Digital Housing Hub - #digihousing

where social housing providers meet to help their residents embrace the web

Hi all, we have a lovely set of brand new PCs in our community room in West Gorton but all stand alone and would like to network them. I have been advised we need to purchase a server and Windows 8 license any idea where I can start my research / good yet economic brands etc? Thanks for any help you can give !

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You should be able to get the software free (or greatly reduced) through the Microsoft Software donation programme here as a charity.

You'll need someone technically with a little bit of confidence as you need to use the volume licensing service to activate licences etc.. Good luck.

Out of interest why are you planning to network them?

Ah thanks James.

Well we thought it would be easier to maintain them, set passwords, connect to printer, control security settings if networked but very keen to hear your thoughts if you don't think its a good idea or worth it?

We have a volunteer network engineer to help luckily seeing as I don't even seem to be able spell computer !

Hehe - it happens to us all - I seem to do it more on this site than elsewhere - I blame the font!   ;-)

I was really just curious. We've always set up our laptops differently because they are used differently, so we have to set each up with their own security (we use an image we deploy through a small standalone server and network switch and hook them up for imaging to maintain consistent setups) and use software to set up a kiosk type configuration that forgets any changes during each power-up cycle.

Anyway the Microsoft donation programme should help you

Thanks again James, really appreciate the info you have shared, cheers Miranda


You don't need a server to network the PC's together, just need to assign a fixed IP to each machine on the same subnet (not very complicated to do). You also need a 'switch' that they all plug into (something like a netgear switch). This way they can all talk to each other and run off the same broadband connection. You can also set up a printer on this network that they can all talk to. It's very cheap and quick. If you use a router to connect to the broadband, this will automatically assign IPs and you won't have to manually assign them. Downside to al this, is if that if you want users to have their own accounts, they need to be set up on each computer individually and can't share the files across machines. It's better to have one standard user account on every machine that is secured and get residents to save their files to a USB drive. If you set up free AVG antivirus on the machines, you can set it up to automatically scan for and remove viruses from USB drives when they are plugged int. This would protect the PCs.

You only need a server if you want users to access their accounts and files across a business style network, from any machine - this is expensive and ultimately unnecessary.

Hope this helps! :)

Kindest regards,


Thanks Philip your advice most helpful and think we are now almost there ! Really appreciate your help, cheers Miranda


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