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Basically what I would like is to setup a network to allow all employees in our business to have a central user system and file storage (Then if one machine fails there should be no loss of data).

However I am confused by what 'CAL's are and if I need to buy or how many I need to buy? We currently have 4 machines and 5 users.

I have got Windows 7 Professional licence running on each of these machines, and do not understand whether I then need to buy yet another licence just to connect to this machine?

From what I have seen I just need to set this server up, and connect my current PC network up to this 'domain' or have I misread something?

I am working on a small budget, and do not wish to spend to much money on the infrastructure if possible.

Edit: Could any one explain if there is much difference between Standard and Essentials for Small Business Server? As I don't believe you need CAL's on the Essentials but not sure what you would lose?

I hope someone can help - I seem to have spent all day on Google without finding anything out.

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The CAL (Client Access Licence) is required for your clients to connect to your domain.

So, yes, you will need to invest in those. Your Windows 7 licences are not enough for that.

But consider this, some versions of Windows Server (especially the SBS variants) come with a certain number of CALs already.

  • The Small Business Server 2011 Standard is available with up to 75 CALs, but is generally (to my knowledge) sold with 5 CALs (and you can make those either user or device CALs).
  • A Small Business Server 2011 Essentials allows a fixed number of 25 users.

Please note, Microsoft defines several CALs. Usually, for a server, you'd have a normal access CAL which allows a client access to it. That does not automatically allow the user access to an Exchange service (if you have that).
The CALs you get with a Small Business Server also include access to the included Exchange service (note that Exchange is not included in the Essentials version of SBS).

Additional CALs can be purchased later on (up to the maximum your server allows) and you can usually decide if you assign CALs for a device or a user. The distinction really only matters if you have a drastic difference in users and devices (like 100 devices, but only 10 users).

The whole thing can get quite complicated and it can be hard to pick the right set of CALs for your business (especially if you run many Microsoft services). But, as the name implies, the Small Business Server is targeted at businesses like yours.

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Many thanks for your help - I finally understand what they are for! I currently use Google Apps for emails and calendars etc so I think that the essentials will probably be best for my business, and fits into the budget better! –  Daniel Mar 17 '12 at 15:02

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