Can you give me ideas on how I can get Hands on with Active Directory at home?

I'm currently learning about Active Directory right now. I want to get practical hands-on with AD. What is the best way I can do this at home? Should I build a pc and install Home server 2012? Then connect all pc in my house to Active Directry? Whats the best way? Please share your ideas and advice, thanks!


  • cyberguyprcyberguypr Senior Member Mod Posts: 6,920 Mod
    The simple answer is labbing. You can do it on prem, AWS, Azure, combination or whatever. Life pro tip: If you live with someone or depend on your computers for critical stuff, make sure you isolate your lab. Don't ask me how I know.
  • faintingheartfaintingheart Member Posts: 256
    Cyberguypr: Whats prem? I never heard of that before, and how do I use AWS, and Azure for labbing? Can you explain? :) Thanks!
  • ErtazErtaz Member Posts: 934 ■■■■■□□□□□
    Cyberguypr: Whats prem? I never heard of that before, and how do I use AWS, and Azure for labbing? Can you explain? :) Thanks!
    Prem=Premise. +1 on isolation of the lab. Failure to do so can severely reduce your SOAF.(Significant Other Acceptance Factor)
  • SlowhandSlowhand MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure, MCSA: Windows Server 2003/2012/2016, CCNA Routing & Switchi Bay Area, CaliforniaMod Posts: 5,161 Mod
    Here's the setup for every lab I've done for every Microsoft exam I've taken so far:
    • VMware Workstation installed on a computer with lots of RAM: at least 8GB, preferably 16GB - 32GB
    • (You could also go with Hyper-V or VirtualBox)
    • At least two virtual machines running the OS I'm studying, so in this case it would be Windows Server 2012 R2 or 2016, the trial editions will more than suffice for labbing
    • Add more virtual machines as needed, they don't need a whole lot of resources to be lab machines, maybe 1GB - 2GB RAM and 40GB or so of thin-provisioned hard drive space.
    • Run through some lab scenarios with these virtual machines, either as described in a certification guide or in articles online
    If those concepts aren't clear, then you probably should think about brushing up on some fundamentals before trying to tackle AD. There are plenty of guides and howtos out there if you search Google for how to set up your virtual lab.

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  • faintingheartfaintingheart Member Posts: 256
    Thank you for the guide. Very helpful.
  • soleteksoletek Member Posts: 33 ■■□□□□□□□□
    If you have a decent proc you should be able to create a couple or several working VM's with a evaluation of Windows on Oracle Virtual box. If you have Windows 10 you can use hyper-v and do the same. If you want and in depth nested virtualize environment get VMWARE workstation or buy a server with a couple of procs.
  • faintingheartfaintingheart Member Posts: 256
    Thanks soletek!
  • devilbonesdevilbones Member Posts: 318 ■■■■□□□□□□
    There are tons of labs on You get to use Azure to build and test.
  • JoJoCal19JoJoCal19 California Kid Mod Posts: 2,831 Mod
    For what you want to do, I'd recommend AWS or Azure. I wouldn't even bother with a physical lab at this point. Not only is it super fast and easy using AWS, but it can be much cheaper, and doesn't take up space or electricity. You'll also have the side benefit of gaining experience with cloud technology too.
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