Windows Server 2003 Setup Guide

The Windows Server line of products offers a considerable amount of features directed towards many different kinds of users. Among these include the famous Active Directory domain, Group Policy Management, IIS, WSUS, and many others. In this guide, I will first run through the installation process for Windows Server 2003, and then explain some of the most commonly utilized features in this operating system.

Requirements, Cost Analysis, Purchasing Windows

We begin by discussing the hardware requirements of Windows Server 2003. Microsoft says that you need


Computer and processor

PC with a 133-MHz processor required; 550-MHz or faster processor recommended (Windows Server 2003 Standard Edition supports up to four processors on one server)


128 MB of RAM required; 256 MB or more recommended; 4 GB maximum

Hard disk

1.25 to 2 GB of available hard-disk space


CD-ROM or DVD-ROM drive


VGA or hardware that supports console redirection required; Super VGA supporting 800 x 600 or higher-resolution monitor recommended

However, as you are probably well-aware of, requirements and recommendations do not always equate, and generally speaking, I would personally recommend (for any serious server environment) at least 1 GB of RAM and a 2.6 Ghz. Intel / 1.8 GHz AMD processor. In addition, remember what the purposes of your server will be, and adjust the amount of space available to your server accordingly. For example, a simple domain controller does not need terabytes of space, but the budding Exchange or file server may require much hard disk space. Use common sense here.

Now, the more important question is, “Why?” Why use Windows Server 2003 and pay exorbitant amounts of money to Redmond when you can use Windows 2000 or XP (clients) and run all of the same programs that you can on Server? If you didn’t know, very few (if any) programs exist that can only be run on Windows Server products, and the ones that do exist are generally Microsoft products. Everything from Oracle to Apache can be run on any Windows 2000 or XP client. Now back to our original question, “Why?” Simply put, when you pay for Windows Server 2003, you are really paying for Active Directory and all of its inherent sub-features.

Active Directory allows Windows to utilize LDAP (a directory protocol) in a natively Windows environment. In short, it allows users to connect, logon to, and interact with a central server that acts as a mediator between client PC’s. The implications are enormous. Through Active Directory, you can force automatic software installation, mandate the Automatic Update system, define security zones for IE, and so forth. The point is that Active Directory allows a systems administrator to achieve more work in less time, and that’s music to everyone’s ears.

It is important to note, however, that not everybody can benefit from Windows Server and Active Directory. A systems administrator of a company with more than a few computers can definitely benefit from Windows Server, but if you use your PC to play games and read email, there is absolutely no reason for you to bother with it. Windows Server 2003 is on the pricey side, and to spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars on Server would be a tremendous waste of money if Server does not save you time (and therefore money). How then do you know if Windows Server 2003 is right for you? I recommend that you read through this guide, take a look at some of the things that Server 2003 can do, and then decide that for yourself.

Once you have read through the guide and decided to spring for Windows Server 2003, there are a plethora of places that you can purchase Server from, and some even offer very nice pricing. I would personally recommend (for larger companies) an organization like CDW that deals with customers regularly and understands the software business well. However, for smaller operations, it may be beneficial to purchase Windows Server 2003 from one of the many small online retailers. Here are a few that I found after a quick search on Google (note that neither PC Mechanic nor I endorse any of these retailers):

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  1. mohamed shafi says:

    i really want to know more about windows server 2003.

  2. John Amakali says:

    After I setup my Windows Server 2003, I am failig to log on with the domain server that I have just created. Can somebody tell me how to link other computers (with Win XP and Vista) to my server

  3. Deck Hazen says:

    Hi folks,

    I appreciate the effort, but the title is “Windows Server 2003 Setup Guide” and I was hoping for some setup information – not a buyers guide.

    Thanks ,

    — Deck

  4. Brian Souder says:

    This was not a bad beginner’s article. In fact, it is the first one that explained the domain name in AD setup. I was really confused by this initially. There was nothing saying you could have or yourcompany.local and what the differences were. It REALLY pissed me off when the books would all say (Use Appropriate Server Info) for that section. How was I supposed to know what was appropriate on my first install. You might want to even expand that a little. You should do a follow on or expansion for the DHCP, DNS, and WINS as well. This can be confusing as well, and in an XP or Vista environment, you would be using them.

