Router Simulators – Useful or Useless?
We are often asked for opinions on router simulators. Many people
rate them very highly as a study tool for the CCNA. Of course
there are opinions for and against them so perhaps I can add a
few comments for both sides.
Router simulator quality has improved over the past few years and
now many sims behave in a very similar way to the real thing. The
more advanced sims can also allow you to build your own network
and configure several different type of scenarios to test all the
areas you will be expected to know for the CCNA
Convenience – you don’t have to carry or cable up bulky equipment
and you can easily use them on your PC at work or at home when
you have a spare few minutes.
Price – it all depends on which version you buy but you can get
CCNA router sims for $99 to $499 depending upon where you go.
Versatility – modern router sims are designed to allow you to
configure a wide range of scenarios depending upon how you have
the network set up.
Safety – you can’t accidentally break a simulated network or
wipe the operating system.
They are not real – yes, I know I am pointing out the obvious here
but this is my point. Would you fly in an aircraft with a pilot
who had only every flown in a simulator? Aircraft simulators are
a vital part of a pilots training but no replacement for the real
You MUST chalk up many hours of hands on experience on live
Cisco routers and switches if you are to pass the exam and be
confident during job interviews and doing Cisco support for real.
No cables – being able to cable up your network is a vital skill
for a Cisco engineer. You can’t cable up a simulator.
Nearly Like – because they are software simulators we have found
that you get a ‘nearly like’ a real router experience. You
cannot use a lot of the shortcut commands with them, they will
never behave like a real router or network such as flapping
interfaces, cables connected incorrectly or bent pins and you will
lack the granularity of using a full Cisco IOS feature set.
We will be doing a review of the various models of router sim
available on the market early in the new year. If you have any
suggestions about the ones you want including please drop us a
line at firstname.lastname@example.org
For an aid to study, router sims can be a useful tool but please
don’t kid yourself that it counts towards hands on experience.
Don’t be too surprised if you come to configure live routers and
switches and they behave very differently to simulators.