Many exam candidates really don’t start
using this powerful tool until they’re studying for their more advanced
exams. However, it’s important for CCNAs, CCNPs, and candidates for
these certifications to learn their way around this site. It comes in
handy for finding default values that Cisco really enjoys asking about
on exams, and the protocol documentation found there can help you study
The site can be a little overwhelming
for newcomers, but it’s actually easy to navigate. On the site’s
homepage, you’re presented with a list of products and several drop-down
menus. To get started, I suggest you choose “Cisco IOS Software” in the
top-right drop-down menu, and select a code version. 12.2 is a good one
to start with. From there, select the IOS Release 12.2 Configuration
Guide and Command References.
You’re then presented with a list of
technologies, and each has a Configuration Guide and a Command
Reference. If you’re studying Interior Gateway Protocols at this point
(such as OSPF, RIP, and EIGRP), select “IP Configuration Guide” and then
“IP Routing Protocols”.
You then have the official Cisco
documentation on how to configure RIP, IGRP, OSPF, EIGRP, ISIS, and BGP.
Reading this documentation is invaluable. Many study guides skip the
details to give you an overview of the protocol. This documentation
doesn’t skip anything. The documentation shows how and when to use any
command for that protocol. There are also real-world examples and notes
on when to use each command. I’ve always learned something new when
reading the online Cisco documentation.
You can then back out and go through
the same steps for the Command Reference. For those studying for Cisco
exams, this section will quickly answer any question you have about a
command’s syntax or default values. Instead of trying to remember which
book you saw a value in, just zoom out to this site and you’ll have your
answer in seconds. Real-world examples of command usage are prevalent as
As with anything, the more you use the
online Cisco documentation, the better you get at it. The Configuration
Guide for the various Cisco switches give you a great picture of how
switches work. I highly recommend reading at least one of their
switches’ config guides.
Beyond any exam value the online Cisco
documentation gives you, it serves another valuable purpose. The more
you use it now, and the more comfortable you get with it, the better
you’ll be with it when the day comes that you need it on the job. And
trust me – that day will come!