If a network has 1 server, do you still need a domain controller?

Posted on 2009-04-21
Last Modified: 2012-05-06
    Suppose I  have a network with just 1 Server (running Windows Server 2008) and about 30 client PCs (running XP Pro). Does that server have to be a domain controller?
     On the one hand, I would think that every network needs to have a domain controller. But on the other hand, if you're not going to be replicating with other servers (because there are no other servers), is a domain controller still necessary?
Question by:john8217
    LVL 11

    Assisted Solution

    by:Forrest Burris
    if you want a domain infrastructure, then absolutely yes. or you have a glorified peer to peer environment with users logging in each time they want to dump files to the 'file server'. enormous benefits from going to a domain infrastructure. easy to setup. type 'dcpromo' from the run command on the 2008 server and follow the prompts to setup the domain.
    LVL 59

    Accepted Solution

    Yes, if you have more then 10 users then a domain is the best way to go. Don't think about replication or servers think about users and workstations. If you have to manage 30 workstations by themselves then you will be taking care of like 30 servers because you would be in a workgroup environment which makes each workstation like a server in theory.

    If you have a domain environment then you would then manage all users additions, permissions, workstations, group polices, etc from the one server which is the DC. This is easy to manage and the way to go.
    LVL 19

    Assisted Solution

    If you intend on utilizing Active Directory and joining your machines to a single domain, then a domain controller is necessary.  Are all computers in a workgroup now?  I assume so if you have no domain controller availalbe.  Adding a DC and joining all users/computers to the domain will provide a number of benefits.

    1.  Centralized account management and administration. User and computer accounts may be managed via AD rather than remotely managing the machines and users via each remote machine.
    2.  Shared file and print resources is much easier on a domain rather than managing rights on each workstation.
    3.  With Active Directory, you can leverage Group Policy to automatically modify settings, configuration and application settings across all machines at once.


    Author Comment

        Right now the 1 server we have is Windows Server 2003. But soon we will replace that with another server that has Windows Server 2008. So I asked that question in preparation of when the new replacement server comes. I just checked our current (2003) server, one of its roles is that of a domain controller, so I guess it is a domain controller.
         For some reason, I thought you could have a domain in which the 1 sever is not a domain controller (it would just be a member server), but I guess that is impossible, right?
    LVL 59

    Expert Comment

    by:Darius Ghassem
    Since your current server is a DC then you are going to have to migrate to 2008. Below are step by step guides on migrating over to 2008.

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