□□□□□□
    use a spare computer to install the eval or if you have a powerful laptop install a hypervisor and build a vm. when the eval expires, blow way the vms and reinstall.

    google microsoft virtual academy for some other options to practice.

    2020 Goals: 0 of 2 courses complete, 0 of 2 exams complete
  • cyberguyprcyberguypr Senior Member Mod Posts: 6,927 Mod
    ^ yep. I've built my labs and my career on trial software. You get good at backing up, rebuilding, and restoring. Keeps cash free for other toys.
  • lsud00dlsud00d Member Posts: 1,571
    Confirming the above, no reason to buy the OS if you are just labbing. It's free for 180 days.
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