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  1. Senior Member Robbo777's Avatar
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    Thumbs up How to practice with Server 2012 for the MSCA

    Hi, i have decided to go for the MCSA after gaining my degree in computer science a few years ago and the N+ and CCNA last year. I have decided to go for these because there doesn't seem to be as many opportunities for network technicians or engineers where i am from and I'm told i need more experience in those fields. So I'm going to go for the MSCA to gain more qualifications and credibility on my CV etc...
    However, I'm not quite sure how i can practice for it, with the CCNA you had GNS3 and packet tracer to practice with and could come up with scenarios to create and practice with. I have been watch the CBT nuggets videos on the MSCA and it doesn't seem as complicated as the CCNA was to me, just seems like there is more theory and commands in powershell to remember. But i'm not sure what i can use to practice with, i cant purchase a full version of server 2012, is there some kind of learning version or student version i can use for the exams? Also what type of "scenarios" i should be practising the most if you get me to.

    Thanks for the help everyone
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    #2
    So Microsoft offers 180 day evaluations of most of their software. That is what I used for my entire MCSA path.
    https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/eval...ws-server-2012

    Training videos do a great job of interoducing you to the content. They do not, however, do a good job of preparing you for the exam. The exam objectives listed by Microsoft are less than comprehensive and most of the topics require you to dive pretty deep into them to understand where Microsoft is trying to take you. Don't be decieved if you get the content of the training videos quickly because there can still be a lot of information that they just didn't have time to cover

    When it comes to labbing. The best piece of advice I can offer is to look at the exam objectives and do everything in your power to lab everything listed in the objectives. Pay attention to every option, dialog box, pop up, tab, etc. because they will throw questions like "What tab do you click on to do XYZ?" If that isn't something you can track well, I recommend picking up a good book and following along as best you can there. I personally found the Microsoft Official Course material to be the best when it comes to overall exam content coverage and the labs were pretty straight forward.
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  4. Senior Member Robbo777's Avatar
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    #3
    Hi, thanks for the response, where can i find the exam objectives you mentioned?
    Also, would you say that learning the cmd and powershell commands are the most vital part of the process in order to pass the exam?
    Last edited by Robbo777; 02-03-2016 at 06:59 AM.
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    #4
    https://www.microsoft.com/en-gb/lear...am-70-410.aspx

    That should get you going for the first exam presuming you are doing them in order, the 70-410

    I've not done the exam yet as I'm doing the VCP first but I'd say that the powershell and cmd's are only a part of the exam, you definitely need to know them as you will no doubt get questions on them but you need to have a good all round grasp on all the topics.

    You will probably be tested on things you would never use in a real world scenario but make sure you know everything on those objectives.

    Most of all keep us all updated on your progress
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    #5
    You might also want to consider creating an account for Microsoft Virtual Academy, it's free and it has plenty of examples and questions you can use as practice tests.
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  7. user.Status = "Learning";
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    #6
    Like jim said, get the 180-day trial and use it to follow the example in the videos and/or books you use. I've been working with Windows Server for more than 10 years and I used the CBT Nuggets course (pre-R2 days) to reinforce what I knew and to learn about what had changed since 2008 R2. The nice thing about WinServ is that many of the topics have carried over from previous releases, so if you've ever worked with 2003 or 2008, a good part of it will be familiar. One thing that changed (that I recall an exam asking about) is installing Active Directory...in days of old it was done with "dcpromo.exe", but that no longer flies in 2012. Be mindful of any mentions of "in previous versions..." because that means they are pointing something out that is done differently, and the exam may offer answer selections that contain a correct answer for older versions and a correct answer for 2012. Some additional comments to keep in mind on your journey...

    PowerShell is becoming more prevalent in Microsoft's line of products because more and more of what they are doing uses PowerShell behind the scenes. This way, you wouldn't necessarily need to know how to use another product such as Exchange 2013, you would just need to know how to use PowerShell's syntax and reference a list of cmdlets that Exchange employs. With PowerShell you can create a user account in Active Directory just as easily as you could determine who in an organization sent an email to a certain recipient in a specific date range. Think of PS as a product unification language that you can use to quickly create some complex and high-power automation scripts.

    I don't recall how much virtualization is covered in the MCSA, but getting to know Hyper-V will be helpful and will allow you to run more than one server installation at a time (if the physical machine has enough resources). Plus, you can experiment with things like configuring Windows Deployment Services on the host machine and deploy that configuration to a new virtual machine. More advanced topics like Virtual Machine Manager (part of System Center) and Failover Clusters may be more on the MCSE side, but their implementation is not uncommon in the real world. Many of the concepts you learn about Hyper-V will carry over to more popular platforms like VMware's vSphere/ESXi.
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  8. Senior Member Robbo777's Avatar
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    #7
    Thanks for all your help so far, it sounds bad but I'm actually having some trouble installing server 2012. I have all the different files downloaded but it doesnt install, everytime i go to extract the .iso files to a temp folder and then get the install screen, it just loads up the next screen "setup is starting", then just does nothing and goes back to desktop.
    Do i need to create another partition and install it on there? I've never actually installed server 2012 before so i'm a bit of a novice in that regard, i'm use to just having it in front of me already basically.
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    #8
    How are you installing it? Best bet is to install virtualbox or vmplayer and load the iso in a vm.
    In life you have to make your own opportunities. Don't let anyone stop you from your dreams to many negative people want you to fail because they can't succeed.
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  10. Senior Member Robbo777's Avatar
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    #9
    Any tips for the best virtual software i should put it on? Also, I'm wondering what are the other options beside a virtualbox basically? If i wanted to install it on my PC as well would i have to create another partition for the software and boot from it when i want to load it up?

