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I have a small network of five machines (some Windows XP, some Windows 7) that need to give access to a dozen or so users, however there is no domain controller present and we can't acquire another machine to act as one or purchase a server OS.

If one of the existing machines could function this way without having to purchase a new OS that would work fine, but unfortunately the process for acquiring a new machine/OS is not feasible in this case.

How can I create and manage their user accounts so that I'm not creating and setting passwords on each machine individually?

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Without a domain server there isn't a way to do this. – Ramhound May 2 '13 at 19:31
Keep in mind that your domain server doesn't necessarily have to be a Windows server. – rob May 29 '13 at 4:30

You will need a server to do it easily, but since that's out of the question....

You can use the net user command as an admin to create or manage users. I would recommend writing a script with what you need, then running the script on the computers, either from a file share or a flash drive.

An example of the full command can be seen here:

net user NewAdminAccount NewAdminPassword123
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Yeah, I suppose that would work, except I don't want to store the passwords in plaintext... – Bob May 2 '13 at 15:43
Then you can't, unless you use the * operator for the password, then it prompts you for each password, which increases the chances of messing up. If you run a script from a flash drive, just destroy the script when all the computers are updated, and keep it in your possession – Canadian Luke May 2 '13 at 15:49

You could install Linux on one of the machines either as the main OS or in a VM and configure it as a domain controller using Samba. Ubuntu is one of the more popular and user-friendly Linux distros.

Also keep in mind that you need Windows XP/7 Professional in order to configure a domain. Windows XP/7 Home and Home Premium cannot join a Windows domain.

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