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Multiple Workgroups on One Subnet

Posted on 2006-06-19
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Last Modified: 2006-11-18
I have a client that has a 10.x.y.z subnet that is served by their ISP's modem/router. Internet access is from a connection to Comcast.  The modem/router is in an equipment closet.  All the PCs are connected to the subnet thru 2 10/100 switches.  The client has about 50 PCs in an elementary school setting, not all of which are used or on at the same time.  Various departments (eg, the administrative office, the computer lab, the art and music rooms) are in their own workgroups.  There is no domain server at this location.  There is no central file server that the various PCs will hit to get their data.  I am aware of the 10 PC limitation on workgroups.  None of the workgroups have more than 10 PCs in them.  None of the PCs are using any protocol other than IP.

My question is can this client effectively have multiple workgroups on this subnet and expect to have timely delivery of packets?  They are experiencing slow response to network printing and intermittent access to other PCs in their workgroup (ability to see the other PCs in the workgroup comes and goes), which causes problems with mapped drives to shared folders in their own workgroup.  

I'm trying to avoid setting them up on a domain or requiring them to logon to the network since the staff has very little computer training or understanding beyond their everyday use of email, Office Suite and Web browsing.  What other kinds of difficulties can I expect to see, or problems would I face if they all decide to use the network at the same time?   Are there software tools I can use to analyze the network, too, that might help me to diagnose problems or view issues when they arise.  Again, I'm trying to avoid setting them up on a domain, since that would be very expensive for this non-profit (not to mention the ongoing and expensive support requirements).
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Question by:ChicagoPCDoc
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by:Jay_Jay70
ID: 16934105
yes you can have multiple workgroups but i can see you have the perfect scenario for a domain environment :) but i see your limitations

workgroups cause me more headaches than anything else, so i will say yes, you will have fun troubleshooting performance and security,and users fiddling with what they dont know, can break things big time. however in answer to your original Q, yes, you can do this

you can use ethereal to have a look at network preformance

www.ethereal.com
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by:dooleydog
ID: 16934405
BTW, there is not a physical limit or 10 workstation in a workgroup, you can have as many as you want, but performance will decrese significantly due to broadcast traffic associated with workgroup computing.

You could have satisfactory performance much of the time, but occasionally you will notice delays. This is normal for this type of over-used physical infrastructure.

I would agree with Jay_Jay70 in regards to users fiddling with things they do not know about. as well as this being a perfect scenario for a domain.

Finally, there is really no effective security when using a workgroup. The danger here is that some kid will either try to play or know how to really mess things up.

Good Luck,

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by:ChicagoPCDoc
ID: 16937405
My main concern has been the slow performance on their network.  I thought it might be related to multiple workgroups on the same subnet.  Turns out that they've recently moved a patch panel and have had performance-related issues since that time.  I suspect that they need to have some ports repunched to solve the problem.  Nonetheless, you both have effectively indicated that multiple workgroups are not an issue.  Thanks.
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LVL 48

Expert Comment

by:Jay_Jay70
ID: 16938239
no worries, i am guessing you were referring to the 10 concurrent connection issues with xp, this is what xp is acting as a server as such, multiple workgroups are fine, and also like dooleydog said, you can have as many machines in a workgroup as you want, biggest one i heard of the other day was 65! 65 machines in a WG environment, its almost a nightmare scenario!
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by:ChicagoPCDoc
ID: 16938765
65?  Nightmare indeed.  Would never happen with any of my clients!  I'd either spank them or split up the workgroups - or both.
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by:Jay_Jay70
ID: 16938803
hahah! LOL, minute there is more than 5 or so machines in a site, they get slapped with a server and domain! no exceptions
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by:ChicagoPCDoc
ID: 17199777
Turns out that my client moved into a building with a Cat 3 infrastructure, then built a Cat 5 network on it.  They failed to recognize this fact until a wiring company came in and ran a diagnostic.  Duh.  No wonder they can't get timely delivery of packets.   I have proposed a wireless solution until they can budget the thousands of dollars it woud require to upgrade their wiring infrastructure to Cat 5.  
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