Joined: Thu Nov 11, 2010 3:30 pm
I passed CompTIA’s Server+ Exam (SK0-003) on Wednesday morning. I wanted to post my thoughts on the exam because compared to the other “main” CompTIA exams (A+, Network+, Security+), there’s a paucity of information on SK0-003.
I took the exam because it was a topic I wanted to learn more about. We have three Windows 2003 servers in my clinic which were set up before I began working there. Besides overseeing the backups, I just let them do their own thing. I know one day one will fail and I’ll be called upon to rebuild a new one, so I thought I’d start learning about it now. Plus I thought this cert would look good on my resume. I’ve read on other forums two different insights on Server+ which I thought were useful. The first was: Server+ is like A+ for enterprise. The second was: Network+ is for network administrators, Server+ is for system administrators. I guess there’s a grain of truth in there, so I always kept them in mind while I studied.
I bought one of the only self-study books I could find, AXZO Press’ spiral bound behemoth, for about $70. This book is about the size of a telephone book and, looking back, it contains way more information than you’ll need. I’m guessing CompTIA sent Axzo a list of exam topics, and Axzo tried to cram in the kitchen sink to cover everything from Ethernet cabling to form factors to HDMI. I’m a meticulous studier, so I went through page by page and wrote down flashcards on index cards. When I was finished I had ten stacks of 90 cards each (not kidding… thank Athena my local dollar store stocks index cards.) I began reading last spring, and just took the test in February, but admittedly I had some pretty big gaps where I put the book down and didn’t pick it up for months. I should also add that I’m the one-man IT Department for a medium-sized non-profit with approximately 80 users, 50 PCs, and three servers, so I’m around this stuff five out of seven days a week.
One other note about study materials: Besides the Axzo book, the only other book I’ve heard that is dedicated to this exam is Lau’s (sp?) available on Kindle for about $10. I’ve never used this, but people in other forums have recommended it. You don’t need a Kindle to read it, but you do need the Kindle app (which is available for free for your PC or SmartPhone). The other caveat is there seems to be many Server+ books, but not for the 2009 objectives. When you check out study guides or practice exams, make sure they say SK0-003. I’d also recommend ExamWorx.com’s TestNow (or Test Now), which I purchased from Ebay for about $7).
As for the exam itself, all I can say is know your RAID levels: names, minimum number of disks, read and write times, effective storage. Of any single topic, that was the one which came up most frequently. If cost is not a factor, which level gives the greatest performance with a certain number of disks? If a user has this amount of space, and next year will upgrade to this amount of space, how many disks and what configuration should he implement now? There were two or three IP address questions and a handful of SCSI questions. I’d say the test was divided half between hard, memorize-able facts (ie., what’s the max number of devices on IDE?) and Best Practice questions (given this problem, what would be the FIRST step?). Remember, you always want to warn the users of a possible outage.
It’s been 48 hours and I’m racking my brain trying to remember other questions:
Front bus versus rear bus
Different cooling options (for CPUs and for racks)
Which servers should be placed in the DMZ
Backup schemes (but not as many questions as I would have thought)
Two questions that threw me for a loop were on memory RAID (never saw that before in any of my books) and the DC server (I couldn’t figure out what that was – are they trying to say DHCP? – until Googled it later and found it was the Domain Controller… oooohhh).
No matter which CompTIA exam you sit for, I’d recommend reading the question twice. I’ve had a few questions present a problem, and the answers are all things I would try in real life. But looking back, the question asks which is needed to ISOLATE (not SOLVE) the problem. Ah, tricky, CompTIA!
Anyways, I probably should have spent a few more days studying, but I was going away on vacation that afternoon and wanted to get it off my plate before I left. So I leapt in and passed by the skin of my teeth… but a pass is still a pass.
If you’re inclined to take Server+, I would recommend going for it soon after A+ or Network+. Many of the topics are redundant and it helps to study for them while they’re fresh.
I had thought of signing off CompTIA exams and begin specializing, but they’ve added a few more certs in the last year that look too interesting to turn away. Next up for me – Healthcare IT.
Thanks again for all you do, Professor Messer.