For those who homelab without using Sims like Boson & NetSim, what's your game plan?

dontstopdontstop Member Posts: 579 ■■■■□□□□□□
I currently do most of my labbing through using CPT, NetSim & Boson. I have some physical gear but I generally only use that when what I'm trying to do isn't possible on the Sims. I'd like to start using my gear more because I feel I'm starting to become a little too detached from the reality of setting up the equipment even to the point of resenting it (it's so much easier to just fire up PCT/GNS3 and throw in equipment and off you go).

For those who frequently homelab using real equipment, what's your game plan for labbing? One thing I've realised is the importance of diagrams when moving to a physical lab as you lack the logical layout the Sims give you. In order to keep my head straight I need to sketch it out.

But what are you building on your physical lab?
Does your lab have a standard base configuration that you work off?
Are you rebuilding the lab each time for different configurations?


  • Uriah7Uriah7 Member Posts: 45 ■■□□□□□□□□

    I passed my CCENT with just my home lab and Todd Lammle's CCENT study guide (100-105). I have been studying for the CCNA for the past 3 months and I have been using my home lab along with the practice labs available at It has been incredible compared to the way I studied for the CCENT. ITProTV has partnered with in order to create a simulator that is simulating a fairly large and complex (to me) set of networks. According to ITProTV's EULA, I cannot post a picture of the network diagram that their simulator works off of, but they allow you to work with real equipment and you are simply remotely logging in. I setup my home lab (4 routers and 3 switches) to mirror the portion of ITProTV's simulated network that most of the labs work with. I then follow their labs and use my home lab instead of their simulator (although the simulator is great). I do this because I noticed that the simulator resets configurations every time a new lab is started. This is the biggest mistake people make while studying for Cisco exams. They reset their configurations and start fresh for each lab. Doing this eliminates the headache of cleaning up the configuration and struggling through figuring out why something isn't working correctly because you changed K values on an interface 5 labs ago, or you setup an ACL 7 labs ago.

    I suggest that you sign up for the ITProTV 7 day trial, navigate to their CCNA 200-105 course, and at the top you will see the "practice labs" button. Take a picture of their topology, print their labs (The EULA allows for this as long as you are signed up), setup your home-lab based on their topology and never delete your running config. Keep it and struggle to fix it as you move from lab to lab. It has been very helpful for me and I think that I am well prepared just by following this procedure. Also, the labs that ITProTV has available follow the exact set of Exam Objectives located on Cisco's website. It is geared toward preparing you for exactly what will be on the exam.

    I wrote this post in reference to the 200-105 exam, but of course, this advice works for the CCENT exam as well if that is what you are studying for. Let me know if you have any more questions.
  • WastedHatWastedHat Member Posts: 132 ■■■□□□□□□□
    I always had very minimal configs and built from those each time, it's a bit long winded but it helped me learn the commands and defaults. Even once I got something working I would "copy start run" and start from a clean config. I only have 2 routers and 2 switches so it never got complicated. What are you using in your home lab?
  • Jon_CiscoJon_Cisco Member Posts: 1,772 ■■■■■■■■□□
    I used my home lab to get a good feel for how to really set up equipment. Looking at a new network rack is confusing and you don't want the first time to be in a job interview. I think you learn the most from a lab when you are buying it and setting it up.

    For testing concepts and learning theory is easier done on simulators. I used packet tracer a lot for basic configs and CCNA level study. I used GNS3 when I wanted to test commands that were not available in packet tracer.

    Good Luck!
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