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Hi everyone I am looking for the opinion of some experienced Sys Admins out there to know when it is appropriate to use an AD server. For example does 3 - 5 person small business merit the use of AD? If so what are the advantages (other then centralized password database)? If not how many users do merit it?


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up vote 4 down vote accepted

In my opinion, anything over 3 users merits it. SBS is a great starting point, and is designed for exactly the situation you are describing. It bundles all services, such as Sharepoint, Exchange and AD into one package.

Other things to consider are employee turnover and growth. Setting up a domain will significantly reduce your administrative overhead as things grow.

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If you aren't going to host your own email Windows Server Foundation might be a better fit. – Clint Feb 3 '11 at 17:59

It very much depends on the situation you're at. If all is required is an access to one/two shared folders and a printer, configuring AD might not be required. However, if there will be any future expansion of the company, such as additional users, services, e.t.c - managed environment should be considered. AD gives tremendous additional features and "nice" central tools. Such as, central user management, less security overhead over each and every workstation in the organization, policies, software deployments, central changes to workstations, applying security updates ... the list is practically endless. I would definitely recommend checking into the topic a bit further.

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When you have more than a couple of users who need to share files and you don't want to have those shared files stored on their local PC's. You also want to just back up the one server with all the data. And you don't want to have to go around each machine setting up users & passwords... or, make everything open and public so that all shares are guest with write access. i.e. you want centralized control and security too.

You might also have a printer attached to it and other services running on this box, more than just AD.

You get the picture. I think you can easily look at your situation and you'll know the answer.

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