Windows Server 2012

Joining Windows Server 2012 to a Domain

How do I join Windows Server 2012 to a domain?

Before you start on your quest to join Windows Server 2012 to a domain, make sure that you can resolve the Active Directory (AD) domain name using DNS. Pinging the Fully Qualified Domain Name (FQDN) ensures that at least one domain controller (DC) is available to process your domain join request.

Check DNS resolution

  • Open a command prompt window on Windows Server 2012 by clicking the blue PowerShell icon on the desktop Task Bar or by typing CMD on the Start screen and pressing ENTER.
  • In the command prompt window, type ping <FQDN>, replacing <FQDN> with the Fully Qualified Domain Name for your Active Directory domain. For instance, this might look like Note that there’s no need to include the name of any particular domain controller.

If you don’t get a reply from the ping command, check that DNS is set up correctly on the machine that you are trying to join to the domain. There should be at least one DNS entry in the network card’s IP configuration settings. You can check the network adapter’s IP address configuration by typing ipconfig /all in the command prompt, where you should see at least one DNS server address listed. If a DNS server is present in the configuration but you still can’t successfully resolve the domain’s FQDN, you will need to do some more DNS and/or network troubleshooting.

Join the computer to a domain

  • Once you have established that DNS resolution is working correctly, open Server Manager from the icon on the desktop Task Bar or from the Start screen.
  • In Server Manager, select Local Server in the left pane.
  • In the right pane of Server Manager under Properties, click WORKGROUP.
  • In the System Properties dialog on the Computer Name tab, click Change.
  • In the Computer Name/Domain Changes dialog, click Domain, type the FQDN of your Active Directory domain and click OK.

Join Windows Server to a domain

  • In the Windows Security dialog, type a domain administrator username and password, or the credentials of another user account with permission to add computers to the domain, and click OK.
  • You should then see a welcome message to the domain. Click OK in the message dialog box.
  • When prompted to restart the computer, click OK.
  • Close the System Properties dialog.
  • Click Restart Now in the Microsoft Windows dialog.

Log on as a domain user

Once the computer has rebooted, log on as a domain administrator by clicking the Switch User arrow on the logon screen and then select Other user. You can then log on to the server as a domain user. If you want to log on with a domain user that happens to have the same name as a local user, type the domain username with the domain’s FQDN suffix, such as [email protected]

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Comments (1)

One response to “Joining Windows Server 2012 to a Domain”

  1. <p>Hi there. I know you posted this long ago, but I had a need to build some test infrastructure for a client I'm working with and its based on 2012R. I am not a Microsoft expert by any stretch but again need to put some basics together for testing. I built a new domain server which is the primary for a new test domain. I have the requirement to also build a member server that will have some utility software on it (dont want the utility software on the primary DC). So I built both servers and came across your "How'To" on joining the member server to the domain. That seems to have worked fine. In Server Manager/Local Server for this member server, it now shows the Domain to by "" instead of the WORKGROUP it had orginally been part of. I did reboot the server. </p><p><br></p><p>The question I have is, when I go into the primary DC (Server Manager/All Servers) I still only see the primary DC. I thought I would now also see the new domain member added into this screen. Should it be there? Or what is the best way to verfiy that everything is joined properly?</p><p><br></p><p>Thanks….</p><p><br></p><p>Mike</p>

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IT consultant, Contributing Editor @PetriFeed, and trainer @Pluralsight. All about Microsoft, Office 365, Azure, and Windows Server.