    Thanks
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    #10
    Google it my friend.. Best really depends on the use case. But free as mentioned before VM player and Virtualbox. Are you trying to dual boot? What are you trying to do? Don't overcomplicate things my friend. If you want to practice spin up a vm within your pc and install the iso. If you want to go all out get a dedicated machine and install esxi or something and go crazy.
    In life you have to make your own opportunities. Don't let anyone stop you from your dreams to many negative people want you to fail because they can't succeed.
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  12. Senior Member Robbo777's Avatar
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    #11
    I think i'll use the virtual option then, since i wasnt quite aware of how the setup worked in regards to just installing it on a machine i had to ask some silly but necessary questions.
    I just have one or 2 more, how does it work in regards to the virtual box? basically how is all the space attained? If its not coming from my computer then how is it being run via the virtual machine? Or is the virtual machine still using resources from my PC apart from the obvious RAM and CPU requirements to run the virual box software? Such as more HDD space. Sorry, i'm really not as experienced with virtualisation most of you i'm assuming.

    After playing around with VMware for about half an hour now, i think i'm understanding how it works a bit more now. Basically, its a way of running another OS without actually splitting up your HDD? So for me to run server 2012 its going to need to be allocated so much space of my physical HDD (around 60 gb) and so many cores etc... To run. Is that basically how it works?

    What does it mean when it says do you want to either split the image or keep it as a single file as well by the way? I'm not sure what this means.

    Is it better me just installing it on an old laptop then just because i dont think i have an extra 60gb available on my HDD and then just using splitting up the partitions on one of my unused laptops?

    Cheers for all the help
    Last edited by Robbo777; 02-03-2016 at 11:48 PM.
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    #12
    When you begin the installation, it will ask you to allocate some space to the VM, for the guest OS. When the guest OS runs, it will think it is running on its own dedicated resources. So yes, space and resources dont magically appear, those are the resources from the host OS and host machine. The gues OS doesnt know that when it is spun up. Once you run the install it will be pretty simple. When you shut down the guest OS, your machine will run as normal again. That a little explanation on a high level.
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  14. Senior Member stryder144's Avatar
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    #13
    If you don't mind me asking, what are the specs of your computer? RAM, CPU, available disk space and the version of Windows you are using (if it is 8, 8.1, or 10, is it the Professional edition?).
    The easiest thing to be in the world is you. The most difficult thing to be is what other people want you to be. Don't let them put you in that position. ~ Leo Buscaglia

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  15. Senior Member Robbo777's Avatar
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    #14
    Its an amd phenom x945 with 6gb gddr3 ram and a 300gb velociraptor HDD, with windows 7 x64. I hate windows 8 so unless i have to use it i prefer not to.
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  16. Senior Member stryder144's Avatar
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    #15
    If you had 8, 8.1, or 10 Professional, they have Hyper-V as a free optional install. My thought was that you could get used to Hyper-V while studying for the exams. It sounds like your rig is capable of running things nicely, though, I would probably spring for a one or two terabyte hard drive to store the images on and whatever is the maximum amount of RAM the motherboard/CPU can handle (16GB would be preferrable without being too expensive).
    The easiest thing to be in the world is you. The most difficult thing to be is what other people want you to be. Don't let them put you in that position. ~ Leo Buscaglia

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  17. Senior Member Robbo777's Avatar
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    #16
    I have just installed VMware and think its pretty useful so far, I'm still not sure if i should install it on a VM though or on my spare laptop for extra speed to be honest.
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  18. Senior Member Robbo777's Avatar
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    #17
    One big question then, how would i go about creating a network with 2 forests and domains and domain controllers in those domains with users in them etc... I'm trying to do this to fully grasp and practice all the exam objectives basically.
    Would i need a virtual environment to do all this?
    Questions:
    How do i go about it?
    If i keep the computers in the same address scopes will they be able to talk to one another etc..
    Do i create one physical installation of server 2012 then on that use virtual machines to create users desktops etc...
    Can i do that to create other server 2012 machines with domain controllers on etc...

