When it comes to technology training, it seems like you're usually stuck with one of two options: either take the time-consuming route of finding the solutions you need in forums, blogs, and free websites, or bite the bullet and plunk down a hefty fee for the books, videos, or classes you need.

I've compiled seven websites that offer free or low-cost training videos on a variety of topics. Some of these are more technical than others; some are focused on certifications and some are just general information. Because, after all, sometimes the answer you're looking for isn't even from an administrator role—it could just be how to find a menu option in that blasted ribbon!

These sites are listed alphabetically, so the order is not based on quality. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages.

CBT Nuggets—CBT Nuggets is a site that sells training CDs on a plethora of topics, from the usual Microsoft/Cisco/CompTIA to Citrix, Linux, and SQL. While these video series cost about $300, if you register for the site (which is free), you can access the first 30-minute video in each of these series. That might not seem that valuable, but typically that first video is going to give you an introduction into the topic, and tell you what you need to know to master that topic (or complete that certification).

ClipTraining—ClipTraining is a less technical training site, but you may find the videos useful for providing introductions and overviews into a variety of topics. ClipTraining has videos on topics such as Windows 7, Microsoft Office, SharePoint, and Hyper-V. The best thing about ClipTraining is that the videos are short (under 5 minutes) and to the point. While only the first few in each series are free, you can access all the videos on the site for $25/month or $75/year.

CustomGuide—Somewhat similar to ClipTraining, CustomGuide is a site with videos of more basic topics, such as Microsoft Office. Preview videos are available for free--one of the things I like about these videos is they actually make you follow along, clicking where you're supposed to click to accomplish each task. I had a little trouble figuring out how to purchase the full videos on the site though, so you might need to contact the company if you're interested.

ittv.net—ittv.net is a Windows IT Pro site dedicated to IT videos, including product demos, interviews with company representatives, and how-to videos. While few of the videos are related to certifications, you can find many useful screencasts and videos.

TrainSignal—TrainSignal has a number of free videos on Cisco and CompTIA topics. These videos are more in-depth than the free videos offered by most of the other sites, even though the topic selection is limited. So, if you have interest in one of the topics listed on the page linked at the beginning of this paragraph, you're in luck!

YouTube—I know what you're thinking…YouTube? But if you take the time to do some targeted searching on YouTube, you'll find that there's a wealth of IT information here. Interested in a new product? You can usually find a demo. Miss a tradeshow? You can almost always find the keynote. Have a very specific question? Try a search and see what you find.

Winstructor—Winstructor has single training videos in a few dozen topics for $7.95 each. That's certainly not free, but if you have a very specific question or interest in a specific topic, Winstructor is a great way to get the answer fast at a low cost.

I'm sure I've hardly even scratched the surface on free and low-cost training video sites, so please add your favorites in the comments section or send me a note via Twitter or email.

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