School Server Setup

My Boss just opened a small school. He know that i am good at IT. But not servers so i need your help.

And we can't afford a IT Pro. beacause we spent so much money on the new technology.

Now, here is the school setup:

My Boss purchased 80 new bare computers for the Students and Teachers. Now I've already installed Windows XP Pro on all of the computers I left 3 of these computers to be blank (no OS) at the moment for your instructions.

Here is the breakdown:
My focus should be on
- File Sharing
- Networking
- Internet Sharing
- Group Policy (for student PCs)
- Restrictions
- Active Directory
- Security
- Domain/Client setup
- other things that I should know
- What accessories to buy
- Mail Server
- Applications - Like Microsoft Office

I have some knowledge in Windows XP, however, not windows servers. All client computers will be XP Pro Build 2600 (Sp3).

Anyway, where should I start?

Any Network Admins here that can give me some inputs about this?

The simplest or easiest way would be the best.

Thank You!

Also, Please email-me if you have any guides on setting all of this up. Please email me it in a pdf form. You can also email me if you would like to help me set it up. My email adress is

PS- sorry for the bad english.
8 answers Last reply
More about school server setup
  1. First of all, if you're only going to be running Windows XP, be prepared for a lot of issues. Yes, XP is still quite popular with a lot of business out there, but it is an old OS that has lost support and most all manufacturers are moving away from it or have done so years ago.

    This means lack of driver support in some cases, lack of software support, and most of all a much greater vulnerability to viruses and malicious attacks. My recommendation would be plan for an upgrade to Windows 7 as soon as possible.

    You are going to need a server system to manage your school network and perform several duties. If you are only going to use a single server and have it run multiple virtual machines to do what you need, you're probably looking at needing something pretty expensive. I'd recommend looking at getting at least two physical servers and configuring them as failover clustering if possible. In the even that one physical server goes down, the second server automatically takes over the roles and there is little to no down time. Otherwise, if your server goes down, everything goes down. That's not the greatest position to be in with this big of a network!

    Categorize your computers as much as you can for ease of management. In other words, don't just split them into "staff" computers and "student" computers, but segment if you have computers for teachers, computers for administrators, computers for labs, computers for class rooms, etc. You can then customize your software roll out and access permission and restriction rules more fine tuned. For instance, on lab computers and student computers you may want to use a program like Deep Freeze or SmartShield to lock the system into a non-persistent environment. This means any changes made to the computer are lost once it reboots so it always goes back to how it was before.

    What size of campus do you have for this school? This will play a role in what kind of networking you will need to accommodate and the hardware you will need for it. You are going to need some high-capacity gigabit switches for running all of your devices. Ideally, you would get switches capable of 10G uplinks to connect all traffic back go your backbone where your server and core internet connection will be. You will also need to figure out what you want to provide for wireless connection. It can get pretty expensive to set up a full wireless access point configuration throughout a full campus and make sure you aren't having any kind of dead spots or signal conflicts!

    You are also going to have to look into additional networking hardware such as routers and firewalls. It might be best to find an all-in-one solution like a CISCO ASA or a Sonicwall NSA series firewall which can also do gateway anti-virus protection and content filtering.

    What are the types of computers that you are starting with, you said that you already have 80 computers purchased and configured, correct?
  2. Hi :)

    Sorry but this wont work for you...

    For an 80 plus network you NEED A PRO...

    You dont have the knowledge to do this, which a network engineer would...

    You boss is going to HAVE TO find the money to pay a Pro (and it wont be cheap)

    You cannot spend half your life typing for help here...

    Knowing about XP is NOT enough, its not even 1% of what you should know...

    Sorry to be brutal about this, but better you know now...

    All the best Brett :)
  3. Thank You For Replying, choucove

    I was wondering if you can email me and help me set it up step by step.

  4. smayernik said:
    Thank You For Replying, choucove

    I was wondering if you can email me and help me set it up step by step.


