Workgroups vs Domains

Computers on a network can be part of a workgroup or a domain.

In a workgroup, the security database (including, most significantly, the list of user accounts and the privileges granted to each one) for each computer resides on that computer. When you log on to a computer in a workgroup, Windows checks its local security database to see if you've provided a user name and password that matches one in the database. Similarly, when network users attempt to connect to your computer, Windows again consults the local security database. All computers in a workgroup must be on the same subnet. A workgroup is sometimes called a peer-to-peer network.

By contrast, a domain consists of computers that share a security database stored on one or more domain controllers running Windows Server. When you log on using a domain account, Windows authenticates your credentials against the security database on a domain controller.

In this chapter (and throughout this book), we focus primarily on workgroup networks.

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