You may not realize this, but:- if you have 2 or more computers, then you really need a DC (Domain Controller).
In a situation where two or more computers are networked, and especially if they share files, internet and printers, etc, then you will soon have all sorts of mysterious problems:
- the shared folders will disappear or not be accessible all the time
- the shared printers will disappear or not be accessible all the time
- security will be a nightmare to control, since shares and passwords will have to be identical on all computers.
The reason is simple: each computer controls itself, ie: its own “domain”. The first thing to do is to put all the computers in the same WORKGROUP. That will solve some - but not all - problems. The reason is that Microsoft made each computer a “BROWSER MASTER”, that wants to control itself, and the whole network it is connected to, as well. So, the first computer that gets switched on, becomes the BROWSER MASTER. This is fine, until this computer is switched off, or goes to sleep. Then all the other computers take part in a “forced election”, to determine which computer will now be the “browser master”. This “election” is based on a number of criteria, including the version of the operating system, the newest operating system will win. So, Windows XP will beat Windows NT, Vista will beat Windows XP, and Windows 7 will beat them all. This “election” process takes longer and longer, depending on the number of computers involved. With 5 computers it can take up to an hour.
The solution is to a have a separate (physical or virtual) computer that will be designated as a DOMAIN MASTER or DC: Domain Controller. This computer usually then acts as the mail server, the file server and the print server as well. One of the many advantages of this system is that passwords that are changed on one computer is automatically updated on other computers as well. This DC then automatically assigns the same drive letters to all shares, assigns groups and security to shares, and even and many more. Companies typically save all the cost of such a system within 6 months, on reduced support costs, and increased productivity.