    To John’s comment – You need to add the workstation to the Domain. I am assuming you got into the server just fine. On one of the workstations, go to My Computer and right click, and then select Properties. Now click on the Computer Name tab. Near the bottom right of the window select change. At the top will be the comnputer name, and at the bottom will be Workgroup and Domain. Change the radio button to Domain, and then enter the name of the domain you created. If you picked YourCompany.local in the setup, enter YourCompany, and select OK. You will be prompted for the domain administrator credentials. Administrator and what ever you set the server administrator password to. You will get a series of dialogue boxes you hiy ok to. After the last one, you will need to restart the workstation. When it restartes, you can use Administrator, the domain administrator password, and there will be a new drop down box. It will probably says “This Computer”. Change it to the domain you picked, and then login. You are now on the domain. If you followed the tutorial and setup user accounts, you need to add those domain users to the workstation to login as the user. The user effectively has no right at the moment to the workstation. If you setup a user named “userone”, we add them to the workstation as follows. Right click My Computer and select Manage. Select Local User and Groups. The Users folder is “LOCAL” user accounts – meaning only on that workstation. So you want to select GROUPS. You can select the level of user rights and add them to that group. generally you do not want your users above Power User, but this is dictated by the software you use, and the level of control you want the user to have. There are tons of articles on this stuff. So let’s click Power Users. In the new window, select Add, and in the white open space, start typing “userone” (this is just an example name – you might use first initial and last name such as jsmith – or – john.smith – etc — again – there are tons of articles on naming schemes for users and workstations). So in our example, we start typing “userone” – we can actually type “user” and then use the check name button to the right, and it should either find the user or give you a list. For example if we had userone, usertwo, userthree – it would find all three in the list because they all start with user. It would be waiting for you to pick which one. So pick the user, and it should appear in the white window where you were typing. Be careful if you have a local user account with the same name, it can get confused. You see people using things like John for user names. They have no place on a domain – so don’t do it. It also gives you the chance to migrate the user’s profile to their new domain account profile you are going to create the first time you login as the user. So once you have the use in, hit ok until your boxes are gone, and then logoff as the Domain Administrator. Now change the user name to the user you picked. In our example it was userone. Login with the password. The first login will take a while as it sets up the profile. You are now on the domain as a user you setup.

    Deck hanzen – dude – you have to clieck the next button at the bottom of the article. In his defense – i did not see it at first either. You guys need to put space between the buttons. Keep up the good work though.

  5. Brian Souder says:

    Oops – made a typo in there when I was changing a few things around. WINS for a mixed NT, 98 with XP and Vista.

  6. beginner question.. what is the difference between windows server 2003 and r2?
    after i installed windows server 2003, what should i do next?

  7. I thought this tutorial for an entry level tutorial was laid out quite well. I pass this tutorial to others who are curious or have questions on a base level how a domain is set up. In my opinion this tutorial is 5\5 stars. For those who commented about the websites format and lay out; I agree about the previous-Next Page link. Whoever href’d that was in a hurry and it probably was not at focus, but it makes up for such a nit picky code eye pain by the one of a kind windows server 2003 tutorial. This gentlemen really took his time of the day to paint the bigger picture in a “for Dummies” level tutorial. If you have been working as a desktop technician pushing images to workstations, building batch scripts and been using AD users and Computers snap in with limited rights to AD and always wanted to grasp the true understanding of how your jobs network operates this tutorial teaches you how you would set it up. The rest of the gaps were clearly stated “Out Of Scope”, thus issues that go to mind such as security policy settings, and all the in’s and out’s of security options one could do would have taken way to long. A great job here was done, and if anyone has written a tutorial you know the temptation to want to deviate and go on tangents explaining things more in depth while at the same time getting further off track of the focus of the tutorials direction. He kept great control here with that, and this tutorial litterally brought it together for me. My mind goes crazy on what I want to do at work with this information in mind. Most of us who work desktop support jobs have what it takes to engineer a domain, and could code in share point scripts to write credentials to apps, and so forth, but because were not MCSE certified we dont get to touch the DC’s. “In my case that is” . I recently took a job where “I” am the “ADMIN” over the domain for a very small business, and with freedom to do as I wish on the domain I created with only but 60 machines and users I am advancing allot. We use a cisco router here and a business line broadband modem since I am the sould systems engineer per say I am also responsible for it. So I play with subnetting and so forth in my free time, and every day is not a boring day all because of this tutorial which helped me get the job! Every day I am setting policies, locking down users machines. The boss\Owner who didnt have a domain setup and each phone agent was just taking calls, and had an independent machine with full admin rights didnt know any better. I made suggestions and told him we were going to need to domain this work environment and sold him on letting me go to Dell’s website, bought a server with a packaged lisence deal. Then I setup 3 other child servers, one as a file server, printer server, and using newer workstations with the w2k3 OS for the roles. I build scripts in c++ to do profile backups etc… my days flyyyyyyy it’s almost not even a job to me, but a do something I love and get paid type of work. This tutorial being primarily text based versus youtube video’s really put the confidence in me enough to present the benefits to the owner to make him buy a $3k server package. It was all worth it to him once I setup policies that allowed him to stealthly RDC into his employee’s workstations and see what they are doing when he wanted. I am doing research on Magic Jack type phone setups to save the token phone setup he is paying out the nose for on a monthly basis. My ideal is to have a very cost efficient call system in which phone calls can be recorded and monitored and even be remotely monitored real time to kind of do some call quality. All of these measures are being coerced by the knowledge I have and how it can save money and make business operations more efficient ALL THANKS TO GOOD LAID OUT TUTORIALS LIKE THIS ONE!!! It’s only until now that I wrote a comment on this tutorial I should have done so when I first read it.

  8. I can’t see the link for the next page of the tutorial. Where is it?

  9. Guide is excellent however please correct the images. They are currently broken due to a script error.

  10. Any chance you could fix the images and also expand on roaming profiles?


  11. Spanishgirl says:

    Cant say much for this posting its of little or no use to anyone setting up sever 2003 like my dad used to tell me if you dount know what ur talking about just shut up and listen to some one thats done it instead of waisting every ones time good intensions are like ass holes everyones got one

  12. Bla Bla Bla why don’t you suck my dick???

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