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Several years ago I installed a Windows 2008 server and 8 PCs in a workgroup. Since then the client PCs have all been upgraded to Windows 7 Pro and the network has grown from the original 8 PCs to 23 and five network printers - all still configured as a workgroup.

The server has one common "file share" that about half of the users access occasionally. The printers are accessed directly - no "printer shares" are used. 95% of the time users access applications hosted in "the cloud".

After adding three more PCs a month ago there were several times in the last month when about half of the PCs lost their connections to the internet. After a while things were fine for over a week.

I'm wondering if there is a chance this problem is related to the size of the Workgroup and if there would be benefits in installing a Domain Controller.

I looked all over and couldn't find any answer to this question anywhere in documentation or definitively in discussion groups! I've had people tell me this was definitely a sign I needed Active Directory.

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    The PCs losing connection to the internet points to a networking solution issue, not a workgroup issue, unless maybe you're using ICS on a computer in the workgroup as a router/firewall? There is no practical limit on how many computers can be in a workgroup, and needing a domain is based on whether or not the features offered by a domain are useful to you. – austinian Jul 20 '15 at 17:01
  • Thanks austinian - I looked all over and couldn't find any answer to this question anywhere in documentation or definitively in discussion groups. – Fred Nelson Jul 20 '15 at 17:23
  • My apologies to whomever felt the need to vote negatively on my question! – Fred Nelson Jul 20 '15 at 17:23
  • I've had people tell me this was definitely a sign I needed Active Directory so I decided to post this question here. – Fred Nelson Jul 20 '15 at 17:27
  • Agree with @austinian: the symptom you describe points to a networking issue, it doesn't seem to point in any way to needing a Domain. AFAIK the primary advantage of a domain over a workgroup is the ability to centralize management of computers/users. It certainly shouldn't affect internet "access" in the way you described. – Get-HomeByFiveOClock Jul 20 '15 at 19:02
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I used to work in an environment with 5,000 workgroup computers--no domain. I can assure you that it's not Active Directory (or your lack of same).

My personal opinion is that yes, there are a lot of benefits to installing a domain controller, including software installs, authentication, etc., but one of these benefits will most likely not be an end to your intermittent Internet connectivity problems. (Unless your workstations are losing their DNS minds and using a domain controller for the main DNS server fixes the problem.)

I agree with everyone in the comments above that this is a general network issue and is not related to workgroups vs. Active Directory. My instinct is to suggest you look at DHCP, but that's only a guess.

  • Thank you SOOO MUCH for your help! I'll spend my time checking cables and not going to AD! – Fred Nelson Jul 21 '15 at 14:54
  • 5,000 computers without AD? But you had to manage them somehow? – Michael Hampton Aug 1 '15 at 23:56
  • Ha ha, yes. We had really "thick" images for our workstations and used management software (Altiris Deployment Solution, but there are others). I'm sure you've seen my other answer. – Katherine Villyard Aug 2 '15 at 1:20

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