    Hi :)

    You are kidding right ?

    That would be an email the length of War and Peace :)

    All the best Brett :)
  5. Hire me.

    Not to sound brutal but Brett928S2 is spot on. As well as choucove.

    Listen to this: Windows XP will no longer be supported in the next year and half or so. (Until April 2014 I believe) It is a crucial investment to goto Windows 7 Professional.

    I support several small business with about 20 machines each (NOT 80). It can (will) very easily happen that if one machine goes down and takes up %100 of your attention, that another machine will go down simultaneously and you need to be quick to respond and resolve the issue without wiping the machine. Windows XP has been the cause of so many helpdesk tickets which, after long discussions the companies have upgraded to Windows 7.

    The expensive upgrade was easily justified by looking at the support cost for the past years supporting XP compatibility with new programs, constant crashes causing data loss, network and resource sharing, wireless, and everything in between.

    Windows 7 handles BSODs much much better and will future proof the software you will support. Not to mention that systems will run smoother on Windows 7.

    Regardless if you have Windows 7 there will be troubleshooting involved applying group policy, security policies, resource and printer sharing. I say again Windows XP can be a nightmare trying to connect everything.

    Additionally with 80 machines you will have hardware issue along the way no matter what. You must be able to tell those apart quickly instead of drilling away at a potential software issue, conflicting AV software, firewall issues, etc..

    One last thought about being good at IT but not with servers. Servers is where IT resides. The 80 machines are just for end-users. The servers is what makes the magic happen in IT. Active Directory is an amazing beast but requires deep in-depth knowledge. It is a trivial task to setup a simple AD Domain with clients but there is much more involved. You have network infrastructure tied into it. DNS, DHCP, Application distributions. Depending on your infrastructure and your computing power this can vary greatly.

    80 Machines is going to require some networking power as well. Are you going to be able to supply the amount of data throughput when ~80 students are downloading from the server/internet/YouTubing or looking up malicious sites?

    Supporting 80 students for a school that likely many parents are paying money for will be damning if you can't maintain the quality of access to servers and the internet during crucial test times or everyday learning.

    My recommendation: Get certified or find someone with experience.
  6. Brett928S2 said:
    Hi :)

    You are kidding right ?

    That would be an email the length of War and Peace :)

    All the best Brett :)


    My boss (Senior System Administrator) has at least 3 or 4 piles of books 7 feet tall detailing all the server/router/security configurations with some programming books in between...

    You will be doing system administration and I would recommend to learn some scripting as well...

    I hope you like to read :wahoo:
  7. As the others have stated here, yes, this is something that absolutely will require the attention of a professional. I know that the local school district in my rural town (elementary, middle, and high school totals less than 1,000 students) has a staff of two people and they are backed up for months sometimes trying to keep up with the needs of just the normal administration. That doesn't count the time involved with actually setting up and testing a whole new system.

    You will have to find a professional who knows how to do all of this already. It will take you a few years of learning, training, and practice before attempting this kind of network setup solo, especially if you do not really have any experience with server environments or networking. Heck, I own a computer business, and have been doing servers and networks for small business for about four years now on my own, and worked at a major university doing computer systems administration support and networking... and even I don't think I'd have a simple time ahead of trying to set up what you are talking about.

    The last thing I might mention is do not underestimate the amount of time you are going to need just to get this all set up properly. It's not a matter of a month and you're up and going. If you're looking at the time necessary to research hardware vendors and partner programs for educational discounts; researching compatibility and testing configurations on computers and servers with AD policies; configuring printer sharing and user account information and wireless access at your campus... Well, plan on at least one school semester or half a year of work before you're network is going to be up and ready for students and staff to begin using reliably without running into a possible time crunch nightmare.
  8. smayernik said:
    Thank You For Replying, choucove

    I was wondering if you can email me and help me set it up step by step.


    This is the funniest thing I've read for a long time.
Ask a new question

Read More

Management Computers Servers Business Computing