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A simple server for 5 computers - Will it work?

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Posted at 2017-2-6 14:23:54 | All floors |Read mode
Hello everyone, I'm not a networking Guru but I know a thing or to & require a little help from smart/experienced users on building a server.

I plan to build a powerful PC to run 5 (maybe 6) computers for my community club. I'm not interested in the specs, I just need to be able to use the same account from anywhere in the room (like they have in schools). To simplify, I have posted a PICTURE below of my plan, will it work?



My questions are:
1. Will the ethernet switch be plugged into the ethernet port on the main pc
2. If so, then how will I get an internet connection (as their is only 1 ethernet port on the main pc), would I have to connect the modem to the switch?
3. Is this configuration correct?
Thanks guys, I'm looking forward to your reply!
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Posted at 2017-2-6 14:23:54 | All floors
Things are slightly different depending upon whether it is a modem or a modem/router. In either case you connect it directly to the switch.

For your network the server needs to act as DNS server and DHCP server. If you just have a modem then you also need to set up network routing on the server and configure the DHCP server to give the server address as the default router. If you have a modem/router it is easier - just configure the DHCP server to give the router's address as the default router. In both cases the DHCP server should set the server's address as the DNS server for clients.

So the answer to your question is:

1. Yes, the switch is connected to the ethernet port on the server.

2. The internet connection is supplied, as detailed above either by the modem/router or, if it is just a modem, by the server acting as a router.

3. Yes, the configuration is correct if you forget the modem to server connection.
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Posted at 2017-2-6 14:23:54 | All floors
Just to reinforce Ijack's opinion - this looks fine so long as you only plug the Router into the switch. It doesn't need to be connected directly to the server (unless it's a really old USB modem or something).

Also make sure DHCP is turned off on the router. You don't want the Server and Router fighting over who assigns addresses. Server should be the only DHCP and push out itself as the DNS server and the router as the default gateway.
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Posted at 2017-2-6 14:23:54 | All floors
I would also add that you likely don't need the Windows Server. That will greatly increase your cost. You can create the same-named account on each of your standalone PCs, and even use the same password if needed.

If your intent is to just allow each of the 5 PCs to access the Internet, then don't worry about the server. In fact, just get a network firewall/router with 5-8 ports, or just go wireless. The client PCs can all attach to that router, whether wireless or by wired connections. That will allow all of them to share the same connection.

Edit: Side note - if you want these PCs to access the Internet, I highly recommend you get kiosk software (like SiteKiosk or Kioware). That will stop people from messing them up too much, and you can even reset them each day back to the same configuration. It's a headache to clean up PCs, especially when you might have kids on them.
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 Author| Posted at 2017-2-6 14:23:54 | All floors
2Be_or_Not2Be Posted at 2014-7-24 16:08
I would also add that you likely don't need the Windows Server. That will greatly increase your cost ...

Thank you for your great help. Just as a side question, what basic/advanced software would you recommend for servers?
Like you mentioned, SiteKiosk which will reset the computers, are there any that for example restrict web access, control memory usage, allocate specific RAM/CPU power, monitor screens and messages etc.
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Posted at 2017-2-6 14:23:54 | All floors
hamzaahmad786 Posted at 2014-7-24 16:08
Thank you for your great help. Just as a side question, what basic/advanced software would you rec ...

I don't know your intended usage scenario. Do you need to create & control specific user accounts? Do you just need a generic acct that can have only certain rights to items?

If these clients only need access to the Internet along with perhaps access to specific programs on the PC itself, then you don't need a server. Your firewall/router can provide DHCP, DNS, and possibly even content filtering, if desired.

If you need to monitor what those clients do, for example, what they access on the Internet, then you will want to look at Content Filtering. Websense is a pretty established name in the commercial field, but there are many others like SurfControl, NetNanny, etc. Also check which might be better for individual/non-profit use.

The Kiosk software can help you control what happens on the PC as well. I was mildly surprised when at my local public library, I discovered the PCs there were running SiteKiosk. If that is your type of intended usage, then I would talk with the kiosk software vendors for more insight.
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