CCNA Advice

This topic contains 23 replies, has 16 voices, and was last updated by  DelimitingCharacter 3 weeks, 5 days ago.

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  • #6876
     Seen 
    Participant

    Ok guys, I’ve decided my next cert will be CCNA, and I need some advice.  I have basic networking experience, but no cisco or routing experience.  I pickup things rather quickly, so while self-studying will be a challenge, I don’t think it will be impossible.  I can afford to devote an hour or two a day until January, at which point I’ll be able to put in a little more time per day.  With that in mind I have the following questions:

    1.  Should I take the combined 802 exam, or the two separate ICND1 and 2 exams?  I realize it will be easier to take the exams separately, but how much easier?  Is the 802 exam twice as hard as the other 2?  If it’s not that much more difficult I’ll probably take the combined exam.  I don’t really have a time limit on when I want to earn this by, so if it takes me several months to learn everything I need, then no big deal.  I do well on exams, provided I know the material, but I’m not one of those people who can guess the correct answer repeatedly if I have no clue.

    2.  I’m going to put together a lab for the exam.  I realize there are simulators that I could use, but I want to learn and potentially use what I learn in a future job and that means using actual equipment.  So any suggestions?  Which routers and switches should I get, and how many of each?  I don’t see myself every getting a CCNP, but I’ll probably get a CCNA Security at some point.  So on the one hand, I’d like equipment that I could use for both the CCNA and CCNA Security, but at the same, I probably won’t get the CCNA Security for at least a year or two after the CCNA, so the exam might be updated by then and my equipment might be obsolete.  Any thoughts?  Also, there are a number of CCNA kits on ebay, does anyone recommend any kits, or should I just buy individual components and put it together all myself?

    Also if I get a router off eBay, can I legally download and update the IOS to 12.4 myself or not?  How do I know how much memory I need on the router?

    3.  As far as resources go, I pre-ordered the updated Wendell Odom CCNA library that’s supposed to be out in a few weeks.  Anything else you guys recommend?  I don’t really want to spend a lot of money on classes and the like, but if an extra 100 bucks on additional books or online videos will save me time and make passing the exam easier, I’m all for that.

    Thanks

  • #42483
     hayabusa 
    Participant

    Combined wasn’t bad at all, when I took it.  I can’t really tell you if easier than separate, as I haven’t done it that way.

    I’d done CBT nuggets (aside of building up a lab with a couple of 2500 series routers and a Catalyst switch or two.)  I’d also gotten hold of CCNA Router Sim, which pretty much did what was needed, too.

    But I’d say if you understand networks in general (IP addressing, subnetting, etc,) you should be fine taking the combined, so long as you spend some time practicing, and going over the material.

  • #42484
     Ignatius 
    Participant

    I did it in two halves and, as far as I know, each of the 3 exams contains a similar number of questions.  I was also told by my tutor that going the 2 exam route may mean more in-depth questions (as well as more questions about any weak areas that a candidate might have) than the 1 exam route but I don’t know if that’s correct.

    I would agree wholeheartedly with the idea of hands-on experience.  Quite a few of the questions were simulations where you have to interrogate routers or switches for their current configuration and then change the configuration to make the network function as required.  Only a small proportion were a typical MCQ with a stem and possible responses.  There is a time limit and it’s not possible to go back over questions when you have advanced to the next one.

  • #42485
     rattis 
    Participant

    I’ve only done the 1 exam thing, every time I took it. Granted the first time there was no 2 step program, but that was the 90s.

    A for the studying material, I’ll never waste my money on anything with Wendell Odom’s name on it EVER AGAIN. But that’s just my opinion. The last time through, I used both Todd Lammle’s book, and the 2 book “Library” by Odom. I was seriously disappointed with Odom that, well I already said my opinion. But it’s my opinion your mileage may vary.

    As for equipment off ebay, my next kit will be what is in Lammle’s book, or as close to it as I can. The current lab you need to do vlans, which my old 2500s won’t handle. 1 extra useful bit of gear to get for the lab though, is a consol server. Something you can log into and bounce around the lab without having to move cables.

  • #42486
     lorddicranius 
    Participant

    I haven’t taken the CCNA exam yet myself, but I’ve heard a lot of people using Todd Lammle’s books as well.  From what I’ve read so far, he explains things well.

  • #42487
     Seen 
    Participant

    Thanks guys, I’ll check out Lammle’s book.

    Also, I might be able to get 2 routers and a switch free from a friend’s IT department.  I’m not sure what models they’ll be, hopefully they’ll be useful.  I think I’ll ultimately want 3 routers and 3 switches (and maybe a console server now), but free is free  🙂

  • #42488
     Darktaurus 
    Participant

    I also want to thank everyone for posting. I am working on my CCNA too but I think I am just going to use GNS3 and Todd’s book only.  I have heard that it was enough to pass the CCNA.  I will eventually get to CCNA:Security and CCNP, but that’s when I will pay the 500 bucks worth of equipment. Can you do the CCNA:Security with GNS3 only too?

