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Alright. I was asked to set up a new server for a company. They have 6 computers and 6 printers. Could you please advise what server will be the best.

We are just looking to share files and printers..

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Last Post by JorgeM
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  • Are the printers wifi ready? Or are they connected directly to computers? What operating systems are running on the 6 computers? With MS-Windows 7/8 you don't really need a computer to act as a server, just set up a home network and all the computers on the network are considered … Read More

  • For centralized management, use a Windows 2008/2012 Server and create a domain. The client computers must be runnning Windows Vista/7 Professional. Home Premium and lower editions can't connect to domains. Read More

  • > "Home Premium and lower editions can't connect to domains." Ok, I was thinking of Windows 7 Pro. Sorry for misleading you. You will need to upgrade the computers from Home edition to Pro. And if you are going to do that you might as well upgrade them to Windows … Read More

  • The Home Premium editions do not have the features to interact with domain controllers. There's no other way other than an OS upgrade. (Windows Anytime) or purchase Windows 8.1 Pro like Ancient said. Read More

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    For 6 computers, its not worth the cost of upgrading everything and buying the appropriate licenses to run a domain. You can setup one of the existing workstaions on the network and setup a simple workgroup network. Create the 6 users on each of the workstations with the same user … Read More

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Are the printers wifi ready? Or are they connected directly to computers? What operating systems are running on the 6 computers?

With MS-Windows 7/8 you don't really need a computer to act as a server, just set up a home network and all the computers on the network are considered servers which can share files and printers with each other.

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No some of them are not Wi-Fi ready. Operating system varies from vista to windows 8.

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I would also like a server to manage the users on the computers(i.e change password in case someone forgets.....)

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For centralized management, use a Windows 2008/2012 Server and create a domain. The client computers must be runnning Windows Vista/7 Professional. Home Premium and lower editions can't connect to domains.

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Thank you for the reply. The problem is some of them are home premium. Is there another solution?

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home Premium should not be a problem. Only one computer needs to run the Server software -- I don't know whether it can manage passwords without human intervention or not in case someone forgets his/her password.

Edited by Ancient Dragon

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ok, i am confused "Home Premium and lower editions can't connect to domains."

So, all editions will work fine?

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"Home Premium and lower editions can't connect to domains."

Ok, I was thinking of Windows 7 Pro. Sorry for misleading you. You will need to upgrade the computers from Home edition to Pro. And if you are going to do that you might as well upgrade them to Windows 8.1 Pro. There's a big of retraining needed but the learning curve isn't all that great.

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Thank you Ancient Dragon for clarifying. Is there a possibility to set up a server with windows vista home premium computers?

I am relatively new in that so what you would consider the easiest option?

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The Home Premium editions do not have the features to interact with domain controllers. There's no other way other than an OS upgrade. (Windows Anytime) or purchase Windows 8.1 Pro like Ancient said.

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For 6 computers, its not worth the cost of upgrading everything and buying the appropriate licenses to run a domain. You can setup one of the existing workstaions on the network and setup a simple workgroup network. Create the 6 users on each of the workstations with the same user names and passwords.

If you have more than 6 users sharing 6 machines, then the next thing I'd suggest is looking at Windows Server Essentials 2012 and upgrading those home editions on your network.

otherwise, for simple file sharing, it would be cost effective to purchase a NAS device (great option/low cost), or setup a server running Linux so you can avoid the costs related to Windows licensing.

Edited by JorgeM

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JorgeM, can I set up the workgroup network on any computers?
I think I will follow your advice.

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A windows computer can either be a member of a domain, or workgroup. The workgroup model for networking is prior to the newer concept of "homegroup" found in Win 7. If you have a mix of workstations, they can all be a part of the same workgroup. You can then use Network Neighborhood (or equivalent in the OS you are on) to find resources on the local network. If you have the same usernames and passwords on each of the systems, you should be able to easily share resources on your network. it may take some work on your part and tweaking at first if you arent familiar, but once it is in place, it works as expected.

Changing a password would require you to do so on all systems to ensure that access is not interrupted for the users.

It it easier to manage this in a domain model, but as mentioned before, there are additional costs and maintenance once you go to a domain model. Its worth it after about 10 computers on the network. Alternatively, Small Business Edition (SBS), now called Essentials is the alternative where the cost is lower and the system includes Active Directory, Exchange, SQL, IIS, File and Print, etc.. all in one box. I typically am not a fan of this system, but its cost effective, especially for small businesses.

My general rule of thumb is keep it as simple as possible.

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Thank you for the recommendations. How hard is it to set up a server with SBS?
I have never set up one before and only know the basics of the AD, Exchange, SQL)

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How hard is it to set up a server with SBS

Hard to say, depends on your overall knowledge/experience. For me, SBS is not my first choice. My experience has been (based on the work that I do), a system with multiple services running that are generally considered incompatible (for example Exchange and SQL on the same box), is more of a pain to manage, especially when you run into problems. I prefer the simplicity of managing a server with only the required services running... for me, less is more. What makes SBS attractive to most, especially small businesses, is the cost.

Back to your first comment... "We are just looking to share files and printers..". Since this is all that they need, I'd stay away from having to manage Exchange, SQL, etc.. since these services are not required for the work taht was requested.

My general rule of thumb is keep it as simple as possible.

That is a very smart choice. I agree.

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