I’m often asked which is the best way to learn Exchange Server 2010. People are interested in either learning about Exchange Server 2010 for their job, or they want to learn about it so that they can pass the Microsoft certification exams.
The best Exchange Server 2010 training option for you will really depend on how you prefer to learn new skills. Some people like books, some like videos, and some just like to get hands on. So here are my recommendations for the different ways for you to do Exchange Server 2010 training.
How to Learn Exchange Server 2010 for Free
The cheapest way to do Exchange Server 2010 training is, obviously, to do it for free.
You can get free access to a series of video training modules in the Exchange 2010 Boot Camp.
Or if you’d prefer to use different training materials, then all it takes is a little bit of effort to seek out the resources that you will need.
First of all there is the software. The basic components you will need are:
- Windows Server 2008 64-bit – you can download the 180-day evaluation version here.
- Exchange Server 2010 – you can download the SP2 build here, and it will run for 120 days in trial mode. The certification exams are mostly aligned with RTM, and SP1 did change a few things so make sure you learn the differences if you plan to sit the exams.
If you’d rather get a pre-configured Exchange 2010 lab environment you could also download the Exchange Server 2010 VHD packages.
The next thing you need if you plan to sit the certification exams is the exam preparation guides.
- For exam 70-662 (MCTS: Microsoft Exchange Server 2010, Configuring) the preparation guide is here
- For exam 70-663 (MCITP: Designing and Deploying Messaging Solutions with Microsoft Exchange Server 2010) the preparation guide is here
Work through the list of skills measured for each, and seek out the documentation that explains each of those items.
You’ll find all of it documented in the Exchange Server TechCenter on TechNet. The TechNet information for Exchange Server 2010 is actually very good, though sometimes it would benefit from more diagrams. The biggest downsides to using TechNet is that the content is not always structured in a way that makes sense for training.
Exchange Server 2010 Training Books
If you’re looking for more of an structured, instructional approach to learning Exchange 2010 then the official training kits from Microsoft Press are a good option. These training kits align with the skills measured in the exam preparation guides. They are written as a learning tool, with good explanations and step by step demonstrations, rather than being a reference like TechNet.
I used to avoid getting training books because their size and weight made it impractical to carry them with me each day, but these days with ebooks and the Kindle for PC software it is a lot more convenient to have a library of these types of technical books on hand for training and reference.
Each exam has it’s own training kit. The books for exam 70-662 and exam 70-663 are both available from good book sellers. If you’re shopping for books I also recommend you pick up a copy of Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 Best Practices which is an invaluable reference.
Exchange Server 2010 Training Programs
For the last few years my personal favourite learning method has been video training. For some reason I just enjoy the format more and tend to learn faster. I can sit through a few hours of video in one session, whereas with books I tend to last only an hour or so without taking lots of breaks.
I also like that video lets me see Exchange Server 2010 in action even at times when I am away from any Exchange servers to work with. And most video training also comes with audio versions as well. I’ve spent a lot of time in my car driving long distances for work while listening to Exchange 2010 training MP3s on my iPod.
The video training costs more than books, but if you prefer video and audio like I do then they are worth paying the extra for. I scored 978 and 962 when I sat the two exams and I think the Train Signal courses had a lot to do with that.
Which Exchange Server 2010 Training is Best for You?
So with all of these options available which one should you choose? My recommendations are:
- If you’re on a tight budget and have no money to spend, start with the Exchange 2010 Boot Camp, or download the trial software or the VHD images and use TechNet to get started
- If you’ve got a little money to spend then go for the Microsoft Press training books
- If you can afford the video training courses and like me you learn faster from video, then order those
- If you can afford a TechNet subscription to go along with any of the above training options, I highly recommend you get one
I hope you found that useful in answering some of your Exchange Server 2010 training questions. If you have any further questions please feel free to ask them in the comments below or get in touch with me using the contact form on this site.