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Domain -vs- Workgroup

Posted on 2009-07-15
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2013-12-02
I'm struggling with a Domain -vs- Workgroup decision.  I am building a server for my son's fraternity house that will fill a need for file sharing and personal storage.  There will be about 70 user accounts.  They need a public folder for file sharing and each member will have a secure folder for file storage.  I'd rather not create a domain if I can help it because of the user profile issues joining the domain will cause on the member's laptops (and I don't want to deal with the inevitable phone calls about user accounts).  Thus, I'm leaning toward installing a WinXP box with a terabyte of storage, setting up a workgroup, and teaching them how to join the workgroup and add accounts to Windows XP.

I'm looking for the brains on this site to either validate my thoughts or point out something I have not considered.  Thanks in advance!
Question by:timabe
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Author Comment

ID: 24864999
There is another option:  Does anyone have any experience with the Buffalo Terrastation?  It looks like it will manage user security itself, eliminating the need for a server and user accounts.  
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Expert Comment

by:John Hurst
ID: 24865293
Whether you use a Domain or Workgroup, XP does not make a good file server and for 70 persons it will likely drown. You probably need a small business server, or, if some one know how to set it up for Windows users - a small Linux server. ... Thinkpads_User

Expert Comment

ID: 24865666
First and foremost what is your budget for this little operation?  If its for a fraternity house, I would personally want it to be expandable not just a file server.  Maybe host their Frat house website, along with calendar events, pictures to sare with the rest of the campus and or family and friends.  Install maybe phpbb3 and have the run their own myspace so to speak.  Small business server is where i would go.  It comes with Exchange server so they will be agle to have their mail server where they can admin.  Possibilities are endless.  I gues what im trying to say is DOMAIN all they way.  And you need help let me know.  
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Accepted Solution

zorionterrell earned 2000 total points
ID: 24866970
Really Depends on their budget. SBS is good, but has a limit of 75 and you have to buy a MS CAL for each user($$$$). How much I/O do you think they will be using. Will be this be their main Storage for all their data, or do they just want a secure location to store important data for backup and a folder to pass files?

If you are going to build a system to host hard drives with data, you want it to be on a RAID-5 configuration. You need at least 3 identical hard drives for this and a raid controller. This will allow for redandancy should one of the drives ever fail.

To host a windows file sever, you cannot use windows XP. Its not designed to deal with amount of requests 70 clients will put on it.
You also dont need to join the client computers to a windows domain to be able to access the files. If a Windows Sever is setup in a workgroup, local user accounts created and assigned to folders, when a client acceses the UNC path (\\servername\share) windows will ask for the login credentials.

Another thing to consider is how will all the systems be aquiring IP Addresses and DNS. Is this a location with some sort of network already established?

There are so many things to consider when planning Network Storage for a large group of users.

Take a look at Windows Server 2008 Foundation. http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserver2008/en/us/foundation.aspx

Would be Perfect for what you want to do at a lower cost.

Hope this Helps a bit. I know i've just thrown a lot at you. If you'd like to talk more we can communicate via email. Let me know.

Author Comment

ID: 24869934
Great points.  XP is probably a bad idea, and I have a license for SBS I can donate.  I guess I could just set it up in a workgroup and solve most of my problems (except the inevitable admin issues).

Any comments about the Buffalo Terrastaion III?  Raid 5, web administration, and it looks like it would be easy to teach someone how to administer.  Am I missing something here?

Expert Comment

ID: 24870568
A NAS like the Terrastation paired with a SBS would work. Unless there is already a network infrustructure that handles DHCP and DNS, in which case no need for SBS. My only concern is i cannot tell how many users the Terrastation will allow.

Another Option is to go Open-Source. Its a little more tricky to administer, but can be done 100% (except for hardware of course). The 2 Server i would i reccomend looking into would be either FreeBSD (freebsd.org) or Ubuntu Server. Both can handle DNS, DHCP, LDAP NFS, SMB. Everything you need for a deployment of Network Storage with user specific file/folder permissions.

Author Closing Comment

ID: 31604020
Thanks for the tips.  I'll probably give the Buffalo NAS a try.  They already have firewall and wireless router that some kid installed, so I should be able to skip the SBS box (I hope) .  The NAS has the added benefit of being easy to hide - a key benefit when dealing with a bunch of knuckleheads!

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