How to Set Up a Home Practice Lab for A+ and Network+

A lot of my students ask, “How do I set up a lab I can practice on while I’m studying for my A+ and Network+ exams?” Well, here’s what you can do:

1. Get a 64-bit computer with Windows 7 Professional or Ultimate that has a minimum of 4GB of RAM.

It’s very easy to find desktops and laptops that have 4GB of RAM for under $500. You’ll need x64 architecture for supporting

2. Download a desktop Virtualization program.

  • VirtualPC 2007 is a free download from Microsoft that will support Windows 7 and Server 2008. Installation and setup is a piece of cake.
  • VirtualBox is another option that’s free. It also will support pretty much all your core operating systems.

3. Download the free trials of Windows 7 and Server 2008 from Microsoft.

Microsoft provides free trial downloads of Windows 7 and Server 2008 for practice. The trials are good for 90 days, which should be enough time to practice for your exams.

Once you have the free trials downloaded, start practicing by creating some virtual machines and at least one Server 2008 domain controller to start building out your own networked domain.

Also, try to find an older box from a neighbor or someone you know that you can get comfortable taking apart and putting back together. DO NOT practice on your main machine!

In my next post, I’ll share the same study protocols I use in my own certification study.

Now get to it, champion!

Your friendly neighborhood instructor,
Coach Culbertson

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