    Its just all really confusing for me at the moment to be honest, I'm really really not use to all this. Once i get it i'll be able to go about it all much easier.
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    #18
    You can create as many VM's as your physical machine can handle, and have 2-3 vms running side by side of your machine can handle it. You need to go through the process of defining your domain first and then the domain controllers. Do a quick search on google and you will find info on how go setup a DC pretty fast. You need to run some services as well.
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    #19
    I would honestly avoid doing cross-domain work until you are little further into your study. Focus on one domain and learn the ins and outs of Active Directory administration before you dive into the advanced stuff like multi-domain forests and cross forest administration.

    It sounds like you're pretty new to virtualization on top Server 2012. I would recommend playing with that some and googling things as you go to get an idea of what you can do with the technology. VirtualBox is a great free tool that can get you started with VMs. If you already downloaded VMWare Workstation or something like it (or have a dedicated ESXi computer) then learn how to use those. It will all make sense once you've started using it some.
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  21. user.Status = "Learning";
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    #20
    I second Jim's advice (I keep checking the forums after he posts ).

    Heavy virtualization and multi/cross-forest topics aren't even touched on until the MCSE material...I probably should have dialed back my comments earlier about the topic of virtualization, but I get excited talking about it, and I'm glad to see that you do too. There is a lot to learn for the MCSA and the enthusiasm to learn topics beyond that will help drive you to complete it.

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  22. Senior Member Robbo777's Avatar
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    #21
    I know what you're both saying and i agree, i wont be jumping into that stuff either. However i do want to get the actual setup done or understood though just so that when it comes to it i'll be ready. Most of the time i like to go fully into it as well, it helps me more if i jump into the deep end and learn from there! So when it comes to more straight forward exam questions then I should be fine on them.
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  23. Senior Member Robbo777's Avatar
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    #22
    One thing i do want to make sure and clarify though is if i install server 2012 on my physical laptop (with no other OS on it) then can i use hyper v or vmware to create another server 2012 setup on it with a couple of users computers also in that virtual environment also? If so then will they all be able to communicate if i put them all within the same IP range and subnet.

    Also, another thing i'm not sure about is when i go to install the server 2012 image on vmware on my desktop PC that only has 10GB space left on it, i delegate 60GB on the startup screen on VMware and when i go to boot up the installation, it says free space is 60GB. How is this possible when there is only 10GB left on my physical machine? It surely wont work will it?

    These may sound like silly questions but there are some things i just cant wrap my head around at the moment.

    Or if my scenarios seem to convoluted, just explain what would you would personally do and how you would go about it all.

    Thanks again
    Last edited by Robbo777; 02-05-2016 at 05:00 AM.
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    #23
    Yes. If you have Server 2012 installed you can use Hyper-V to create multiple guest installations. As long as your CPU, disk, and memory can support the extra load you should be able to do this.

    Its likely that when you created the VHD for your OS and allocated 60GB you configured it to use thin provisioning (dynamically expanding). Thin provisioning creates a file that only contains the used disk space. In your case you created a 60GB VHD that only consumes around 4KB on the disk until you install Windows on it. When that VHD is mounted it will show as having a maximum of 60GB even though your drive only supports 10GB. Its kind of a difficult concept to wrap your head around. I suggest googling Thin Provisioning or looking at some of the Storage+ training materials to understand that aspect better. With that setup, you need to pay attention to how much you are actually using because you can over-provision your storage and really create issues.

    A lot of this is covered in the training materials in one way or another. I also recommend looking up training videos for the MCSA that cover lab setups and even go as far as looking into some Storage+ or Server+ training to help you grasp some of the fundamentals. I'm not really sure what your experience is but it does sound like you are really starting from the beginning. Focusing on some of the basics will help the rest of it make sense down the road.
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  25. Senior Member Robbo777's Avatar
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    #24
    Thanks for the help and advice. As you can guess i'm pretty new to virtualisation in server 2012 etc... I've just started the MSCA and i have to say at the beginning i thought it would be a breeze compared to the CCNA and my Degree but i have to say it is a lot more complex and complicated than i thought! Mainly because of just how much theory there is involved in it all. The CCNA was both theory and hands on, the hands on was a lot more straight forward in my opinion, even the complicated stuff that was more advanced than the CCNA that i did also. But server 2012 is a completely different animal in a lot of respects! I'm at that stage were i'm panicking whether ot not i am going to be able to learn it all haha! I'm sure i'll be fine over time, i just dont know how long this will all take compared to the previous predetermined time i had set for myself.
    Hopefully once i finish the CBT nugget series on the first exam i'll then try my hand at the list and notes i have made to do on server 2012 then, hopefully after doing that things will fall into place. I'm the type that once i understand something, it comes easy to me then.
    Last edited by Robbo777; 02-06-2016 at 07:07 AM.
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    #25
    What do you do for a job at the moment and what are you trying to achieve? From your posts it sounds like you don't have any work experience of Windows Server. If that's the case then passing the MCSA won't be easy and I'm not sure how much good it will do on your CV without experience to back it up.

    I'd get a copy of the Microsoft Press 70-410 Training Guide book. That takes you through everything from the basics and gives you examples to work through.
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