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Please help a Server 2003 Novice!

By Starscream ·
Hi, I am currently an IT Technician at several primary schools in the UK and I hope to upgrade the networks from peer to peer networks with simple windows 98 servers to more modern and useful client/server networks with workstations running XP Pro and server platform Windows Server 2003 Standard. I am trying to accomlish this at the cheapest cost possible and will be setting up this vanilla solution myself. I plan to study for the MCSE qualification eventually but this would be a great start as I have low server knowledge as of present. I can successfully create a domain and have clients connecting to this domain using VMWARE as a safe test box. I know it takes a great deal of time and expertise to design and implement the policies, OUs, users, roaming profiles, home directories, folder redirection etc. So I was hoping for a helping hand in the form of free user management software so the tedious job of using active directory for user management. Free policy guides from start to finish to setup both staff and student OUs. And any other advice information from people who have set up similar systems in schools. As it is primary school security it not a massive issue, more registry protection from kids breaking machines is more useful than locking down machines using complicated security planninng. I am familiar with imaging software so its basically down to administration software to make life easier and policies.

If anyone has school experience deploying server 2003 with folder redirections etc and account groups for Staff, Students and technicians, I would love to hear from you. Also if there is any server 2003 irc rooms or server 2003 dedicated discussions around the net.

Schools tend to have a few hundred pupils and around 10-20 members of staff and I am the only technician. There is between 20 - 100 clients to be connected. I will also purchase a server (p4 perhaps to keep costs down) but I am just using VMware for now.

Any help would be fantastic.

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by BFilmFan In reply to Please help a Server 2003 ...

Your free user management software is already included with Windows 2003, in the Active Directory Users and Computers and the Group Policy Management MMC's.

And the reason it is so tedious to set up Active Directory correctly is so that people can earn a nice 6-figure income from being experts in it. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it and making minimum wage. As for AD security management software being cheap, I've installed it in Fortune 500 clients who easily laid out well in excess of 10 million dollars for a more "user friendly" management interface.

Start with this Windows 2003 Group Policy Management Reference:

This Seach Windows paper will also be of use to you:,28**42,sid1_gci966312,00.html

Best of luck and when you do become an expert and are asking 75-100,000 pounds sterling a year, think of your ol' Florida buddy in the colonies that pushed ya to help yourself.

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by Starscream In reply to

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by sgri In reply to Please help a Server 2003 ...

Are you going to be implementing an email server?
Maybe Exchange, or something else.
We have just implemented Small Business Server 2003 - that takes away the hassles of understanding OUs, folder redirection, etc. It combines Windows Server 2003, with AD, and Exchange. And its fairly easy to install.

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by Starscream In reply to

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by Garret` In reply to Please help a Server 2003 ...

Don't go with Small Business Server, you can only have 75 users. Go for Standard for sure, or Enterprise if you want to go all out and have all the schools networked together.

Get a couple of PC's, load server 2003 on one and win XP on the other(s). Test everything on this first to make sure you get it right on the real deal.

Make sure you get the install correct the first time round. Depending on your server(s) you'll need to look at DHCP and DNS as well as Domains, mail servers etc. This it pretty important to get right.

Once thats done the managing and maintaining comes next. Folder redirection for say, My Documents, is easy. You can find lots of how-to's on the web. Make sure the permissions are set so that the users can read/write to the folder. Just point it to the users 'Home folder'. You can set up Home folders in the Users and Groups MMC. Set the home folder to be a shared folder on the server eg H:\home\%username% (actually put the word 'username' here) You can then copy the template user and where %username% is the users name will appear and a folder is automatically created! too easy :) You then have a centralised location of everyones Documents so backup is a breeze. (that is a very brief explanation, once more do a goolge search and you'll get all the info you need.)

Look to Group Policies to set up your security and access. Make sure your OU's and groups are correct then test the policies on your test network to see what happens.

You could also look at getting a book on Server 2003. They have alot of details on all aspects of the OS. A suggestion would be Mastering Windows Server 2003 by Mark Minasi. It starts at the very begining of networking dealing with IP's Subnetting etc then moves to DNS, DHCP and WINS then managing and maintaining all of the above and ALOT more. Good Luck!

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by Starscream In reply to

Exactly what I needed to know! I have already bought the the Mark Minasi book Mastering Windows 2003. Massive, thick, hard back, impressive book! Think I will read it cover to cover, best way to understand it all i think. I actually have a test bed setup and have been messing around with it and taking some settings for a managed network and feel I am very competent at it now.

Big problem though, I checked with the Local Education Authority first before implementing this and they now strongly recommend against me doing it myself as I am planning on leaving this position as Technician in summer 2006 and basically they're asking who will administer the network when I go as the LEA doesn't have the resources to be adding and removing software, disaster recovery. I see what they mean by it as I would have everything figured out as for backups, images etc... But it wouldn't be easy for a technician taking over from me to jump in without any client server experience and to start administering the network. So I am trying to think of other ways to do this but I will post it as a different thread.

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by Starscream In reply to Please help a Server 2003 ...

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