Adding a Computer to a Domain

Guest blogger D. J. Moore writes:

Adding a computer to a domain can seem like a daunting task at first if you are new to the procedure. Take it from someone who didn’t know a domain controller from a database server a few years ago! No matter how daunting it may seem now, it’s actually quite simple in the end. There are just a few things you need to know before we go about adding a computer to a domain.

A domain is a subnetwork made up of a group of clients and servers under the control of one central security database on a LAN (Local Area Network). Most domains are linked to the Internet, but this is not necessary. Not all domains have to be public, registered domains, either.

Domain Controller
A domain controller is a server that handles authentication and authorization throughout a domain via a database of users. The most common domain controller in the business world is Windows Server that uses Active Directory (Domain Services). Active Directory uses the Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) to access and maintain distributed directory information across a network.

A client can be a number of different things. Most typically it is another computer. For the purpose of this article, our client is a Dell system unit running Windows 7 Professional. Anything below the level of Windows 7 Professional does not have the capability to join a domain, only workgroups (Home Groups).

The 10 Step Process for Joining a Domain

Step One

Starting at the desktop, click the Start button. Find Computer and right-click the menu item. A submenu will appear, and you will select Properties, as displayed in the picture.

Adding a Computer to a Domain

Step Two

The System Properties window will appear. Under the Computer Name, Domain, and Workgroup settings. you will see a shield icon with Change Settings. Click this text link.

Adding a Computer to a Domain

Step Three

The System Properties dialog box will appear. Under the Computer Name, tab click the Change… button.

Adding a Computer to a Domain

Step Four

A Computer Name/Domain Changes dialog box will appear. Under the Member of section, select the Domain radio button. Input your domain into the field. Your domain name will be supplied by your supervisor or network administrator.

Adding a Computer to a Domain

Important! Before adding a system to the domain, make sure there is no other system with that same name.

Adding a Computer to a Domain

Step Five

Another dialog box will appear immediately, prompting you to log in using your domain/network credentials. Input your username and password and click the OK button.

Step Six

If you managed to input all your credentials correctly, and you achieve connectivity to the domain controller, you will be welcomed to the xxxxxxxxxx domain.

Step Seven

You will be prompted to restart your system. Click the OK button.

Adding a Computer to a Domain

Adding a Computer to a Domain

Adding a Computer to a Domain

Step Eight

You will be prompted again to restart the computer from the System Properties dialog box near the bottom of the box with Changes will take effect after you restart this computer. Click the Close button.

Step Nine

You will at last be prompted to restart your system again after closing the prior dialog box. Click the Restart Now button to complete the process.

Adding a Computer to a Domain

Step Ten

After restarting, you will be welcomed back to Windows with the user logon screen. You will notice that the default login account is a local machine account “MachineName\Username”. Just below the password field, click the “Switch User” button. At the next screen click the “Other User” button (presumably with no display picture). This will automatically put you on the domain. Just sign in with your normal domain credentials beyond this point.

Note: To log back in to the machine account, type in .\Username (Where username is the name of your local account, such as the default Administrator: .\Administrator). Input your password and log in to a local off-domain account.

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  1. Don Goldsmith says:

    How about a walk through for setting up a Domain Controller!
    Great article though!

  2. Naren says:

    I second Don’s request. Thanks in advance.

  3. D. J. says:

    Guys, I’ve love to step your through that, but I’m not all that familar with it myself, and do not currently have a machine to show you on. I have done it before, and there is a wealth of information to be had from old techs on YouTube that want to share their passion!
    This is the first person I learned the most from on YouTube:
    I went on to order his instructional DVDs, also. Sadly, I lost the DVD and was never able to complete the course he had laid out. It’s every bit worth the $60 he’s charging. I believe he also does some kind of online training last time I checked. He’s been working with Windows Servers before Windows Server 2000 even came out!
    When I was tinkering with Active Directory on Windows Server 2008 R2 it was on an unused laptop at work. That was my Domain Controller to learn on. At the time we had no domain and only 20 computers and about 30 users. Since I’ve transferred sites, to one with a working Domain Controller, I’ve learned so much more.
    There is a CompTIA Server+ test that I have not taken, but it is on my list! Get a good foundation with A+ and Network+ first, though! Best of luck!

  4. D. J. says:

    Thank you for your feedback. :-)
    I have setup only one domain controller before on Windows Server 2008 R2 for a SOHO. It was never put into production, and that was a blessing too, since I didn’t have the DNS Server setup right! I do not think I am the man for the job, plus it is a long and boring blog post. There is no story to tell. :-)
    Alas, finding GOOD free information on this topic is hard, though. There is a reason for it. It takes money and time to gain that kind of knowledge. It is not just something anyone can just set down and Forest Gump their way through. 😉
    For a good wealth of information on this topic check this man out:
    He has lessons on DVD and online, too. I used all his information to help me setup my learning 2008 machine, which was an old laptop with a busted LCD.

  5. Lee says:

    One part that could be slightly confusing for new readers is the sentence:
    ” Anything below the level of Windows 7 Professional does not have the capability to join a domain, only workgroups (Home Groups).”

    To me, this sounds like you’re saying that no version of Windows earlier than Windows 7 can join a domain. I understand that you’re trying to say that no version of Windows 7 lower than Pro can join a domain, but the sentence could be confusing to some readers.
    For any future readers, older versions of Windows CAN join a domain (I’ve seen computers running Windows 2000 joined on a domain with Windows 7 PC’s).

  6. D. J. says:

    You are correct.
    I made that statement, because the whole process is written in the context of Windows 7, so it makes sense. And yes, other, older versions of Windows can join, as long as they have the capability, which usually means any grade above Professional. :-)

  7. anonymous343848 says:

    no i know but how ever you can join a domain of Server 2003 with windows 95 ….. hopefully that Windows server 2008 R2 with its HIGHER processing amount and more security can help out older sytems for some users in the world