Ok lots to to reply to and I can't quote everything I'm afraid but thanks for all the quick replies. I had a feeling by firing questions into this forum I'd get some good answers.
Originally Posted by Kaiga
Resources I have found great for CCNA and up:
Jeremy Ciora's CBT Nuggets videos
Train Signal with Chris Bryant
Todd Lammle's Sybex CCNA Guides
The Basic Cisco Press ICND 1 and 2 books.
Thanks for your replies.
I've been following Jeremy Ciora's CBT Nuggets as my primary resource so far, they've been great and I extracted the audio from them too so I could listen to them while exercising. I've been over the theory multiple times however he's reached the point where he starts talking about the actual Cisco hardware, hence why I made this thread.
Originally Posted by Blindsay
some good info here, now that im down with my bachelors im considering these as well and possibly some of the microsoft server certs (i forgot the exact name of them)
You and me both mate.
Originally Posted by scottsee
For CCNA you can really get away with a single 2600xm router and 2 x 2950(g or t) switches. And use GNS3/Dyna for buliding, configuring and leaning/practicing more complex designs. I've pretty much put everything in my closet and run a pure Dynamips server with several 3550's. Pretty much no one buys labs anymore for CCNP/CCIE studies.
If you want to spend $ and have versatility for future studies go strait to 2/3 x 3550's swithces & 3+ x 3725 routers.
How do students practise out of interest once they start hitting the higher levels? Is it all done on a software basis? I only ask because I've seen some labs online so big and expensive that they caused my heart to skip a beat.
I have money, but obviously not unlimited money. I need to eat too.
My fiancÃ©e decided being unfaithful would be a wonderful idea so now I'm left sitting on a rather tidy sum of rainy-day cash.
I've been learning the theory up until now but I'm quite eager to learn on the hardware itself so I'm somewhat more clued up, however I've noticed the prices of labs and equipment can raise very quickly and none of the hardware available on ebay seems to be current stuff. But then after checking out the prices of current equipment, I can understand why.
Ideally I'd like to get to grips with the hardware and
the software simultaneously to get the best all-round understanding as I still have a long way to go, I just don't wish to become infamous for buying lots of overpriced, Chinese knock-off stuff that I don't need. (No offence to any Chinese dwellers here.)
Originally Posted by PCCstudent
One thing I notice that is stressed so very much with many of the DVD tutorial training aids is you must be an absolute master of the fundementals. You must know the OSI and TCP/IP models front and back,subnetting should not raise your pulse 1 beat per minute and all the DHCP,DNS,Natting and like commands or better said systems need to be second nature.I want a lab also but until I master the fundementals I am not following the proper course.There is just so much to master before it is home lab time.Get either the Train Signal or CBT Nuggets CCNA prep course and see if the instructor ever looses you.
I've been able to keep up and so far absolutely loads of blanks have been filled in so far with the fundamentals. It's almost like a light has switched on upstairs or that missing jigsaw piece has fallen into place.
I now have the GNS3 software and the packet sniffer and have pretty much the whole weekend to myself so I'm going to start learning how to use them. Depending on how I get on I would like to take myself further than CCNA which is why I was wondering about the lab. At the end of the day if it proves no use to me I can always just sell it again.
Thank you for all the fantastic replies so far, I've now got a much better idea of where I'm going.