Windows web server 2008 as a file server

Posted on 2009-12-21
Last Modified: 2012-05-08

We are currently using SBS2003 as a local file / print server. We also use it to run a network sage line 50.

What I wanted was windows foundation server as it fit our needs perfectly, but this is not abailable in 32 bit for our server. We are only an office of 5 computers  - we ldo use the remotre desktop functionality - but we would want to continue to use our router to be the DHCP controller. I would also might be interested in some of the Hyper-V stuff to run xp software on there as well.

Is there anything to prevent Windows Web Server 2008 to be used a a file / print server? It is significatntly cheaper than the otehr versions and if so would be perfect for what we are after.

Many Thanks

Question by:alexealden
    LVL 74

    Expert Comment

    by:Glen Knight
    You should really be looking to upgrade to SBS2008 than replace SBS with a regular Windows server.  I doubt Web Server will come anywhere near to meeting your needs there is very different licensing etc.  Your better talking to Microsoft about that.

    Author Comment

    Thanks to be honest with you , all I really want is pretty much  the functionality that windows xp pro had, i.e. the ability to share folders and map to them from other computers / share printers etc. Along with the reliablitly of windows server plus the extra RDP funtionaility.

    SBS seems to be aimed at doing much more than I need from it. i.e. the thing with it having to be the DHCP server, in my case this is overkillas  my router does that job just fine..

    I am going to install a copy of web server on a spare machine I have got and see how it goes I am just loooking for any potential flaws in this plan, or any cast iron reasons why it would not work.

    I am thinking if it a more expensive falvour than foundation then it should essentially do everything that foundation does which would be more than enough for me..what do you think?


    LVL 7

    Expert Comment

    Based on your organizational size (and probably budget) you may also want to consider VMWare's ESXi. This VM product allows you to build multiple OS's (for free) onto a single system, this way you can test your SBS and Server 08 Web installations as well (on top of XP, 08' core, and more). Just keep in mind that you'll need plenty of storage and memory to run multiple VM's simultaneously.
    LVL 74

    Expert Comment

    by:Glen Knight
    As far as I understand it web edition is a very cut down version of Standard designed to be lightweight and efficient in the delivery if web content.

    If all you have is 5 users and your really only want to use XP as an OS on the server then why don't you use Vista or Windows 7 which will allow for upto 10 connections?

    The disadvantage if course in this or web edition is you don't have any centralised user/policy/printer management.  You couldn't use Exchange. You won't be able to use Hyper-V on web edition.

    Personally if you don't need to I wouldn't move away from SBS.  Moving to a product that is not designed for purpose is going to cause you nothing but problems.

    I have SBS installations with as little as 5 users and I certainly would not recommend anything else.

    I suggest you get someone in who specialises in Small Businesses and ask them to provide you with some ideas on how to do things properly.

    Be carefull with the above comment "Multiple OS's(for free)" you will still need valid licences for the operating systems you are installing so whilst the core product is free the Windows OS's are not.  Depending on your hardware you may not be able to use ESX anyway and you might be better off using Virtual PC or VMWare server which are both free products and install onto a standard Windows OS

    Author Comment

    Hi Thanks Dematzer,

    Windows 7 woudl be fine, but I think the way it handles RDP is different? We do use the RDP a fair bit. In addition as good as W7 it is no where near as reliable as server 2008, nor does it need to be. With server I can have it running for months without a restart .. there is no way I coudl do that with w7...

    I know you are advising against it, but it seems MS made Foundation reconginisng the need in the market for people like us who just want a solid file / app server without all of teh complexity. Which is the way I want to use web server which shoudl have all of what foundation has. I would never consider using exchange ...  we use Google apps for our email on multiple domains.

    Again in terms of print sharing, I would never want user level print sharing.. I did look into upgrading to SBS 2008. But firstly I found that SBS literally forces you into an overly complex setup that I just dont need which made it very tricky to setup .. by insisting that it be the DHCP controller, from many people's perspective it seems a big ask to spend so much time learning to do something that my router does out of the box!

    On top of this it looks expensive, perhaps more than web server. the pricing is not clear as you cannot just purchase it off  the shelf - As always MS seems to be tricky, they release foundation as a budget solution and then onlyt make it available bundled with new hardware and 64 bit only. It seems to me that they have falsley done this .. why are all of the much more expensive falvours available in 32 bit?



    LVL 74

    Accepted Solution

    You can buy SBS off te shelf and the installation is dailey straight forward it's completely wizard driven.

    Then once you have installed it you can run the wizards in the SBS Console to configure everything.  You don't need and are advised against getting unto the juts and crucks of Exchange or Windows.  It's designed for small businesses who don't have in house technical skills.

    I wasn't for a minute suggesting you used Windows 7 I was merely pointing out that becuase you has said you wanted simple XP functionality that this can be done with Win Vista/7

    Whilst SBS does prefer to be the DHCP server it by no means has to be.  But as with any Windows environment (be that SBS or any other version) it needs to have a Windows DNS service so that it can register it's SRV records (hopefully you have configured your router to issue your SBS server as the DNS server) otherwise Active Directory will not work and you will experience connectivity problems.

    You will find the DHCP service on SBS and indeed any Windows DHCP service is far more functional than the ones your router has and I would always advise against using the router for this purpose.  Most of the ones designed for small businesses have a hard enough job routing sometimes why would you want to add DHCP to them?

    Microsoft are turning x64 as are every other vendor because it allows for greater security along with many other benefits but one of the biggest ones is the ammount of physical memory supported.

    I would be very suprised if a purchase of Windows 2008 Web edition would do what you want (only MS can answer this for you) I would also be vary suprised if it was cheaper than SBS as the full CAL's can be quite pricey but SBS is heavily discounted.

    Author Comment

    Sorry for the slowness on this - I got sidetracked!

    You are right, but in the end I went with standard 2008 which is available in 32bit. I think it is better value beacuse its virtually the same price as sbs2008 its available in 32bit and you at least have an upgrade path so why limit yourself to sbs?

    Actually at the moment I am still trialling it so will see where it leads to.

    Thanks for your help.


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