  • #42489
     SephStorm 
    Participant

    very interesting, most people I know love Odom, and dont like Todd.  For me, I had issue with the Odom books because they seemed to contain too much info, I believe I saw the material getting repeated. “A VLAN is…” “… is called a VLAN.”

    I liked the CBT Nuggets videos, but from what I was told, it wouldnt be sufficient to pass the exam.

  • #42490
     Anonymous 
    Participant

    It has been a while since I took my CCNA but I would have to think doing the combined will make it easier and that way you’ll only have one day to schedule for (and only one anxiety moment). Do as much hands on work as you can and as mentioned know OSI layers 2 & 3 cold.

  • #42491
     Seen 
    Participant

    The negative reviews of Lammle’s book on Amazon all tend to say that the questions are not hard enough, and that using it alone is not enough to pass the CCNA.  Any thoughts on this?  Considering I don’t have much networking experience this scares me.  I’d rather have a resource that is redundant and gives too much information than one that doesn’t give enough.

  • #42492
     rattis 
    Participant

    @seen wrote:

    The negative reviews of Lammle’s book on Amazon all tend to say that the questions are not hard enough, and that using it alone is not enough to pass the CCNA.  Any thoughts on this? 

    The First time I took the CCNA, all I used was Lammle’s book. The second time, I felt it was better than the Odom book. To the point that i’m getting ready to buy the 7th edition to do the CCNA again. Had the 6th, but things lapsed, and really only want it so I can do the CCNA Security (but need the time first).

    My favorite thing is that Lammle will teach you to subnet in your head. once you learn how, it’s just a quick refresher if you need to (Working as a network engineer, I don’t subnet much actually).

    In my opinion, Lammle, and some good labs are all you really need. Labs that you can play around and try to break things in.

  • #42493
     yatz 
    Participant

    It looks like you have a lot of answers here, but I’ll have a go as well.

    I have very recent experience as a Cisco network engineer.  I took the CCNA 802 exam in 2006, it expired, and I just passed the two ICND exams this year (ICND2 passed about 2 months ago).

    If your purpose is to work with Cisco long term, do the 2 exams.
    If you just want network experience and the cert, do the 1 exam.

    The 2 exam route was harder in my opinion than the 1 exam since ICND2 has more questions on harder material (spanning-tree, frame relay, routing protocol details, etc.).

    ICND1 was jokingly easy if you know how to subnet.  ICND2 takes subnetting for granted and almost every question has in depth subnet steps to even know what is being asked.

    For the 1 exam route, think of half the questions being too easy and the other half being normal, versus 1 test on easy and 1 on hard.  Literally.  I do intend to continue with CCNP/CCIE, so I took the 2 exams, and the extra studying I had to do was worth it for the long run.

    As for material, I used Wendell Odom books ICND1/2 kit for kindle.  I tried it, probably won’t do it on Kindle again.  It worked out OK for me to use Odom’s books because I tend to read the whole book cover to cover, do all the practice questions, then do the practice questions again, then do practice tests.  I know Cisco very well now.  Other books tend to teach to the exam, which is probably fine in your case.  I’ve been recommended Lammle’s books as well, but I have no experience so I can’t say one way or the other.

    Finally, as for labs, GNS3 will be plenty sufficient for CCNA level studying, if you can get your hands on IOS…

  • #42494
     T_Bone 
    Participant

    I am considering the CCNA exam to get a good grasp of networking concepts and cisco commands. I eventually want to move onto perform the CCNA security exam, is it recommended to perform the ICND1 and ICND2 if I intend to the security exam aswell?

    To confirm, are we saying that the following resources should be sufficient to pass the exam and get a good grasp?

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/CCNA-Certified-Network-Associate-640-802/dp/0470901071/ref=sr_1_5?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1318021819&sr=1-5

    Thanks

  • #42495
     Seen 
    Participant

    Yatz, your comments were most helpful.  I don’t see myself going past CCNA security, so I think I will go for the combined exam.

  • #42496
     YuckTheFankees 
    Participant

    This is how I studied for the CCNA.

    – Lammle’s book
    – bought 2x 1720 routers and 1x 2950 switch (worked fine for me but I know a good amount of people who prefer more equipment)
    – tried preplogic for a month (decent resource)
    – lastly I used howtonetwork.com (very good resource if you can buy all the equipment you want)
    – used a ton of notecards

    Hope that helped!

  • #42497
     T_Bone 
    Participant

    Hi Again

    Has anyone on here ever done the CCNA via the Open University based in UK? http://www3.open.ac.uk/study/undergraduate/course/t216.htm.

