How should I manage 8 computers for a small business? Answered
My father's store has eight computers at the moment and management has been a bit, well, annoying. (I'm his IT guy at this point.) When the store only had 3 computer, managing them was as simple as scheduling defrags and virus scans, periodically fixing hardware issues and network problems, and reinstalling XP every few years. They had LogMeIn, which was nice, and helped get the computers back and running quickly. A few years later wiith eight computers, though, It's just too much. The biggest problem I'm facing now is the lack of automation among the different computers software-wise, especially when downloading new software. When installing AVG, I have to do it eight times. Updating LogMeIn? EIGHT FRIGGIN TIMES!
I noticed that my entire town's school system's computer' system's IT people's method to manage their thousands of computers was a great approach, (don't mind the apostrophe's,) and I hope to try to apply similar management methods to the store. The thing that I'd really like to do is to have all of the computers, essentially, be identical. This means, for example, that all user accounts work on all computers, and the hard drives' contents would be identical, other than specific drivers for the different computers.
So, where do I start? (I wouldn't mind doing some light programing for that, or, em, scripting would be the term, actually.) I assume I need a server of some sort, probably a logon/PXE/FTP windows server, right? Or would it be simpler if I do the whole thing using Linux? Do I need a specialty program? Should an actual IT guy be hired at this point? Please help.