Sunday, April 24, 2016

Free MCSA 2008 and 2012 Resources

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This blog was originally started in order to post my collection of Free CCNA Resources.  To date, versions 1 and 2 of that post are my top two posts in terms of traffic.  And depending on when you check, version 1 is the second or third hit in Google for that search term, right behind a great post at the Cisco Learning Network and the Free CCNA Workbook.  Not bad company to be in.

I'm now starting this collection for MCSA resources.  I'm not differentiating between 2008 and 2012, because there is so much overlap.  The 2012 exams will cover material that is present on the 2008 exams in addition to the new bits and pieces in 2012 and 2012R2.  

As with the Free CCNA Resources post, this will be a living document that will be updated as additional resources are discovered or existing items disappear from the Internet.

Getting the Bits

The most important part of any certification chase is the hands on portion, and the MCSA is no different.  There's two common ways of going about this.  Like any other labbing, I highly suggest against experimenting with the production environment at work for obvious reasons.

First, you can download an evaluation copy of Windows Server and build a few virtual machines on your computer(s) at home.  Unfortunately for those who wish to pursue the MCSA 2008 route, the evaluation copies only come in 2012, 2012r2 and 2016 Technical Preview.  While there is nothing in 2008R2 that is not also in 2012 and up, things are in different places and Server Manager is a completely different beast, so it'll be a little tricky.  Windows 8.1 and 10 Enterprise editions are also available.

Second, you can utilize Microsoft's Virtual Labs, also at Technet.  This gives you access to predesigned labs that you can complete in 90 minutes or less. While convenient, you miss out on a lot of things not starting from scratch on your own.

Technet Evaluation Center
Technet Virtual Labs


Free eBooks from Microsoft Press - Bookmark this link and check back regularly.  Microsoft adds new books here regularly that you can download in multiple formats.
Largest collection of FREE Microsoft eBooks ever - I'm not sure how much, if any, overlap there is with the Free eBooks from Microsoft Press link above, but I'll include this here in case there's anything unique here.

Video Series

I'm going to avoid all of the various Microsoft YouTube channels because those seem to duplicate the content available on the Microsoft Virtual Academy. 

Microsoft Virtual Academy - An amazing free resource with material for all things Microsoft. 
BJTechNews Blog - Posts a lot of MS Certification related content in addition to content related to other technology topics such as gaming.
CBT Nuggets - A popular paid for video producer.  This is their YouTube channel where they post a lot of great free content.
ITFreeTraining - Posts a lot of content that is certification related as well as content that is not. 
PeteNetLive - If you've looked up a few things on Google, you've surely come across Pete's blog.  It's amazing.
Pluralsight IT - Like CBT Nuggets, Pluralsight is a popular paid for video producer.  And like CBT Nuggets, they post a lot of great free content on their YouTube channel.  
System Administrator - While not necessarily certification focused, there is a ton of great content delivered via long videos.

Step by Step Guides

MCSA Lab Manual Articles - Great collection focused on Server 2012R2

Active Directory on Server 2008
Active Directory, Move from 2003 to 2008
Active Directory, Move from 2008R2 to 2012R2
ADAM - the legacy Active Directory Application Mode
AD CS Step by Step Guide 1 - Single Tier PKI Hierarchy Deployment.
AD CS Step by Step Guide 2 - Two tier PKI Hierarchy Deployment.
AD FS 2.0 - Multiple guides related to AD FS 2.0.
AD LDS - Multiple guides related to LDS.
Advanced Group Policy Management
AppLocker Step by Step Guide
Encryption File System - This one is a downloadable PDF.
Failover Cluster - Setup a 2 node file server failover cluster.
Group Managed Service Accounts - A new feature with Server 2012
DHCP Step by Step Guide - Multiple DHCP related guides.
DNS - Setup and configure DNS on 2008R2
Hyper-V on Windows Core
Microsoft iSCSI Initiator
Multipath I/O - A guide from Technet
Multipath I/O - Another guide from another source
SQL Server - Dont just run a local instance of WID for everything.  Get serious and build a database server in your lab.  ADMT, WSUS, and Sharepoint will thank you.
SQL Server - Another guide in PDF format.
Trusted Platform Module Management
VPN-Based Remote Access
Windows Deployment Services- Installation
Windows Deployment Services - Configuration
Windows Deployment Services - Deploy Windows 10
Windows Server 2003 Guides - For when you're trying to save your resources and run something on 2003.
WSUS 3.0 SP1

Great Blogs

Adrian Costea's Blog - Numerous topics related to Microsoft and VMWare
Aidan Finn, IT Pro - A real go-to resource for Hyper-V, but lots of other great stuff as well.
Born to Learn - Microsoft's certification related blog, contributed to by a number of Microsoft personalities.
Exchange Server Pro - Paul Cunningham is the Exchange expert. While this site is Exchange focused, there's a lot of great content you'll find useful.
Jason Helmick - The Pluralsight and MVA man blogs about DevOps, PowerShell, Azure, and IIS.
Mark Russinovich's Blog - I came to know Mark because of his work with Sysinternals, and his books are well know as well.  This blog hasn't been updated in some time, but there's a lot of great reading on Windows Azure here.
Mark Wilson - Mark has a ton of content on Azure, Office 365 and even an occasional post on Cisco or Barracuda. - A blog with multiple contributors talking all things PowerShell.
Regular IT Guy - You should recognize Rick Claus from the Microsoft Virtual Academy.  If you don't, you should watch more content there, and follow Rick on Twitter.
Richard Hicks' DirectAccess Blog - The name says it all.  All things DirectAccess.
Tim Bolton - MCITP - MCTS - Tim blogs about a wide range of Microsoft technologies.

Other Great Websites

Google - If you can't find it here, you're not going to find it.
Microsoft Technet - Not to be confused with Microsoft's old software subscription model, this is THE documentation source for all things Microsoft.


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