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Advice needed for starting the MCSA / MCSE...

Discussion in 'General Microsoft Certifications' started by glengonsalves, Dec 15, 2007.

  1. glengonsalves

    glengonsalves New Member

    Hi all,

    Glad to be on a MCSE forum!

    I need some info on starting the MCSE certification. I am into networking for about 10 years now. Worked with Novell Netware, Windows NT / 2000, Cisco routers & switches, applications, etc. I also had done the NT 4.0 core exams, CCNA.

    I need to update myself now as I feel I am outdated.

    Which exam should I tackle first?
    Which books are recommended for self-study?
    For the lab, which software should I use; VMWARE workstation or server?
    How much time will it take me to complete each exam (full-time); not working right now?

    Would appreciate your replies...


  2. Phoenix
    Honorary Member

    Phoenix 53656e696f7220 4d6f64

    I use VMWare workstation for its multi snapshot capabilities, i can easily roll back to previous incarnations of systems to re test stuff, Server only has one snapshot per guest

    You should probably start with the Core 4, 290 is a good starting point
    the client exam gets a bit boring so you can leave that to whenever :)

    Full time, depends on how experienced you were with 2k and such, but you could easily turn one around in a month if your actually putting the hours in, maybe even less if you know your stuff
    Certifications: MCSE, MCITP, VCP
    WIP: > 0
  3. BlueTac

    BlueTac Bit Poster

    Hi Glen,

    Hope everything goes well for you. I'd just like to add that Microsoft do their own less powerful Virtual PC software for free . If you've got a modern PC then it should cope well.


    As for the sequence of the exams. I myself did the MCSE after doing 4 core exams for NT4 and found that I really enjoyed studying the the Server 2003 course first. Coming from an NT4 background and understanding Novell's NDS, I couldn't wait to get upto scratch with Active Directory. That's my opinion anyways, I insist my students do the XP exam first though for administrative purposes!

    Certifications: MCSE 2003, MCT
  4. Fergal1982

    Fergal1982 Petabyte Poster

    Phoenix summed up a good enough reason for using workstation over server, but just to clarify a couple of points:

    VM Server is free, Workstation is not
    VM Server needs a Server client as its host OS. Workstation needs a Client-based OS (ie xp, etc) for its host. Whilst they MAY run on the other, they arent specced for it, so dont expect it to work.
    Certifications: ITIL Foundation; MCTS: Visual Studio Team Foundation Server 2010, Administration
    WIP: None at present
  5. glengonsalves

    glengonsalves New Member


    Thanks a lot for all your replies!

    Starting study for 290 exam with the MS Press book. However, for the labs I am facing a problem as my pc will be too slow to run the labs using VM (P-II 350Mhz, 256 MB RAM). I am also tight on a budget as I cannot buy the fastest PC available. Could anyone pls. advise as to the minimum specs to run the labs (processor, RAM).

    I will be building the box myself. I am thinking of this config:-

    Intel P4 3 Ghz processor (very cheap)
    1 GB DDR2 RAM
    80 GB HDD

    Is this ok or do I need to go for a Core 2 Duo processor E4300 (difference only about $50)?

    Thank again...

  6. BosonMichael
    Highly Decorated Member Award

    BosonMichael Yottabyte Poster

    I typically recommend getting your feet wet with the client exam, but you can certainly take it last if you want. Afterwards, just do them in order: 290, 291, 293, 294, then any design and elective exams you have remaining.

    I typically recommend Microsoft Press and Sybex for Microsoft exams.

    How long it takes you to complete each exam is entirely dependent on you - the amount of time you have to study, your current level of knowledge, how quickly you learn things, and how well you retain the information that you've learned. What may take me a day to study might take you a month, and what may take me a year to study might take you a week. It would be irresponsible of me to tell you how long YOU should take to study. Simply study the concepts until you understand them completely, then take the exam. :)

    I'd wholeheartedly recommend spending the extra cash and getting a Core 2 Duo. The CPU architecture has completely changed with the C2D, and they are *blazing* fast AND affordable. I've had one in my gaming box for about a year and a half, and I couldn't be more pleased with its performance.
    Certifications: CISSP, MCSE+I, MCSE: Security, MCSE: Messaging, MCDST, MCDBA, MCTS, OCP, CCNP, CCDP, CCNA Security, CCNA Voice, CNE, SCSA, Security+, Linux+, Server+, Network+, A+
    WIP: Just about everything!
  7. NeilKilroy08

    NeilKilroy08 New Member

    With any VM software i think you will need to focus on RAM, You can have the fastest processor but without the RAM you wont stand a chance. im running around 3 gig processor with 1.25 gb RAM, all seems good to me. I could probably knock out a server and possibly 3 or 4 client machines for it to test on at the same time.
  8. supag33k

    supag33k Kilobyte Poster

    Well this is all too true - adequate RAM with VM's is real important.

    Note that even with 1.25Gb of RAM you may not be able to run much on the VM server itself especially if you add a couple of clients too many! :blink
    Certifications: MCSE (NT4/2000/2003/Messaging), MCDBA
    WIP: CCNA, MCTS SQL, Exchange & Security stuff

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