What is Real Used Gear?
This one may be pretty obvious, but companies buy brand new Cisco routers and switches all the time, and most companies sell the old devices. Much of that gear is later re-sold on the Internet anyone who’s looking for inexpensive used Cisco gear. Here are some of the basics:
- Lots of online auction sites, like eBay.com, have a healthy trade in used Cisco products.
- Lots of companies sell used gear, often times selling packages of gear meant for specific Cisco certs. (Just Google “used cisco router”, "used CCNA router", or similar.)
- Most used gear still has the IOS installed that was last used by the previous owner.
- Some used gear is “authorized refurbished”, meaning Cisco is in the loop, the reseller must follow rules for checking out the gear, and the IOS is licensed by Cisco.
- If you do not have access to IOS images elsewhere, take care to investigate the IOS version and feature set of the device before you buy, to know whether it supports all the features you need for a given exam.
Advantages over Using the CCNA Simulator or Dynamips
- Runs real IOS, so it supports all IOS commands (Simulator does not)
- Performs well under many more conditions, particularly with medium to high traffic loads (Dynamips performance can degrade with additional load)
- Real Cisco switches support all switch commands (for that version); Dynamips does not emulate Cisco switches, and the Simulator supports a subset of commands, mostly CCNA-level commands
I Want Real Gear - Now What?
Over time, most people who use real Cisco gear for learning repeat the same process over the years, slowly adding to their home labs. This process requires that you learn about the cert, older router and switch models, research both auction sites and companies that sell used gear. This requires some digging and some learning, and can be a little scary if your budget is small.
This site hopefully helps you with this process by listing information in the Lab Gear section. This site also lists the blog series
I've done over the years about how to build a Cisco cert lab at home.