Restore a handful of PCs
May 23, 2016 1:59 PM   Subscribe

We are a small dive shop in Hawaii and have around ten PCs with different versions of Windows installed. Over the years, they've gotten cluttered with a lot of extra files, software, etc. I'd like to clean them all up and get them running the same version of Windows, possibly in a domain configuration (with one machine running a copy of Windows Server).

What is the most cost-effective way to do this? Is there a way to download and license ten or so copies of Windows 10? If I want to run Windows Server, I'll need the operating system and the CAL packs for each machine connected to the server, correct?

I'd prefer not to spend a few hundred dollars per machine - if so, I'll consider getting new computers. Thanks guys!
posted by roygbv to Computers & Internet (4 answers total)
 
If they are old enough to be running Windows XP or Vista, I'd consider punting them, as they are not going to perform all that well with Windows 10, the licenses will not be free, and the hardware will be at the point they might not be long for the world.

If they are Windows 7 or newer, you should be eligible for the free upgrade to Windows 10.

You might look into something like Puppet or Chef for maintaining consistency across the different computers. I know they support Windows, though I don't know how well.
posted by Candleman at 2:52 PM on May 23, 2016


You'll need Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials, which is $500. You can install Essentials (max 25 users) on your own computer, or buy a server with Windows Server 2012 R2 Foundation (max 15 users) already installed. (You can't buy Foundation on its own). Essentials seems to be simpler but less flexible. I believe that Essentials and Foundation do not require purchasing CALs.

If you're going super low budget, get some external hard drives that you rotate out for backups.

You'll need Windows 10 Pro to join the domain you would be setting up, and that's $200 per license. You can also buy computers with Windows 10 Pro preinstalled. If you have less than either a Core 2 Duo or 2 GB of RAM, buy new computers.

Based on a quick search, if you have a Windows 7 Home machine, you can upgrade it to Windows 10 Home for free until July, and then to Windows 10 Pro for $100.

You might save money by using Microsoft's volume licensing. Your best bet here is to call a reseller. There might be one locally and there are lots around the country. CDW was a go to in the past. They were expensive, but very reliable. Maybe other folks can chime in with other suggestions.

Oddly, I'm going to be on the North Shore of Oahu Thursday. If that's where you are and you rent good snorkel gear, I could probably stop in on Friday, since I'm getting snorkel gear that day anyway. It's been a few years since I did this kind of work, but I don't mind having a conversation about it. Memail me.
posted by cnc at 4:18 PM on May 23, 2016 [5 favorites]


And 1: If you do buy new(er) machines, consider buying refurbished. These generally come with a short warranty and are likely to come with a version of Windows 7 (Professional or Ultimate) or Windows 8 (Pro) you can upgrade to Windows 10 Pro for free. Note that you have to do the upgrade before July 25, when Microsoft stops offering it. I like Dell's refurbished program (Dell Outlet or Dellrefurbished.com). Look for coupons. Dell's refurbs are often 35% to 50% off. You wouldn't have much of a problem getting decent desktops for $300 or less that are eligible to upgrade to Windows 10 for free.
posted by cnc at 4:28 PM on May 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


The local computer/electronics store here in town converts everything to Linux Mint. I have mostly only ever owned Windows computers until I started shopping there, but Linux Mint is made to be very similar. If you're looking for cheap, Linux Mint might be the way to go. It works well and doesn't cost anything unless you choose to donate.
posted by aniola at 5:11 PM on May 23, 2016 [2 favorites]


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