What is the best way to test the installation of windows 2012 R2 with Active Directory

Good evening experts,

I am about to get back into networking with a new job on Monday and I want to bone up on a few technologies. I am asking what is the best way to perform a test installation of windows server  2012 R2. I want to put on the installation:

1. Active Directory
2. DNS
4. Exchange 2013

Would my best option be simply to install Vmware on my laptop, which has 8 gigs of ram and a terrabyte hardrive. It is an inspiron  I7 intel core machine. Keep in mind this is only for training purposes.

If Vmware is the way to go , please recommend which version should I use. If you recommend another virtual software , please let me know what it is.

I hope I have made my needs clear. Thank you for your anticipated responses
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Have you tried VMWare Player?  It's free and pretty straight-forward.  There's also Oracle VirtualBox which is a free program as well, but I prefer VMWare:

BLACK THANOSAuthor Commented:
what version of vmware do you recommend
JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
If you wish to use VMware, I recommend (and use) VMware Workstation V11. You can install Server 2012 as a client and the VMware Network Editor will assist with the connections you need (unless you just use Bridged Networking).

What you want for the Server is a connection to the outside world and the Network Editor is good for this.

Your machine has enough space and memory for one server guest.
Creating Active Directory Users from a Text File

If your organization has a need to mass-create AD user accounts, watch this video to see how its done without the need for scripting or other unnecessary complexities.

BLACK THANOSAuthor Commented:
Thank you for the input John.  When you say, "Your machine has enough space and memory for one server guest", I am assuming you mean I can only install a single vm of server 2012 on my laptop with the aforementioned:

1. Active Directory
2. DNS
4. Exchange 2013
JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
One TB of disk will hold a number of virtual machines. I have 7 or 8 machines of various sizes on my half TB disk.

But 8 GB is enough memory to keep the host happy and run one server guest. To run more guests you would need to have 16 Gb of memory. 8 Gb is enough to get you going for sure.

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BLACK THANOSAuthor Commented:
Thanks for the clarification.
JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
@BLACK THANOS  - You are very welcome and I was happy to help.
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