Michael’s CCNA Success Story – How he passed the Cisco CCNA

by David Davis on January 1, 2008

Are you studying for the Cisco CCNA or looking for the best Cisco CCNA, routing, and switching resources available? If so, check out a recent post by Michael. He is a HappyRouter member and has really taken advantage of all the resources here, and at numerous other websites. Michael has been kind enough to share his story and detail out all the CCNA resources that he used in passing his test.

Thanks Michael & Congratulations to you, Mr CCNA!

This message is to David & All CCNA Candidates,

IMHO and what worked for me for my CCNA certification was the TrainSignal CCNA CBT, Chris Bryant’s CCNA Ultimate Study Guide, my own home lab and this is what I continue to use as I study for my CCNP. Also having both yourself and Chris to answer my questions is invaluable.

Unfortunately it took me about 15 months to actually figure this out. In those first 15 months I wasted quite an amount of time and money acquiring a mini CCNA library (no Cisco press books) and four different simulator programs. I found myself swamped by the amount of information in the books, some of which conflicted from book to book as some were obviously written a number of years ago and the test had changed in the meantime, but how was I to know. It’s a pity that bookshops continue to sell outdated books, but I guess they cannot be expected to know which books are current and which are out of date. Sp my advice to anybody buying technology books for certification, make sure the books you buy are current.

I also found that the simulator programs had bugs and shortcomings (missing commands or unexpected responses to commands), which is how I ended up with four different programs (at no small cost). It was not until somebody in work mentioned the TrainSignal Cisco CBT’s and loaned my his copy that I saw the light. From this I found out about Chris Bryant and his study guide, which I purchased. I found the material to be clear and concise. I used the CBT at home or on my breaks in work and carried the study guide around everywhere with me to read.

From the forums on Chris’s site I found out that people were building their own labs with equipment from Ebay, so I bit the bullet and put together my own home lab. This was and continues to be a great asset (with my CCNP studies). I also heard about your own site HappyRouter.com from the forums on Chris’s site and have found it a great help, having 2 certified CCIE’s who are prepared to help us less
experienced IT Professionals by answering our questions and providing pointers to other resources is just awesome.

From the happy router site I discovered Petri Cisco Forum where you are also a contributor, this site (IT Knowledge Exchange) and the
Cisco Network Professional forums where a lot of Cisco qualified people are also willing to answer questions on a wide range of networking topics.

I can see where taking a course and paying over $2000 has advantages, especially if the instructor is knowledgeable, however unless your employer is paying for this I think the money would be much better spent on Ebay on real Cisco Lab equipment. I know of a work colleague who spent €3500 on a Cisco CCNA course which did not provide enough or decent lab equipment for lab practice.

So in summary, my recommendation for anybody who has some experience in the IT area and who wishes to study for and get certified as a CCNA is to look at the following Book:

Todd Lammles CCNA Study Guide
(Sybex) This book has an excellent section on how to subnet in your head. A skill which is invaluable in both the exam and in the work environment.

Study Material:

Both are clear and concise, teaching you exactly what you need to know in an easy to understand format.

Lab Equipment: Real Cisco equipment from Ebay. It’s not as expensive as people might think and pretty much holds its resale value.
Using real Cisco routers and switches just cannot be beaten for hands on experience in my opinion. A word of caution, Stay away from 1900 switches. They are not what is tested on the exam. 2950’s are. Dynamips (see David’s article: Practice Cisco router configuration using a free emulator) which allows you to run actual IOS software but you need a pretty decent PC to run an entire lab.

But if you have to use a simulator, this is the way to go.

Simulators: There are many available, but due to the inherent bugs and shortcomings are false economy IMHO.


In my opinion this will get you your CCNA qualification with a little application on your part and represents the best value for your money.

On a personal note, I would like to say a big thanks to you for the time yougive back to the networking community, especially those of us lower down the certification ladder. Your happy router site, your postings in Tech Republic and your contributions on other sites are a great help to myself personally and I am sure many others, so THANK YOU David!!!

Again sorry for such a long post.

Best Regards,


P.S. checkout Michael’s home lab network diagram

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Santino 07.29.08 at 6:44 am

Thanks for the info.

Regarding purchasing Cisco equipment via ebay – which Router models would you recommend?


David Davis 01.12.09 at 2:30 pm

On the low end, I would even recommend 2500 series routers to get started for under $50. However, keep in mind that they likely won’t run the latest IOS. You can also buy 2600 and 3600 series routers for a low cost.
Other than than, I recommend the newer Cisco 800 series routers (see my article on using Cisco 800 series routers for CCNA Studies at the Petri IT Knowledgebase)

Exams 08.04.10 at 3:59 am

I am very impressed this success story. I want to share something about CCNA that a site which I have recently searched [site removed] offering CCNA preparation only in 45$ which I think is an excellent offer for all students.

Oleg 01.20.11 at 7:05 am

The problem of many novice engineers is that they read books which are too basic. They learn something but never fully understand – entry-level books simply don’t provide enough details. I’ve tried to cover it in my blog

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