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Can I have one machine act as a DC and a terminal server?

I am planning a Windows 2000 network from scratch. I have two locations connected by a dedicated T1 and a total of 50 users, 30 of which are in the building that will house the server. I am planning on using terminal services to host the core dealer management software, Office (to selected users) and possibly DVD-ROM-based service manuals to the repair shop. All the clients are either Win9x or Win2k.

The budget is a bit tight, so I am wondering if I can get away with having the server as a domain controller and well as a terminal server. All the logons occur in the morning. Once everyone is on, they stay on, so I expect a performance hit in the morning. Am I going about this the proper way, or should I suck it up and get another box for a DC?

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You can make a domain controller a terminal server if you edit user permissions to allow them to log on interactively with a domain controller. (Otherwise, only administrators will be able to log on.) However, I don't recommend doing so. A domain controller is not just active at user logon, and the double duty of authenticating users and supporting 50 users running applications will put a big strain on the computer -- and hurt performance in both directions. Also, I'm not crazy about putting users on a domain controller. If the terminal server crashes due to a buggy driver or some other user environment problem, you've lost your domain controller.

This was first published in June 2003

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