Part 1: What is a Windows Domain?
Differences between Workgroup & Domain Environments
In this guide I will be demonstrating how to setup, manage and maintain a Microsoft Windows Server based Domain, step by step. This guide will also make use of the following:
- IP Addressing
- Active Directory
- Group Policy
- Folder & Network Drive sharing
Many of you are probably familiar with the feature known as Workgroups in Windows and have possibly used it at some point too. A Workgroup is basically just a grouping of Windows based PC’s that are part of the same local network, each of these PC’s can be accessed through the network and both files and folders can be shared on each too. The Workgroup can also be given a name of choice to distinguish itself from others. Pretty straight forward wouldn’t you agree? But, are Workgroups ideal in larger environments such as corporate organisations or enterprises with hundreds to thousands of PC’s? No, they certainly are not and for many valid reasons such as:
- User & Computer Management
- Computer & Network Monitoring
- Data Access and rights
and so on…
So what is a Windows Domain and how does it differ from a standard Workgroup? A Windows Domain is a logical grouping of both users and computers, and also includes servers and sites. Unlike a Workgroup users and computers are controlled by servers, these are typically known as Domain Controllers and are at the heart of all user and computer based management. This is known as a Client Server Network.
While a Workgroup has a recommended limit to about around 15 PC’s, a Domain is ever expanding, ultimately allowing for an unlimited number of PC’s or “Clients” as they are often referred to as. A Windows Domain can also be expanded even further to include multiple Domains by adding additional Domain Controllers. Since everything can be manually and automatically managed via the Domain Controller this saves a large amount of time because the need to go around each PC and configure various things is done away with.
As you can already see, the advantages over a Windows Domain rather than a Workgroup are already becoming clear. Here are a few others including some which I have already mentioned briefly.
- File & Resource Sharing
- Centralised Management
- Minimal Effort
- Time Saving
- Cost Effective
That’s it for part 1, in part 2 I will showing you how to configure the server and setup Active Directory based services.
You can also find links to the various parts of this guide over at the Tips & Guides page