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Windows Server Domain


In an attempt to get some familiarity with the administration of Microsoft Windows Server based domains, I have built a Windows Server domain at my home. These pages describe the hardware and software that I currently have running, they provide an overview of my setup and experiences that I have had along the way, but for more detailed information, you will need to refer to other, more comprehensive, sites - Microsoft themselves are probably the best place to start.

I will try to describe the configuration of my network and my understanding of how Windows Domains can be configured, but not necessarily how they should be!

I am not a certified MCSE, nor do I have any of the other Microsoft "badges", I have had a little experience managing a small (and I mean very small) Windows domain in the course of my work, but am little more than an enthusiastic amateur. These are my experiences, your mileage may vary, and as with all things Internet, caveat emptor!

For an overview of the current domain hardware, refer to the Architecture page. (coming soon . . . )

For a brief description of how things have evolved, refer to the History page.


Note: It goes without saying - but I'll mention it anyway, in a typical home environment, a Windows Domain is not a cost effective method for providing the features and services that I actually use. There are low cost, or even free solutions, predominantly based on one of the many flavours of Linux, for achieving the same results. The biggest driver in my selection of Windows Server was to use my home network as a test lab, using it to gain knowledge and experience of a Windows Server environment.

When I started this, Microsoft had a program called TechNet, an annual subscription service that included access to a wide range of Microsoft products that could be downloaded and used without restriction in non-production environments, e.g., "test labs". You were allowed to download and activate multiple copies of the software, including full Windows Server installations. Even for home lab use, this facility was exceptional value for money, but sadly, was widely abused by unscrupulous eBay traders. A large quantity of TechNet keys were sold through eBay and Microsoft eventually pulled the plug on TechNet in 2013. Although new keys are no longer available, any previously downloaded keys continue to work with the software products available at the time. TechNet allowed a fully functioning Windows domain to be configured at low cost, unfortunately, that is no longer the case and whilst 180 day "Trial" downloads are available, more permanent solutions now require significantly more investment in software.


It should also be noted that these pages are a "work in progress" - and likely always will be! They probably won't reflect the latest status of my systems and will get updated as and when I have a few minutes to spare.

(As of January 2021, the domain functional level is Windows Server 2008, with domain controllers on Windows 2008R2 and applications servers running a range of Server versions from 2003 to 2012R2 though I am about to migrate the domain to Windows Server 2016 or 2019.)





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