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Here is the situation. Our company has just over 300 computers in 90 offices spread across 4 different states. The computers are old and runnings Windows XP. I am looking for a good cheap way to manage all of these systems for a central location. I need to set a security policy and make sure all the systems are healthy and have all their updates.

Any advice would be welcome. I'm not new to IT but I am new to IT management and this is the largest group of computers I have ever had to deal with.

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closed as off-topic by TheCleaner, Ward, mdpc, Tom O'Connor Aug 26 '13 at 23:47

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300 Windows PCs without a single server? How are the clients managed now? –  Nils Aug 4 '11 at 21:10
    
@Nils: They aren't. Each computer has a generic user that the employees log in with. We are a Jackson Hewitt franchise. The software has its own authentication that is seporate from the OS. –  Coyabbit Aug 4 '11 at 21:33
    
So I hope that non of these clients has a direct connect to the internet. BTW - you should not name your company. :-/ –  Nils Aug 5 '11 at 10:59
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2 Answers

How about using Active Directory?

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2  
and a WSUS server. –  cole Aug 4 '11 at 20:04
    
Its all too often we forget about what a windows network can do right out of the box. –  ErnieTheGeek Aug 4 '11 at 20:14
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WSUS server would be optional but preferred. Depending on how many users in each office it might just be easier to have them pull directly from MS. –  mrdenny Aug 4 '11 at 20:20
    
I have consider active directory but I have no experience in dealing with it. Would it require a static IP at our main office and a Registered Domain name? –  Coyabbit Aug 4 '11 at 20:55
    
That's would be the easiest way to set it up, then setup the remote offices to VPN into the home office. Active directory can be setup to use SMTP to send the replication changes around. It's a much more complex setup process, but it can be done. You could probably do the same VPN setup using dynamic IPs using a dynamic IP DNS company. –  mrdenny Aug 4 '11 at 22:39
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I have good experience with

Kaseya IT Center http://www.kaseya.com/itcenter.aspx

I recommend this, especially because you mention so many separate remote offices.

I don't mention more, because I don't want this to sound like an advertisement (I am not affiliated with this company anyway). Test it for yourself.

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For computers within a single company, what does that do that AD, WSUS, and other free and built-in tools don't? Honestly asking, not just challenging your claim. I'm not saying that Kaseya won't do it, just wondering if it's worth the money. The question does say "cheap" is a requirement. –  mfinni Aug 4 '11 at 20:36
    
In my experience AD, WSUS and other free built-in tools + managing VPN's and other aspects for this setup, like the work hours and initial deployment is not so cheap at all. :) However I would prefer it too. But when I take into account the comments of the original poster, then I would defenitely go for a simple solution. –  ICTdesk.net Aug 5 '11 at 3:53
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