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How do servers work?

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JohnnyTheRed

Member
Joined
Aug 9, 2002
Location
Brockton MA
Windows 2000 Server. Windows 2003 Server. MIcrosoft Exchange Server.

What is the basic principle behind these?

Are they central storage devices? Clients connect to them, and can access other clients' shared devices (files, printers, internet, etc).

Do they act as routers - for both the internal LAN, as well as the external WAN?

Is there any benefit to running a Server OS on a home network? Other than to learn that OS?

I've got all three aforementioned server OSes, and some spare comps. I run one comp as a internet host of sorts. I just wanted to set up another comp with a server OS to see what it can do, but I just wanted a general idea of what I'm in for.

Thanks
 

Chris

Member
Joined
Sep 30, 2001
Location
England, UK
Well it all depends on what you want the Server to do, Windows2000 can act as a file server or share net access just the basic stuff, but if you want to get more into a proper server then you need to use a server OS like 200 server, 2003 server then these servers can do just about everything such as routing, DHCP, file server, print server, e-mail server, HTTP server etc.
 
OP
JohnnyTheRed

JohnnyTheRed

Member
Joined
Aug 9, 2002
Location
Brockton MA
What's the difference between Win XP and Win 2000?

Would one of those server OSes (200, 2003, or Exchange) be any benefit for a home network. Files are repeatedly being transferred between 5-8 computers I have here at home. Xp Pro seems to do the trick fine, but the bugs aren't fully worked out (I get access denied errors still, at certain times :/ ). [I've been using Win98 until recently, and networking was much easier in those times...and much more lax]

- Thanks
 

Ridenow

Sneaky Moderator
Joined
Apr 17, 2001
Location
Springfield, IL
Where to start...

In most cases servers are used mostly for storage. Hardware-wise they are a little more powerful than the average computer. Most have larger hard drives and more memory than a desktop. This is not to say that a desktop can not be used as a server.

Operating System depends on what you are using the server for.

Exchange is not an OS, it is a program that controls email. It is an application usually run on a computer usually using Windows 2000 server or something similar as the OS. Think of it as a virtual post office program.

Win XP, NT, 2000, 2003 all can be used on a server. The more "server" OSes have features to help them operate on a network and run more hardware. For example Windows 2000 pro (the workstation edition) is equiped to run single or dual processor computers and does not have many RAID controller drivers incuded. Windows 2000 Server can handle computers with up to 32 processors (I think, it might be 64) and includes drivers for more RAID cards and other related hardware. The difference is basically what tools come with the OS.

Servers can be used as routers, depending on the software, but usually other networking equipment is used. A server setup as a domain controller verifies passwords and loads user profiles. I have one on my home network. It allows any member of my family to walk up to any computer, put in their name and a password. The domain controller verifies the password and if it is valid will load their profile. This means that Mom can use Dad's computer without having his Rolling Stones background come up. Her Beach background comes up and everything looks just like it would on her computer.
 

FunkDaMonkMan

Member
Joined
Dec 31, 2001
Ridenow said:
I have one on my home network. It allows any member of my family to walk up to any computer, put in their name and a password. The domain controller verifies the password and if it is valid will load their profile. This means that Mom can use Dad's computer without having his Rolling Stones background come up. Her Beach background comes up and everything looks just like it would on her computer.

cool....


does this only work for the profile though?

Your dad's programs wouldn't load on your mom's computer, right?
 

Movax

Member
Joined
May 25, 2002
Location
Ontario
The main idea of a Windows server (or any network) is to share resources (files, printers, etc) among many computers and to only allow valid users to access to the network. If you don't have a valid name and password you can't get in. You can also administor what different users can do (install programs, access the internet) and what resources they can access.
 

Ridenow

Sneaky Moderator
Joined
Apr 17, 2001
Location
Springfield, IL
Ok. I do not claim to fully understand all of how they work, but I know the basics.

In Windows 2000 the profile is stored on the server. When you login to a computer on the network it checks the server and copies the profile to the computer. It will create a folder in the Documents and settings folder for that user and copy the profile there. The profile contains all of the settings for the user, what networked printers they are connected to, what icons they have on the desktop, what background they have.... When they log off the profile is copied back from the computer to the server to update any changes that were made.
Anyone with a valid acount can login to any computer on the network with the domain controller and get their profile. Dad can login to Mom's computer, or one of mine, and get his settings, including his background.
There are a few catches. Mom has CreataCard greeting card maker software on her computer. If she logs into another computer the icon shows up on the desktop, but if she clicks on it she will get an invalid link error.
There are a few fixes for that. I can install that software on all of the computers on the network or I can install it on the server where it would be accessable from all of the computers.

Another thing I do with my server is I setup a "home" share. I created a folder on the server and shared it with all valid users. I then added that share to everyone's profile. When they login it will map that folder as if it was another hard drive in the computer.
Lets say I wanted to have Dad listen to an mp3. I would save it to that share and holler downstairs ;) to Dad that it was on the home. He would open the My Computer icon, open the H: drive and there it would be.
 

su root

Senior Member, --, I teach people how to read your
Joined
Aug 25, 2001
Location
Ontario, Canada
Most modern OSes have some capability to become servers, for example, Win2k Pro, and WinXP, commonly workstation OSes have the ability to share files and printers, but only to 10 people at a time. Servers like Win2k and Win2k3 are limited by number of licences, and not 10 people at a time.

It's what programs the computer is running that defines whether it is a server. The server OS is simply geared better for server uses.

Servers also posess the ability to take control of your network by running a "domain". In a domain, all computers are connected to the domain, including workstations and servers are governed by the domain's rules and regulations. All logins are verified by the domain servers (as opposed to locally at the computer).