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A customer has just purchased two new computers which I need to manage and support. Ideally this would be done with a server using domains and group policys to manage everything, but this is obviously overkill for just two computers and they are on a very limited budget.

I need to set up around 25 user accounts now, and upto 50 in the future. Each account needs Skype installed and its credentials set up. Each user also needs their Documents folder mapped to their own folder on a network hard drive, so they can log onto either computer and access their files.

After the initial setup, they need to be kept up to date and routienly scanned for visues etc.

Obviously doing this manually will take forever, so I'm curious if there is a better way of managing this.

The computers are both running Windows 7 Home Premium.

Thanks in advance.

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migrated from Jan 26 '11 at 15:40

This question came from our site for computer enthusiasts and power users.

Wow. Just wow. I'd walk away from this obvious fly-by-night telemarketing operation if I were you. – gravyface Jan 26 '11 at 16:30
@gravyface Perhaps I should better explain what I'm doing. I'm 16 and set up recently a small business fixing computers in my local area. Basically my Nan lives in a type of care home and the house manager decided to get some computers for the residents to use. I was reccomended by my Nan as someone who could set them up and provice maintanence nad support for them. So they get it cheaper than going to a large company, and I get experience and something to put on a CV. – Connor W Jan 26 '11 at 20:29

This might be of some help:

Windows Intune

Intune allows you to manage PCs remotely via a web interface. It's in beta, but allows you to manage up to 25 PCs for free during Beta. When it's released to the world, it'll only cost $11 USD a month, so it's pretty cheap :)

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Doesn't do software deployment, you'll need something else for that. Also worth noting that it needs a none home version of windows to run. It is included in the subscription but i wonder what happens if you decide against it 6 months down the line. Do you then need to re-install the PC's because your win 7 enterprise licence has expired? – Michael Henry Jan 26 '11 at 16:34
You can RDP into the machines via Intune, and it appears as though you could push MSIs. As to the other problem you described, I'm a little confused... – CamronBute Jan 26 '11 at 20:11
Looks interesting, shame they are not accepting any more beta participants. Any ideas when it will be released? – Connor W Jan 26 '11 at 20:34
Not a clue. Saw it at TechDays, and it caught my eye, but I know nothing more than that. They have a pricing scheme, so I'm assuming it's soon... – CamronBute Jan 26 '11 at 21:49
According to their documentation, it needs a pro version of windows, not the Windows 7 Home premium the question asker has mentioned. So he'll need to upgrade to Pro, but as this is an ongoing subscription i just mentioned it was unclear what would happen if and when they leave the intune service. – Michael Henry Jan 27 '11 at 13:34

After reading your comments re: care home/residents:

I support a couple of group homes with multi-user workstations for the clients and I can tell you setting up different logins for everyone (especially those with possible cognitive and/or other disabilities) is a waste of time.

Setup a generic user with no password, give it restricted permissions, setup OpenDNS's free content filtering (you'll save yourself some virus/liability grief that way), install FireFox with No Script, and good anti-virus and be done with it.

Will this machine get infected? Probably, at some point, so be prepared to make a monthly/quarterly visit and charge accordingly for your time to do some maintenance.

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It's not for virus protection that I'm using seperate accounts. Residents will be making documents and saving photos to the computer, so they all need their own personal accounts. I could create seperate folders for each user, but I will then have the issue of residents going in and looking at/modifying/deleting other residents files. I plan to check for viruses and do updates all remotely on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, so that is no trouble. – Connor W Jan 27 '11 at 11:05
Have them buy 16 GB USB thumbdrives if they want to keep their documents separate. – gravyface Jan 27 '11 at 22:56

You could try Logmein. Logmein lets you remote control through a web interface. it's been around since 2003. you can start with a free account. regarding the limit, i have look through forums some say they can run a decent amount of pc for free. by decent i mean 25+ .

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I fail to see how Log Me In will do anything useful in this situation... – nhinkle Jan 24 '11 at 23:20
i was providing an alternative to Windows intune – ncoder83 Jan 25 '11 at 15:16
Thanks for that. I use TeamViewer at the moment for remote desktop type stuff, which I guess is like Log Me In. It's completely free and fully featured for non-commercial stuff. I was hoping for something where I could actually manage the computers to save time though, as opposed to just remotely accessing them. – Connor W Jan 26 '11 at 20:37

If I understand correctly the requirements fit perfectly w/ a domain: network storage, centralized mgmt & security, user profile backup. We will install a domain for 2 PC's rather than a NAS w/out any mgmt so I don't think it's overkill at all. It can be cost effective in the long run also vs all of the workarounds that will be needed for backup & monitoring.

The challenge is the 25-50 accounts. MS Foundation server doesn't require any CAL's but is limited to 15 users, SBS is limited to 75 users and has less expensive CAL's. If the accounts could be roles instead of individual users, or deleted based on date last used, that might help reduce the count.

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You can't add windows 7 home machines to a domain. – Michael Henry Jan 26 '11 at 16:30
Also, even SBS is too expensive. By limited budget, I meant a few grand. And that had to buy the computers and desks and chairs etc. as well. A server would be ideal, but even the cheapest would be around a grand at the least. Sadly it's not an option. – Connor W Jan 26 '11 at 20:41
@Michael, I agree, but the upgrade from Win7 Home to Pro/Ultimate is very feasible (except it seems budget wise), since, IMO, the client bought the wrong machines. – Ed Fries Jan 26 '11 at 20:54
yes it does seem to be a solution on a shoestring. I would say he's going to end up with a script to generate the user accounts and a local gpo to lock the machines down. Coupled with a cheap NAS + redundant drives to store the users file. – Michael Henry Jan 27 '11 at 13:39

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