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How do you create a server environment?

Posted on 2010-11-10
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2012-05-10
I currently have a networked workgroup environment with numerous PC's mostly running Windows XP Professional, a couple Windows Vista and a couple Windows 7.  I also have 1 PC that's running Windows Server 2003 Standard Edtion, but I'd like not to use it if possible.  I also have a Buffalo Link Station Network Storage Device that I use for network shared files as well as some user's documents.

Currently I must configure every profile on every computer with internet explorer and other settings, preferences, passwords, documents, etc.  And if a user uses more then 1 computer, I have to set them both up identically or as close as I can.

I remember back in college we could log on to any computer and our desktop would look exactly the same as any other computer we would log on to.  I'd like to create the same kind of environment here.

I've read many articles on roaming user profiles and such, but nothing seems to help.  Can anyone provide me with DETAILED instructions on how to accomplish this task?
Question by:mshaffner
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Accepted Solution

wwakefield earned 1000 total points
ID: 34103590
-Have you considered:

-Loading Active Directory ont he server 2003 system
--Creating user accounts in Active Directory
-Joining each PC to the new Active Directory Domain
-Have users log in with the domain accounts

Assisted Solution

lleblanc65 earned 1000 total points
ID: 34103606
What you are looking for is Roaming Profiles and a Domain environment. This can be accomplished by having users log into the server environment. I am not sure why you do not want to use the 2003 Server, but if you make that a Domain Controller and add the user logins to the server, then you can create roaming profiles so regardless of where users log in they are retrieving the profile on the server and not locally and getting the settings you provide. Please see the attached article on how to do this in detial.

Expert Comment

ID: 34103617
---Add Remove Roles
---Custom Option and Select Active Directory
---Follow the prompts and when the DNS section comes up, choose "Configure Options Later"

What do you have for DNS?  
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Expert Comment

ID: 34104036
The easiest way to do this is to create an AD account and set users profiles on the server you do not want to use; however, you can also configure each PC with the user name profile on their, but what ever changes 1 PC does it will not reflect the other; the work around is to have each PC profiles sync up with each other after hours.

Using XCOPY:

The Windows command line utility XCOPY has options that can be used to copy only files that are newer than those already in the destination folder. You can create a batch file to simplify this procedure.

Using Notepad, create a file containing the following two lines:
XCOPY "%1" "%2" /D /I %3
XCOPY "%2" "%1" /D /I %3
and save it in your Windows folder as SYNC.CMD. (This is for Windows 2000 or XP. If you are using Windows 95, 98 or Me, replace XCOPY with XCOPY32 and save the file as SYNC.BAT.)

To use the batch file, open a command prompt and type SYNC followed by the paths of the two folders you want to synchronize, each in quotes. If you want to synchronize subfolders as well, add /S to the command line before pressing Enter. For example, suppose your project is kept in a folder called "My Project" on both your local PC and one with a network name of "DELL". To synchronize this folder, including any subfolders, type the command:

SYNC "C:\My Project" "\\DELL\My Project" /S
We recommend that you test this on something unimportant before trying it on valuable work files. Note that the two-line batch file has no "idiot-proofing", so it will happily try to synchronize entire hard disks if you tell it to! This method works, but it gets tiresome having to type in the paths of the two folders.


Use Windows Briefcase:
Most versions of Windows have a little-known tool called Briefcase that is intended to facilitate transferring files between work and home. One of the reasons it's little known is that it is not really a lot of use. It can't be used to synchronize files or folders across a network, but you can use it to create copies of files that can be transferred to another computer across a network, and then used to update the originals when they are transferred back. You can also create a Briefcase on a floppy disk or Flash drive, and then transfer it manually between computers.

To use the Briefcase:

Right-click on the desktop (or in any folder on any removable drive that you want to use to carry the briefcase) and select New, Briefcase. You can rename the new briefcase if you wish.
Transfer copies of the files you want to work on to the briefcase using drag and drop.
Transfer the briefcase to the other computer, by drag and drop across a network or by physically moving it on a floppy disk or Flash drive.
On the other computer, edit the files.
Transfer the briefcase back to the original computer.
Right-click the briefcase and select Update all. This will synchronize the briefcase files with the originals.

