1 2 Previous Next 20 Replies Latest reply: Oct 26, 2010 1:50 PM by Shane0613 RSS

    CCNA Home Lab Setup. Help Needed.


      I need a lil' bit of guidance concerning my home CCNA lab. I took CCNA1-4 in 2004, but due to circumstances was unable to take the CCNA exam despite doing well in all four classes. Anyway, I am trying to setup a home lab, so that I can finally take the CCNA. I plan to study/practice over the winter. When I took those classes we had 1700 series routers and 1924-EN switches. I think these maybe outdated now, but I am not sure. Here is what I have so far:


      1x 1721 Router [C1700 Software (C1700-Y-M), Version 12.2(4)YA2, EARLY DEPLOYMENT RELEASE SOFTWARE (fc1)]

      2x 1720 Routers [C1700 Software (C1700-Y-M), Version 12.2(3d), RELEASE SOFTWARE (fc1)]

      1x WS-C2950C-24 Switch [C2950 Software (C2950-I6Q4L2-M), Version 12.1(19)EA1c, RELEASE SOFTWARE (fc2)]

      5x WS-C1924-EN Switches [IOS not known yet, in the process of being shipped]


      My main point of concern is what IOS I should be running. I have read 12.4 is the latest for the routers. Also the 2950C says "Running Enhanced Image", which I take is a good thing. Is this a good enough setup to practice the labs for the CCNA. Is there anything that my lab is in desperate need of? Also what is the exact name of the IOS image that I should run on the routers. I have read that IOS 12.3 would be fine to run also, but either 12.4/12.3 there seems to be 10 different versions of each IOS (Example:advipservices, IP Base, advsecurity, IPvoice, and many other versions). Which one would be best for just doing CCNA labs? I know that I will have to upgrade the memory on the routers, so that is not a problem. I don't plan on setting all this up in one week. Are the 1924 switches useful or should I purchase another 2950?


      I got the 3 routers for 30 bucks, the 2950 for 65, and the 5 1924s for 40. Any help would be appreciated. This is something that I have to get done so that I can improve my chances of getting a better J-O-B, so that I can provide for my family better.

        • 1. Re: CCNA Home Lab Setup. Help Needed.

          Oh yeah. I forgot to ask. In the Cisco Networking Academy, I believe we had WIC-2T modules in the routers. Would this be best to have or will a WIC-1T in each work? I currently have one WIC-1T and one WIC-1DSU-T1. I also need to upgrade the RAM in the routers also. The 1721 has 32mb and the others have 16mb. I have looked for memory upgrades and I have found a few. I have found a MEM1700-128D but I am not sure if it will work, I know the MEM1700-96D will max out my 1721 but I would also like to upgrade the 1720s. Any suggestions on the RAM/Flash?? None of them have been upgraded as far as RAM/Flash is concerned.

          • 2. Re: CCNA Home Lab Setup. Help Needed.

            OLD, way too old are WS-C1924, the exam is based on 2900 series switches with 12.4 IOS


            I recommend to use Packet tracer. it is simulator but you learn more than with real gear as you can study packets, see what is going on on the network in sim mode.

            You took cisco classes so you have physical experience plugin and playing with cables.


            Your electric bill will be Huge!  Save money, save planet Earth!

            • 3. Re: CCNA Home Lab Setup. Help Needed.

              Having a real hardware is the best Lab setup.

              But for starters, packet tracer is good choice as well as gns3 where you can emulate real cisco IOS for routing and a "little" basic switching.

              • 4. Re: CCNA Home Lab Setup. Help Needed.

                Simulators are out of the question. I've had Packet Tracer for 6 years and have played with it maybe 30 minutes. Also, some jobs I have went on, if I had used a sim rather than hands on, I would have been fired for not knowing how to properly connect equipment. My professor was excellent, but in CCNA1-4 we still did not spend much time outside of IOS and book work. It was too time consuming to let each individual connect/wire the equipment, despite our classes being 5 hours long twice weekly, as was evident when the final lab exam for CCNA 4 proved when everyone had to actually construct the lab. It affected me poorly. I spent too much time wiring the equipment and I was left with little time to do the IOS commands. so I panicked and did poorly on the lab. It  cost me an A in CCNA 4. The teacher recognized his failure to emphasize connecting the equipment and gave us a curve, b/c everyone had problems with this. It still cost me dearly, and I ended up with lower GPA than I hoped (3.5).

                  I just need something I can basically run most of the labs with. I am assuming the 1700 routers are still capable for learning, and I have at least one 2950 switch already. So I guess I will get a few more. The 1924s are completely useless? The commands have changed that much? I should have taken the CCNA after taking those classes, but I got a job where I had to travel, so I spent a few years travelling to sites and I didn't use any Cisco knowledge. I need to refresh myself and get motivated to do so, and packet tracer just doesn't motivate me. I could always take the classes again. If  there is one disadvantage to the Cisco Networking Academy, it is, having enough students to "make" a class. I wanted to take CCNP, but by the time we got to CCNA 4, out of 20+ students only 6 were left. It takes at least ~10 for a course to happen at my local technical college where the classes are offered. When I graduated, CCNP had never made/been offered due to not enough students. I don't know if it has been offered since my departure. It is not only with Cisco courses, just a 2-3 year Associates Degree the beginning of each year there would be a huge influx of students, but by the next semester classes would have only 10-15 students max, down from 30+.


                I am not trying to downgrade the effectiveness of simulators like Packet Tracer, but some people (like myself) have a hard time learning with them. I cannot hold my concentration with them. Where if I have an actual piece of equipment in front of me that is not working correctly and I am responsible for fixing it, I take it as a slap in the face if I can't master it. Therefore I will spend hours if needed, to research how to fix it.  I don't get the same feel from simulators. I  believe that if you want your CCNA, you also want to be a CCIE also, and I don't imagine getting your CCIE with a simulator. I would like to have a lab that could help past the CCNA, but for now, I need to get past the CCNA hurdle.

