Install and Promote a Server as a Domain Controller


In a networked environment, a Domain Controller (DC) plays a crucial role in managing user accounts, security policies, and directory services. By installing and promoting a server as a Domain Controller, you can centralize user authentication, streamline resource management, and enhance network security. In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through the process of installing and promoting a server as a Domain Controller

Step 1: Plan Your Domain Controller Deployment

Before diving into the installation process, it’s essential to plan your Domain Controller deployment. Consider the following factors:

  1. Determine the Domain Name: Choose a unique domain name that reflects your organization’s identity and aligns with your org strategy. Opt for a domain name that is concise, memorable, and includes relevant keywords.
  2. Network Requirements: Assess your network infrastructure to ensure it meets the prerequisites for installing a Domain Controller. Ensure a stable internet connection, proper network segmentation, and appropriate IP addressing.
  3. Hardware and Software Requirements: Verify that the server hardware meets the recommended specifications for hosting a Domain Controller. Ensure that you have a compatible operating system, such as Windows Server, which supports Active Directory (AD) services.

Step 2: Install Windows Server Operating System

To install Windows Server as your Domain Controller, follow these steps:

  1. Obtain the Installation Media: Acquire the latest version of Windows Server installation media from the official Microsoft website or an authorized distributor.
  2. Boot from the Installation Media: Insert the installation media into your server’s DVD drive or use a bootable USB drive. Restart the server and configure the BIOS to boot from the installation media.
  3. Install Windows Server: Follow the on-screen instructions to install Windows Server. Choose the appropriate edition and provide the necessary information during the installation process.

Install and Promote a Server as a Domain Controller


Step 3: Configure Network Settings

Once the operating system installation is complete, configure the network settings as follows:

  1. Assign a Static IP Address: Access the Network and Sharing Center, navigate to the network adapter settings, and assign a static IP address to your server. Ensure that the IP address falls within the correct IP range for your network.Install and Promote a Server as a Domain Controller
  2. Set DNS Configuration: Configure the Domain Name System (DNS) settings by specifying the DNS server’s IP address, which can be the server itself or another DNS server in your network.

Step 4: Promote the Server as a Domain Controller

To promote the server as a Domain Controller, perform the following steps:

  1. Open Server Manager: Launch the Server Manager application on your Windows Server.
  2. Add Roles and Features: From the Server Manager dashboard, click on “Add Roles and Features” to initiate the installation wizard.
  3. Select Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS): In the installation wizard, choose “Role-based or feature-based installation” and select your server from the server pool. Then, select “Active Directory Domain Services” as the role to be installed.
  4. Install Required Features: Review the features required for AD DS and proceed with the installation. The wizard will prompt you to install additional features necessary for the Domain Controller functionality.
  5. Configure Domain Controller Options: After the installation, click on “Promote this server to a domain controller” in the Server Manager. Select “Add a new forest” if you are creating a new domain or “Add a domain controller to an existing domain” if you are joining an existing domain.
  6. Specify Forest and Domain Settings: Provide the forest and domain names. Set the domain functional level and specify the location for the AD DS database, log files, and SYSVOL folder.
  7. Set Directory Services Restore Mode (DSRM) Password: Define a strong password for the Directory Services Restore Mode (DSRM), which allows you to recover the Domain Controller in case of failures.
  8. Review and Complete the Wizard: Review the summary of your selections and click “Install” to begin the promotion process. The server will restart automatically after the promotion is complete.

Step 5: Validate and Test the Domain Controller

After promoting the server as a Domain Controller, it is crucial to validate and test its functionality:

  1. Verify Domain Controller Replication: Use Active Directory administrative tools, such as Active Directory Users and Computers, to verify the replication status across domain controllers.
  2. Test User Authentication: Create test user accounts and ensure they can successfully authenticate against the newly promoted Domain Controller.
  3. Check DNS Configuration: Confirm that DNS resolution is working correctly by accessing network resources using fully qualified domain names (FQDNs).


By following this step-by-step guide, you can successfully install and promote a server as a Domain Controller, thereby centralizing user management, enhancing network security, and improving resource management.

Ashutosh Dixit

I am currently working as a Senior Technical Support Engineer with VMware Premier Services for Telco. Before this, I worked as a Technical Lead with Microsoft Enterprise Platform Support for Production and Premier Support. I am an expert in High-Availability, Deployments, and VMware Core technology along with Tanzu and Horizon.

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