Author Comment

ID: 34104497
I am attempting to configure the server as a domain controller as suggested by lleblanc65.  But I do not know what to put in for the DNS.  The workgroup we use is WILLISAUTOGROUP and I wanted to maintain that as the domain; but I get a warning that states:

The name WILLISAUTOGROUP includes only one label.  Most names include more than one label separated by dots.  Example:  You should avoid using a single-label DNS name as an Active Directory domain name, since it requires additional configuration.

What does that mean exactly?

Expert Comment

ID: 34104571
This means if you wanted to publish this name and use an internet reigstar such as GoDaddy you would not be able to. If you are only using this for internal use (which I believe you are) then this will be fine - or you can simply make it WILLISAUTOGROUP.COM and that will solve your problem. When you join the domain with the other pcs you will only need the single label as the ".com" is assumed in windows.  

Author Comment

ID: 34104585
Thanks for the info!  I'll give it a whirl and let you know when I run into another question!  :-)

Author Comment

ID: 34105129
Now I'm getting the following message:

DNS Registration Diagnostics - Verify DNS support, or install DNS on this computer.
Diagnostic Failed
The registration diagnostic has been run 3 times.
Warning:  Domain Controller functions like joining a domain, logging onto a domain, and Active Directory replication will not be available until the DNS infrastructure for Active Directory is correctly configured.
The wizard encountered an error while trying to determine if the DNS server with which this domain controller will register supports dynamic updates.
For more information, including steps to correct this problem, see Help.
The primary DNS server tested was: (
The zone was: com
The test for dynamic DNS update support returned:
"DNS Sever failure."
(error code 0x0000232A RCODE_SERVER_FAILURE)
Options are:
1. I have corrected the problem. Perform the DNS diagnostic again.
2. Install and configure the DNS server on this computer, and set this computer to use this DNS server as its preferred DNS server.
3. I will correct the problem later by configuring DNS manually. (Advanced)

Any thoughts?

Expert Comment

ID: 34105187
Where is your DNS?  


Server automatically picks up the DNS and handles it..

Are you still staticed on DNS or is your Server DNS set to

Expert Comment

ID: 34105202
run DCPROMO to remove active directory then run it again to add it
DCPROMO will offer to configure DNS for you, say yes and go to lunch
Once you finish lunch the DCPROMO should be done and ready for rebooting, then you'll have a working set of zone files. I've seen an Active Directory zone file, you'll never get it right making it by hand.

Author Comment

ID: 34105221
Are you referring to DNS in TCP/IP Configuration?
If so, those servers are set to:
as specified by our ISP

Expert Comment

ID: 34105415
Reccomend you remove the static DNS settings and use DHCP for DNS.

Then take the advice above and remove AD and Reinstall using the custom configuration selection choosing AD from the list.   When the part about DNS comes up, use the "Confirgure these options later...." .   After the reboot the server should automatically handle the DNS.   All the WS on your domain should automatically point to the server for DNS also.

Note you can also Remove AD and DNS using the same server configuration manager.

Expert Comment

ID: 34105439
What is your path to the internet?

ISP --- WALL JACK --- DSL MODEM --- SWITCH (Or Firewall then switch) --- SERVER

Do you issue DHCP to your workstations?  If not, once you sort this out, you can add DHCP as a server role and it will issue it for you.  Note if you do this, make sure you diable DHCP on switches or anything else.   Then you WS will auto point to the server for DNS.

Author Comment

ID: 34122973
Ok... so I think I've got Active Directory installed and operational and I've created one user and one shared folder for the roaming user profile.

Now I need to know how to copy the existing user profile (from the local Windows XP machine) to the roaming profile shared folder.  And then to set the Windows XP machine to access that roaming profile upon logon.


Author Comment

ID: 34139891

I now have successfully copied and created a roaming profile.

However, there is a problem.

Everything copied to the server and copies from the server to the local machine each time the user logs on!  I've read some articles on how to handle large user profiles.  One provides instructions on how to "re-direct" user folders in Group Policy Editor.  I've followed those instructions precisely, however it does not seem to be working.  Everything (Desktop, App Data, etc.) is still being copied from the server to the local machine.

How do I make it so the local machine will simply access the files on the server rather then copying them on logon?

Expert Comment

ID: 34140020
No experience with roaming profiles.

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