How do I make a PC a file server to four others?

I don’t imagine I’m going to do this myself, although I would like to, but I would like some advice from people not trying to sell me something.

I have a windows XP Pro, intel xeon desktop which will be the file server and I will be to buying three windows 7 Pro PCs and use an existing XP Pro PC for the four user PCs.

(a quick aside - I was going to buy a NAS box as the file server but I’m told that they are linux and I need windows operating system as a database I’m going to create on the server needs to be first created in a program that only works on windows)

I’m probably not even asking the right questions, but they’re the best I’ve got at the moment:

Do I network them using cable or wireless - if cable, is that going to be Ethernet cables?

How do all the users get to see files on the server? Mapping the drive or something. ugh

… I also need to get the existing three PC’s My Document folders onto the server in one unified folder/drive/something … at what point should I do this?

How do I put two new harddrives into the server PC and have one make a backup copy of the other?

Please take on one or more of those questions or anything else that you think might help bridge this knowledge gap - sandbag sized contributions very welcome; small handfuls also gratefully accepted. Thanks.

I’ve had a £500/$800USD quote for this but I’d be properly miffed if he just came in and switched on the new PCs and took a bow.

Install FileZilla FTP server. That’s free from what I know. Works on Windows.

Otherwise if you mean regular windows shared drive, set it up, add on other computers as mapped network drive.

Wireless is pretty reliable. But Ethernet cable is the only cable around now for home users.

To get drives to back up the other, set them up as RAID1. Get two identically sized drives.

To be honest I have no idea why you want to do this. Especially the my documents folders. You’ll need to tell people to specifically save on your file server instead of in their default my documents. Might want to lookup if there is a windows registry change you can do to set the default My Documents folder to something else (like your file server)

Thanks for the reply

We are a small business and artwork is on one pc, accounts on another etc. So if I want to view artwork, which is in someone else’s My Documents via network places. With major folders like artwork, they are easy to find as I know where they are, but when people start to create folders in their My Docs are probably better on someone else’s PC it starts to cause problems - death by a thousand cuts.

The NAS box should work – they run Linux, but you access them from windows. And that will be alot simpler than managing a network and shares across it in most cases.

You might want to look at windows home server; it handles most of the sharing. And probably the most important bit – backup.