GNS3 vs Packet Tracer

a month ago

In this article I will talk about new Cisco CCNA 200-301 exam, especially what is needed to be prepared for the exam. In my opinion, the most critical piece is practicing the theory you’ve learned. There are several ways how to practice your knowledge. I have experience with 2 software for practicing networking and I would like to review and compare them and hopefully it will help you with your studies.


- open source, emulator software

- number of devices depends on your hardware (CPU, RAM…)

- option to run it in the cloud (from version 2.0) – you can run the GUI on your PC and all heavy computing operations on remote server (e.g.

- no limitation to run the GNS3 on one PC only. You can run several instances on multiple PCs connected via internet and build huge topologies.

- supports various device types and vendors (e.g. Juniper, PaloAlto etc.).

- can be run locally or on virtual machine. I recommend VMware Player as it is free.

- big advantage is community. You can ask people online for help when you fall into problems

- one of the biggest disadvantages and most common question is “Where do I get images?” Some vendors (e.g. Arista) offer their images for free however Cisco doesn’t. You need to get the Cisco image on your own.

- there is option to buy VIRL License and get access to multiple images.

Packet Tracer:

- Cisco provides this software for free to registered students (registration is also free).

- Unlike GNS3, this is network simulator and it doesn’t support all Cisco IOS commands.

- allows you to simulate complex topologies.

- is easy to install and easy to use – big advantage for novices.

- contains various network device (Routers, switches. Firewalls …) and servers.

If you are studying for Cisco CCNA, I believe Packet Trace is enough as it allows you to practice all CCNA topics. It is not perfect and there are lot of command missing but it has pretty enough to give you a good foundation and understanding in networking. If you are new in networking you don’t need to care about images and other virtualization software, you just need to install it and you are good to go. Later, once you have more experience you can take a look at GNS3 or EVE-NG (other emulator software).

I hope this article was beneficial for you and gave you good review of software for practicing the networking.