                • 5. Re: CCNA Home Lab Setup. Help Needed.

                  good post and reply.


                  Please see if you can run 12.4(T) mainline IOS HISEC K9 ADV IP SERVICES on routers version 25 or newer


                  12.2(T) mainline IOS HISEC K9 ADV IP SERVICES on switches.


                  You dont need the vpn acceleration subcards and a Cisco 2610xm used prices are lower. Also 1741 is really good too.

                  • 6. Re: CCNA Home Lab Setup. Help Needed.

                    no class needed, get self-study books like ones by W. Odom.

                    yes, 1900 series switches have that Menu Based interface, which is not tested and is gone.

                    IOS version needs to be relatively up-to-date. there are differences between IOS on 2924 switches, f.e. configuring vlan priority varies.


                    beyond ccna you need real gear, not sims. for ccna you need to know basics of networking.

                    what happens when you plug in cable into new PC.

                    you can't see it on real gear.  can you see Frame relays frames on real equipment? Probably not, almost impossible.


                    With PT in sim mode, you can see and read each type of packet sent from PC to switch. PT even tells you what happens at each OSI layer!

                    You can see TCP/IP in action, which is important for a beginner in the network field.

                    • 7. Re: CCNA Home Lab Setup. Help Needed.

                      That is a good point about viewing packets w/ Packet Tracer, but in the CCNA classes I took, we studied packets, and studied packets, and studied more  packets to the point that we already knew what was in the packets. But your point is valid. Anyhow, so the 1900 switches are no good. How about the 1700 series routers? I know I can update them to 12.4, I think.a  So they are good as long as I update them? Or should I sell them and the switches and get router that is better??


                      Let's simplify the question a bit:


                      If the 1700 Series routers are fine, I just need a few more 2950 switches? How many switches also?

                      If the 1700 Series routers are not good, What affordable routers should I get and how many?


                      I'm thinking 3 of each routers and switches.


                      I am not worried about having to buy more equipment if the stuff I have is not good enough. I can always lump the 1700's and 1924s together as a lab setup and sell them on eBay and get my money back. I have about 70 bucks invested in the 3 1700s and 5 1924's combined. So less than a benjamin is all that I would be out worst case scenario. Or I could save them for 20 years and sell them as antiques like the Tandy 1000's in my closet.


                      My CCNA books are probably outdated also. I believe the courses I took were version 3.1 and my books are 3rd edition. Looks like I need a complete overhaul.

                      • 8. Re: CCNA Home Lab Setup. Help Needed.

                        When you say the 1900 switches are menu based. I don't recall ever using a menu to configure the switches. I do believe there may have been an option for it, but I don't recall. I know we configured the 1924s the same way we configured everything, through IOS command line.

                        • 9. Re: CCNA Home Lab Setup. Help Needed.

                          If your doing CCNA level any hardware is better than nothing.  The problem is if 2 correct test questions were given and one had the old IOS comand and the new IOS 12.4 one, the most correct one would be the new one.


                          old switches don't allow more than 64 vlans

                          • 10. Re: CCNA Home Lab Setup. Help Needed.

                            1900 go both ways: menu and CLI-based, but steps to config VLans differ from those on 2900.  I remember, at least 6 years ago, I had to learn both ways.

                            This can mess up you mind especially during exam where you might not have access to all commands. I would not use 1900 at all.


                            For now, I think you all set. You need 3 routers, where one has 2 WICs so you can use it as frame Relay switch. 4 would be nice, then you can do Hub-spoke FR. 1721 looks OK, 2 WICs and 1 Ethernet port. I am not sure if your IOS supports IPv6 ?


                            2 switches are OK, 3 are better (traingle setup where you can practice STP).


                            Finally, you do need latest books. New topics are IPv6, more OSPF, port security, wireless.

                            • 11. Re: CCNA Home Lab Setup. Help Needed.

                              right, switch models  the end in -XL are legacy too. If possible it should be 2950 or 3550 for switch but something is better than nothing.  You can tell by the way they look with more plastic on them than the newer ones and you can also use the Cisco Feature Navigator to identify gear that is EOL and not running 12.2 switch or 12.4 router IOS.


                              Many labs can run on old stuff but note the way that PT5.3 IOS commands are different if your using old stuff if you want to have a more rounded exam prep situation.

                              • 12. Re: CCNA Home Lab Setup. Help Needed.

                                I appreciate all the info you all have given. I tried to get an answer on the Academy Connection forums and didn't even get a response.  I wish I would have taken the CCNA after or during CCNA4 but circumstances prevented it. Then I had to spend the past 3 years preparing for a major surgery, having the surgery and then 2 years of PT (Physical Therapy not Packet Tracer) . I am now in a position to continue my quest and that is good. I appreciate all the info and thanks to all of you.

                                • 13. Re: CCNA Home Lab Setup. Help Needed.

                                  Good luck, let us know if your IOS supports IPv6 ? I am just curious..

                                  • 14. Re: CCNA Home Lab Setup. Help Needed.

                                    Hey martin or anyone. What is a good router that is fairly inexpensive on ebay that would solve my questions about the 1700 series routers. A router that will support IPv6 and be more up to date.  I think the 1721 would be usable, but the 2 1720s I have only have 4mb flash and 16mb DRAM. So I would easily have to put 30 bucks in all three just to get them to support a newer IOS. What routers are used in the exam? I think IntegrationArchitect said 2610XM routers would be good and I see they are around 30bucks on ebay. Any ideas on what would be a good affordable router?

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