  • #42498
     p0et 
    Participant

    Good tips here on the CCNA.  I might start self-study with this if I can’t get someone to pay for a Mile2 course for me.  Sucks that there’s no one around my city or neighboring cities that offer CCNA courses other than the 5 day bootcamp which requires prior experience and cisco knowledge.

  • #42499
     Seen 
    Participant

    Ok guys, I got the equipment from my friend in IT, here is what I have:

    1 Cisco 1841 router with IOS 12.4
    1 Cisco 2621XM router with IOS 12.3
    1 Cisco 3524XL switch

    What else do I need?  I was planning on having 3 routers and 3 switches, that should be enough to cover all CCNA topics right?  Neither of the routers have serial ports, so I need to buy WIC cards.  I read that I need 1 router with 2 serial ports, and the others can just have 1, so I guess that means 4 WIC cards if I have 3 routers.

    Also, I read that the CCNA focuses on the 2950 switch, will I run into a problem if I use the 3524XL switch?  I think I’ll buy 2 2950s off ebay would that be a good idea?

    As far as the IOS goes, is it best if all the routers use the same version?  I was planning on putting 12.4T on the 1841, and I think the 2621 has enough memory for 12.4T.  The 2621 seems like a “clunker” compared to the 1841, but free is free.

    Also I only received a console cable from my friend.  What other cables do I need and how many of each, assuming I have 3 routers and 3 switches, and 1 router has 2 serial ports and the others have 1?  Is there a better place than eBay to get the cables?

    Also, I didn’t get any rack brackets, so I need to buy some.  Again is there a better place than eBay to get them?  Here is the rack I’m planning on getting:

    http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/B000CD1R84

    Besides an extra router, 2 more switches, and the WIC serial cards is there anything else that would be useful?  Someone mentioned an Access Server, what’s the benefit of using one of those?  I had planned on spending 300-400 on this lab, and I got this stuff for free, so I’m up for adding anything that people think will be useful.  I don’t plan on continuing on to a CCNP, but I’ll probably do the CCNA security at some point.

    Thanks.

  • #42500
     Haz3 
    Participant

    I’m self studying the CCNA – are there any useful online resources anyone can recommend?

    Any good experiences with sims?

  • #42501
     l33t5h@rk 
    Participant

    @seen wrote:

    Ok guys, I got the equipment from my friend in IT, here is what I have:

    1 Cisco 1841 router with IOS 12.4
    1 Cisco 2621XM router with IOS 12.3
    1 Cisco 3524XL switch

    What else do I need? 

    More than enough right there. This should cover you plenty.

  • #42502
     KrisTeason 
    Participant

    Hi Haz3,

    Welcome aboard! I would recommend Testout’s LabSim CCNA Training. It’s not a bad price and I found the training good. I purchased the Network+ and the MCITP: Configuring Server 2008 Network Infrastructure – 70-642. I got all the way through the Network+ material and was practicing on the Objective Exams towards the end when school caught up with me and I had to set it aside. I plan on picking it back up next year and continuing on with it. I think you would enjoy it, they have interactive labs, quizzes, notes, video material that will keep you busy for hours.

  • #42503
     Haz3 
    Participant

    @xXxKrisxXx wrote:

    Hi Haz3,

    Welcome aboard! I would recommend Testout’s LabSim CCNA Training. It’s not a bad price and I found the training good. I purchased the Network+ and the MCITP: Configuring Server 2008 Network Infrastructure – 70-642. I got all the way through the Network+ material and was practicing on the Objective Exams towards the end when school caught up with me and I had to set it aside. I plan on picking it back up next year and continuing on with it. I think you would enjoy it, they have interactive labs, quizzes, notes, video material that will keep you busy for hours.

    Thanks for taking time to reply, I’ll look into them  😉

  • #42504
     Anonymous 
    Participant

    Hi no I have not done any courses with them but I do know people who done other courses with open university and they said it was fine.

  • #42505
     DelimitingCharacter 
    Participant

    I am surprised to hear that the one exam route is easier. I always think if I end up not passing then I just wasted 300$ 🙁

    Odom’s books are super detailed… like chock full of things. I got both books for 40$ I think. 30% discount. Came with a simulator and a couple tests. At one point your just going to have to dive in and do it.

    The other thing is I hear Cisco routinely changes the passing scores…? If too many people pass they raise the bar.

    I have a 3550 (layer 3) and 1 2950 (layer 2). Also have a 1750 router. All three are flashed with the latest firmware to give things like SSH and whatnot.

    Aaannndd…

    their are other ways to find material… p2p networks is one. GNS3 with a IOS pack is another way… you can only simulate routers- HOWEVER you can in some IOS models make it a SWOUTER- which is a router with a 16 port switch blade. So you can do both.

    CBT NUGGETS
    Live Lessons

    IMO do a video course, take notes and then read the book. Its much easier. Mr. Odom’s book was easier to read after I understood the material in a video I had already watched.

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