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Networking Windows Server 2003

Hello Guys:

I need your help and your opinions on the following project that I will be doing the next few days:

Networking Microsoft Server 2003:

One Server (2003)
8 PCs (XP Home Edition)
1 laptop (XP Home Edition)
2 Printers

What are the pointers I need to consider here? Hardware and software-wise? What about cabling?

Is it not complicated to network server 2003 with XP machines?

Please help.
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1 Solution
Chris DentPowerShell DeveloperCommented:

Did you intend installing the Server as a Domain Controller? If so, XP Home edition cannot join a domain (that needs XP Professional).

Do you have an Internet connection to consider?

You'll probably need a hub, or better still a switch to connect all those PCs together. You probably have that though?

What would you like to do once you have it set up?
gudbuddyAuthor Commented:
Do I have to install it as a Domain Controller? I think that should it be, right? Its going to be a stand alone server and all other PCs should be networked with it.

Its what I thought, I can not do it with XP Home.. it will only do on XP Pro and Win2K, am i right?

We have an internet connection which is the Verizon DSL. I have a hub and a router from the DSL Modem.

Its for work-office purposes... to share resources within a small office.

Please more inputs .. thank you!!

You can network the XP Home machines, but you will not be able to join them to a domain, unless you upgrade them to XP Pro.

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Chris DentPowerShell DeveloperCommented:

Okay... there's not much point in installing it as a Domain Controller, you don't have anything that can join the domain to make it worthwhile. So just a standalone server.

You should definately consider something to protect yourself (preferably a Firewall and some Anti Virus software) from the rather nasty viruses that are floating around at the moment, I think the time to attempted infection after connecting to the internet is down to about 5 minutes.

I recommend installing a DHCP Service on the server, that'll happily look after all your IP Addressing (the range is probably the most appropriate). You may find your Router already does this.

To prevent continual Access Denied and password prompts you'd have to create matching local accounts on the Server (matching with the Computer accounts).
Chris DentPowerShell DeveloperCommented:

And yeah, you can network Windows XP Home, you just can't join it to a Domain ;)
Hi there.

I realize this is a small office, but it might be worth your while to upgrade each client machine to WXP Pro, and make the W2K3 Server a domain controller. Doing this will give you more control over your network. You'll be able to centrally manage the network.

For instance, you can use Group Policy to control the client machines. This includes controlling Windows Update settings, Firewall settings for clients with WXP SP2, controlling IE settings, hiding control panel icons if necessary, and Software Installtion to name a few. Group policy gives you centralized control options for all machines that are part of the domain. Controlling them from the server eliminates having to administer each machine separately. This will come in especially handy for user accounts. With a domain conroller, you can use Active Directory to centrally manage all the users on the network. On the flip side, with a Workgroup type network, you'll have to administer each individual user account on each individual machine. This becomes a tedious task very quickly.

Here's a couple of functions I mentioned that you can tackle with W2K3 as a domain controller.

Remotely Install Software

Control Internet Explorer Settings

Hide Control Panel Tools

Good luck in the setup!

gudbuddyAuthor Commented:
Can I upgrade the PCs to Win2K instead of XP Pro?

I think its better to have it as a domain controller... but with 9 users is it worth it?

If I dont do a domain controller... can it do administrative funcstions too? I am very particular with its security issues.

As far as I know, you can't "upgrade" from WXP Home to Win2K Pro. That would be moving backwards. The only way to really put W2K on each machine would be to dump the contents from each drive and install a clean version of Windows 2000 Pro.

Now, will W2K machines work on a domain with a W2K3 Server as the domain controller? Yes, these machines will work fine. You won't be able to use some of the features that you'd otherwise have available in WXP Pro (like Remote Desktop), but that may be a minor concern on a small network.

I have a network with about 15 users, and I use a domain controller. The ability to centrally manage most functions of the network make it well worth it. Also, if you think about it, Microsoft developed Windows 2003 Small Business Server for businesses with 75 users or less. That product can only be setup in the domain controller configuration. Yes, SBS has many other features preinstalled as part of the operating system that require a domain controller, but SBS is mainly for small businesses without IT expertise. It uses mostly wizards to allow a non-IT person to setup the server and manage the network. But, it's still a domain controller that provides that central management ability for non-IT personnel that don't have a lot of time to spend configuring and maintaining the network.

Hope that helps you out.
gudbuddyAuthor Commented:
OK. I will upgrade all the PCs to XP Pro then. Here are my simple questions which I understand are simple for you:

1) Are there some resources that I can read or get how to do all these process? like, do I have to upgrade all PCs to XP Pro first and then install the server W2k3 and let these PCs join the domain?

2) 1 PC contains very important files on Quickbooks, what is the best way to back this up? I was thinking to do an exact duplicate of the PC but won't it affect it on XP Pro since it is from XP Home to XP Pro? If I will do exact copy of that PC's content, what is the best tool to use?

3) We have a DSL modem from Verizon, how and what is the best way to connect the W2K3 server as a domain controller and all other 8 PCs all connected on a network and share internet connection? What are the tools and equipments to i need?

4) If anybody can give me a step by step and precise procedure in doing all the above please.

I am adding another 100 points for this question because I think I am asking too much answers.

Thank you so much.
1) Upgrading to XP & Installing W2K3 Server
Windows XP - Upgrade Center

Windows 2003 Server Deployment Kit

2) Backup of Data
PC Magaizine lists some backup product options that might help you accomplish your goal. I'd suggest Norton Ghost or a Veritas product if they have a small desktop backup version in your price range.

3) DSL Modem & Internet Connection
Here's a Small Office Network Hardware Guide

4) Step by Step Guide

If you haven't already purchased Windows 2003, I would suggest using Windows 2003 Small Business Server. It is already a domain controller and has many wizards built in to setting up a network. It's aimed at making network setup and management easy for non-IT personnel.

If these articles aren't enough to help you get the network setup, then I would suggest maybe hiring some outside help. Your question says that you are setting up the network in the "next couple of days." It could easily take you that long to just read through all of this documentation, and maybe longer if setting up a network is somewhat new for you.

Hiring outside help for a small business, especially in a technical aspect such as this, can be much cheaper in the long run.

Consider these:
1) If your backup does not take, or has problems, what is the cost of that data that you lost? Figure the time you'll have to take to rebuild the data, plus what inefficient customer service you'll be providing without that data.

2) If your project deadline is 2-3 days for setup, and it takes 2-3 weeks, what is the cost of the time lost? Not only your time, but the cost of time for other employees that did not have access to their data and computing resources. If 4 people are unproductive for half of the day (4 hours), then 16 man hours have been lost just that day. Multiply those 16 man hours by their average salary, and add that amount to the total time lost.

3) Internet connection setup is tricky, and an incorrect setup could allow for numerous viruses, worms, trojan horses, or intrusions. Again, what is the cost of all that data on your network? Can you afford to have a virus wipe out all of your data? Can you afford to be without computing resources for half the day? If you're company sells $10,000 per day, and your computing resources are down for half the day, you've just lost $5,000. That's a quick and dirty estimation I use to figure out what down time costs.

Hiring an outside consultant to setup your network may cost $150 - $200 per hour, but they may be done in 8-10 hours total, if that. In that case, you're spending between $1200 - $2000 for them to setup your network and you're off and running.

Now all these numbers are just thrown out there as an example. You'll have to plug in your own company numbers and figure this out, but in this example, paying $2000 for a professionally installed network makes more sense than being down half of the day and losing out on $5000 in sales.

Hopefully this information is helpful for you.
Again, good luck!
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