Preparing to start studying for ICND1 and 2

jah8887jah8887 Member Posts: 81 ■■■□□□□□□□
Hi all,
I am starting to prepare for taking my CCNA.  My CEO has offered to buy me a physical lab (as long as its reasonably priced).  I have seen kits on Ebay and training sites but wanted to get some ideas from everyone.  I also have looked at some training materials but would like advice of where to begin.


  • Jon_CiscoJon_Cisco Member Posts: 1,772 ■■■■■■■■□□
    If your boss is willing to buy the kit try to get one with layer 3 switches. They cost a little more but it will last you longer. It's been a little to long for me to give specifics but I started with a two router and two switch lab then added a few devices to it.

    You learn a lot with physical equipment but understand you can do it all in packet tracer. I did 90% of my study in packet tracer and the rest was GNS3 and physical.

    Good Luck!
  • AvgITGeekAvgITGeek Member Posts: 342 ■■■■□□□□□□
    edited February 2019
    You can get a few 1841 routers on the cheap. Make sure you check the size of the flash to be sure you can run ios 15. Memory for these devices are cheap enough. While you don't need layer 3 switches, if you can swing it, go for it. I'd get as much future proofing as you can get away with. Them paying for a hardware lab must be for future certifications or they want you to get your hands on gear. One can pretty much use Packet Tracer for the CCNA. 

    Check cables and kits dot com. I've been shopping with them for years. No faulty equipment, they have a great return policy (from what I've heard) and you get free M&Ms!

  • jah8887jah8887 Member Posts: 81 ■■■□□□□□□□
    Yeah, they would like me to get my cert since they are looking at investing in me.  I will check out the cables and kits dot com site and see what else I can get for future proofing further down the road.  I will grab packet tracer also and I do already have GNS 3 installed but haven't dug deep into it yet.
  • jah8887jah8887 Member Posts: 81 ■■■□□□□□□□
    What do you guys think about this for a lab?  Only question was I wondered if I could get the 1841's down in price.
  • AvgITGeekAvgITGeek Member Posts: 342 ■■■■□□□□□□
    edited February 2019
    Looks like those switches will run IOS 15. I got that from a post on Cisco learning network:

    The cheapest used Cisco switch that will run 15.x IOS is the  WS-C3560-24TS-S.  You can't download IOS 15.x from the support website for that switch...but it's a universal image.  That's the model of switch that INE uses in their rack rentals for the CCIEv5.

    Please do your own checking. The memory may or may not support it.
  • LunchbocksLunchbocks Member Posts: 319 ■■■■□□□□□□
    I bought a lab and I love it. To me it makes a huge difference between using a virtual lab and real devices. My lab is:
    1. Cisco 3560-TS 48-port layer 3 switches x 3.
    2. Cisco 1841 256/64 routers (with smart serial cards) x 3
    3. Cisco 2511 16/16 access server.
    You want to make sure you get 15.1 IOS's. Some of the commands, such as "show ip interfaces brief"  won't work on earlier IOS versions.

    I bought my lab through It might be a little more than going through eBay, but I got a CD with all versions of the IOS for the switches and routers (12.1 through 15.1), a CD with study materials, virtual labs, and practice exams, all connecting cables, a large lab book, a subnetting lab book, and a warranty. My 1841 routers cost $75.00 each and the switches were $99.00.

    I have bought Cisco gear through eBay in the past and lost bids. Plus, on eBay I have been told I would get a certain version of the IOS and end up getting a much earlier version. I have been very happy with this company and will continue to use them as I continue to upgrade my certifications.

    Hope this helps.

    Degree: Liberty University - B.S Computer Science (In Progress)
    Current Certs: CCENT | MCTS | Network+
    Currently Working On: Security+
    2020 Goals: CCNA, CCNP Security, Linux+

  • GDainesGDaines Member Posts: 273 ■■■□□□□□□□
    You want to make sure you get 15.1 IOS's. Some of the commands, such as "show ip interfaces brief"  won't work on earlier IOS versions.
    Virtually all my kit at least started with IOS 12.2 and that command worked on them. IOS 15.0 can be found for most devices with two caveats to bare in mind:
    1. The PoE version of 10/100 3560 switches only have 16mb FLASH and so can't run 15.0, so you'll either have to run 12.2 or buy the non-PoE TS versions. 3560G gigabit switches have 32mb FLASH and so will run 15.0.
    2. I think it might be 15.2 that the way IOS is licensed changed dramatically so avoid this otherwise you'll likely be stuck with a limited IOS or a very costly upgrade.

    Expanding on point 2, If you buy a bunch of the same model switches, let's say WS-C3560-24TS-S for example, and one comes with IOS 15.0 but the others all have 12.2 installed, you can upgrade the older ones by backing up the 15.0 image to a TFTP server and restoring it to the other switches. Only do this if they're the same family/model, i.e. all 3560 or all 2960 switches - do not try to install 3560G IOS onto an older 3560.
  • GoldenarmsGoldenarms Member Posts: 7 ■■□□□□□□□□
    I pieced my lab together for about 100 bucks. My last company was getting rid of some 3560 48 port switches and I asked them if I could buy them. They sold them to me for 30 each!! I got an 1841 router from ebay for 15 bucks. I slowly pieced everything I had together over time.
  • GDainesGDaines Member Posts: 273 ■■■□□□□□□□
    jah8887 said:
    What do you guys think about this for a lab?  Only question was I wondered if I could get the 1841's down in price.
    Labbing is addictive, you'll start with a few bits of kit and before you know it you'll expand your setup with more and more devices so you can do more things.

    3 years ago when I started I always stood by the belief that buying 50-series (3550) switches was silly when newer, better featured 60-series (2960, 3560) were barely any more expensive. I've not bought kit for some time so don't know whether anything newer is affordable yet, but in my mind the 3560 you're looking at is a more sensible start (than something even older). However, while my first router was an 1841, I soon learned that 2811's offer better expansion and are therefore a better buy, so I soon added 4 of those. And as for the stand, forget it! I started with a proper 12U rack which didn't take long to fill, so when a 24U rack was going in the skip where I worked I made sure it went in my car instead. While I've not started using it yet, I'm just looking at picking my studies back up so I can finish my CCNA, so I'm pretty sure before very long my 5 switches and 5 routers will expand (I foresee a WS-C3560G-48PS-S gigabit PoE switch to run my Aironet wireless access points and a few IP cameras which will replace my WS-C3560-24PS-S 10/100 switch, a 2504 WLAN controller if I can stretch to one or drop on one cheap, a patch panel or two as I cable up my house, and a firewall of some description).

    Make sure you get rack mounts with everything otherwise you'll have to pay out more to get them, and one or more console cables. Back when I started the USB cables were expensive, so I ended up with a 4-port serial card (plus an onboard port) cabled to my switches as the console ports are on the opposite side of the device to the switch ports so hard to get at in my rack, while the router ports are all on the same side of the device so I used a USB cable with those and swapped it between devices.

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