Designing Your Microsoft Home Lab

It is not the best way to learn for your Microsoft certifications. Combining real-world experience and book knowledge is one of the best ways to study for your Microsoft certifications. In the past decade, hardware and software costs have dropped dramatically. Take advantage of low-cost hardware to create your own Microsoft home lab and practice your skills while you study for your exams. Here’s what you need.
Hyper-V on a Dedicated Server
Microsoft Hyper-V was introduced with Windows 2008, but you need at least Microsoft Windows 2012 to run your lab. While you don’t necessarily need a server to study book theory, you will need a machine capable of running Windows 2012 with sufficient disk space and memory space to host at least two virtual machines.
Hyper-V, the Microsoft hypervisor allows you to host multiple virtual machines on one machine. You can use an old desktop that you don’t need anymore.
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Start trainingOne Workstation With Windows Installed
Even though Microsoft Windows 7 is many years old, most corporations still use it. Windows 8 was not fully accepted in many corporate environments, but Microsoft Windows 10 is slowly gaining acceptance. Windows 7 is still a good operating system for your practice computer.
Your own desktop is fine as long as you don’t plan to make major changes to the configurations. If you don’t have a computer, you can get a used laptop or desktop. Follow the instructions in your training manuals.
Wired or wireless network with at least one router
Most likely, your ISP provided you with a router to connect your home to their backend. You have an ISP router, no matter if it’s DSL/cable. The problem is that you don’t have control over this hardware and don’t want to make changes that could interrupt service.
A router is essential, and it can be purchased at a very affordable price. It can be connected to your ISP router and then you can connect your home computers and mobile devices to the router. This allows you to understand router configurations and manage machines connected to it. You can adjust settings to practice for exams without having to interrupt ISP connectivity. Most routers today have both wired and wireless settings.
Network Storage
Hard drives can be installed on servers and workstations. Or, you can upgrade your lab and install network storage (or a NAS) in your lab. A NAS is a hardware device that allows you to hot-swap hard drive in each slot. These are hard drives that are directly connected to the network, without needing to be installed in a computer.
Although a NAS is not necessary, it will give you experience with enterprise storage. This will increase your budget by a few hundreds of dollars. If this is too much, you can just keep the storage in your servers and workstations.
Basic Configurations
You will need to add some configurations that are common to your enterprise when you set up your network. While you can follow your workbooks, you should be able to set up your network so that you can practice for exams.
Active Directory should be installed on your server to ensure security. Although it will make it harder to maintain a casual network, it will give you good practice with what you will encounter in the real world.
You should configure the most common Active Directory settings, such as password rules and restrictions on software installations on workstations. You will also need to monitor traffic on your network.
These are the basic components of a home lab’s design. However, you can modify it to suit your needs. Although it is relatively inexpensive for a small lab, it allows you to pass your exams much more easily by having hands-on experience.
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Designing Your Microsoft Home Lab
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