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Can Windows 7/8 shares be permission based to use as a file server?

I'm looking to implement a file server, I think that a full blown SBS or Windows Server O/S will be overkill for what we need.

In theory, I think it's possible to create all users who need access to the shares and have them access the files and folders over the workgroup network using password protection, I get that bit and know how to setup users, share folders and add permissions.

I'm wondering if there is any kind of restriction stopping me from doing this, as it seems that it's a bit to easy to bypass the need for a 'real' server, I fell sure that Microsoft wouldn't allow this or perhaps push restrictions to files e.g. one user at a time?

We have 15 users and ideally I would just like to put a hi-spec PC in and share folders to those who are granted permission, can anyone foresee any other problems?
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MadPC
Asked:
MadPC
3 Solutions
 
Raj-GTSystems EngineerCommented:
All Microsoft client OS have a maximum client limit, so the 'server' in this case will not allow 15 simultaneous connections. Perhaps using a simple NAS device which supports SMB would be a better solutions. I have used Synology Diskstation in the past which will do what you want without breaking the bank (around £150).
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MadPCAuthor Commented:
Thanks Raj-GT

I have looked at a NAS device previously but wasn't sure if there would be potential speed issues with these? The main reason why we want to use a Windows box rather than a NAS is to allow for software enabled cloud backups, this won't be possible on a NAS.

Also, I've just 'tested' my Win7 Pro PC and setup a dummy (standard) user and share with access for that user, the shared folder appears on the network but when logging on as this account I get a 'network error, windows cannot access etc' - Any reason what could cause this? Does the suer have to be an administrator account?

I notice your comment regarding 15 simultaneous connections but my share options seem to have the ability to add 20 which would be enough?
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E-Z-DCommented:
I agree with Raj-GT, 15 users is over the limit, NAS is the way to go. My qnap supports cloud backup by the way. :)

the problem with that dummy setup could be that the sharing settings and network workgroup settings are not yet made. post your settings if you will.
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MadPCAuthor Commented:
The sharing problem is a little weird.

I can login to the share from another workgroup PC as the user but then the connection fails, this is only when trying to access folders shared by the administrator but if I create a share within the user account there is no problem connecting to the share, so it doesn't seem to be a firewall issue.

Network settings:
Network Discovery (turned on)
File and Printer Sharing (turned on, access to user shares working, access to admin shares not connecting)
Public Folder Sharing (turned on and can access via user login)
File sharing connections (enabled for 40- or 56-bit encryption)
Password protected sharing (turned on)

Anything else needed? By the way, whats a qnap? :)
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McKnifeCommented:
-a qnap is a nas brand-

Hi.
Win7 and 8 allow 20 simultaneous connections while older client OS' (when used as a server) allowed only 10. But: your 15 users might very well exceed 20 connections... it's hard to find out how many connections the opening of a file/folder produces, try for yourself and watch ->compmgmt.msc ->System tools - shared folders - sessions at the same time.

This is an artificial limit imposed by microsoft.
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MadPCAuthor Commented:
update,

the diagnose error says:

"shared folder is available but the user account you are logged on with was denied access"

I've double checked and the user we are logging on with is definitely in the advanced permissions with full control?
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Raj-GTSystems EngineerCommented:
You have to give the user NTFS permissions using the security tab as well for it to work.
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Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
Windows Server 2012 Essentials is your best option.  It's the least expensive server software available for 15 users.  It also does things that your workstation CANNOT do and it's cost is only a little more than a Windows client OS (~$450).

Things it can do that you would VERY LIKELY find useful:
1. Remote Web Access - provides an interface that allows your users to connect to the server and their office workstation from home.
2. Workstation backup - it can backup ALL your workstations (Running Windows 7 or 8 - MAYBE Vista, NOT XP).
3. It can provide Volume Shadow Copy for a FORM of backup of your files that backs them up every few hours and makes recovery easy.
4. It provides a domain with CENTRALIZED management and even more important, CENTRALIZED user accounts.  Create one user ONCE and the password for that user.  That user can now sign on from ANY computer in the domain without you doing the added work of creating the account on ALL systems.  (A workgroup, to access a share requires the user account to match and the passwords to match - and YOU (or the users) have to keep them in sync - this gets messy and complicated really fast in a 15 user environment.
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MadPCAuthor Commented:
Thanks for the help guys, we are probably going to upgrade to Windows Server essentials in the near future but another issue we have to address before doing this is that some of the client OS's are using not only WinXP, but WinXP 'home' edition, why I don't know but we need to solve this before considering a domain environment.

@Raj-GT - That worked perfectly thanks! It will serve for now as a workaround until the budget is available to solve the above issue.
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