I’m trying to help out someone who has windows server 2003 small business edition running a domain with 2 workstations. In my view a domain controller for 2 workstations is much more of a hassle than it’s worth so I’m going to change them to a workgroup. I’m going to leave the server running but only as a file server and a print server. My question is, is demoting the server, necessary, a good idea, dumb idea, or none of the above?
You cannot demote the SBS 2003 server, and have it still work as a standalone server. If you do the server will automatically shut down after 60 minutes.
The SBS 2003 server must be the root DC in the domain, and hold all the FSMO roles.
Once you have more than one user, AD makes things easier to manage.
See the KB article below, for details of what happens if you demote the SBS 2003 server.
Demoting the DC would then require that you manually keep accounts and passwords in sync on all three machines (or disable security all together by enabling guest or unauthenticated access). Personally, I would probably keep AD running since it is already setup and they are already relying on file and printer sharing.
There really should be no additional ongoing maintenance, and in fact, adding a new user or desktop is going to be easier with AD than without.