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Home networking server solution. Log in on any computer, get the same thing

Last response: in Networking
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March 25, 2013 5:22:46 PM

Not really sure exactly where to begin. I've looked all over the internet but I can't really find exactly what I'm looking for. Any answers or any links to an existing thread are appreciated.

I'm a bit of a computer geek. I have quite a few computers as does my family. What I wanted to do was create some sort of network. When I was in highschool we had a computer system where you can log into any computer in the school, and you'll have your files and the programs are uniform throughout. I'd like to do something like that in my home for my family.

I really have no clue how to do this but I know I have the capabilities to do such a thing. I have a 8gb server, and we have a 100mb connection to the house. It would be amazing to be able to go to any computer and access the same thing. I've used homegroups and such to do this but you still don't get quite the same capability. If anyone has any ideas that would be amazing. Throughout the house we have 8 computers and I'd love to be able to connect them as workstations to a central server but I really have no idea how to do this. The only thing I've been able to find out is that windows server might be an option, or something like that. All the computers are running windows 7 and mine is running windows 8.

ANYTHING IS APPRECIATED,
Matt
March 25, 2013 5:27:44 PM

You're talking about roaming profiles. You'd need a domain and a domain controller (running a server OS).
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March 25, 2013 5:38:20 PM

ss202sl said:
You're talking about roaming profiles. You'd need a domain and a domain controller (running a server OS).


Would windows server 2012 be a good choice for that?

What would I have to do to each of the client pc's to get them connected properly?
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March 25, 2013 5:42:38 PM

At the very least you're looking at a Windows Server running as a domain controller, with roaming profiles enabled. For a home setting you're probably looking at Small Business Server Essentials as a minimum, I don't know if Windows Home Server supports domaining or not.

For your desktops you're looking at Windows business/professional or better, Home premium/Starter cannot login to domains. You say you have a number of computers, you'll probably need additional client licences as well.
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March 25, 2013 5:49:27 PM

Setting up a network like this is something that isn't too easy your first time around, and it also isn't cheap. You will need to set up Windows Server on your designated server computer, which comes in several different tiers depending upon what all you intend to use your server for. Also, you have to be careful as the computer you have designated for your server will also need to have driver support for Windows Server, which many desktop systems do not. Some things might work with standard Windows drivers (depending upon which OS version you use) but often there will be some components that don't work such as onboard NIC, graphics, or storage controllers.

Roaming profiles means that files and settings are hosted by the server to any computer joined to the domain. You have to be careful about this, though, for example if someone has a whole bunch of music files or photos in their My Documents or My Pictures, this can take a very long time for your computer to load up from login as all that information has to come from the server. It might be better to just set up shared folders on the server, accessible from any computer in your network, and allow people to move and save data to the shared folders instead. They should still be able to log in using the same username and password from any computer, but the programs and settings for that user are still dependent upon the local computer even though they have access to shared resources like networked folders from any of those computers.
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March 25, 2013 6:01:37 PM

Don't forget, for the likes of the "My Documents", "My Pictures" and other folders Folder Redirection can be setup so that it redirects/links those folders to folders on the server instead of having to sync the folders during logon and logoff. The downside is that if you take the computer outside of your network then you don't have access to those files and folders.
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March 25, 2013 6:36:35 PM

Thanks for all the help guys. I have a server I think can handle it and I'll get all the software and everything and try to see if I can't get this to work. I'll post some updates on here along the way if anyone is interested. I think it will be a unique setup for our home network and could be very useful. If it doesn't work out then I can just restore everything to the way it is.
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