Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS) in Windows Server 2016

In this article, I will explain how to install Active Directory Domain Service (AD DS) role and promote it to a Domain Controller. Active Directory Domain Services stores the information about all the objects on the network such as users, computers and other network devices ( printers, fax machines etc. ) on the network. It helps the administrators to securely manage this information and facilitates resource sharing and collaboration between the users. Before I talk about Active Directory Domain Services, I want you to understand about Domain Controller (DC).

Domain Controller (DC)

A Domain Controller (DC) allows us to create logical containers. These container consist of the users, computers and the groups. These Domain Controllers also allow us to organize and manage the Servers.

[Important Note- You should have more than one Domain Controller]

Because if one of your Servers goes down, the other one provides redundancy and can take up the slack for it. Multiple Domain Controllers also allows us to have load balancing on the network, so it’s always better to have more than one Domain Controller (DC).

AD DS (Active Directory Domain Services)

Active Directory is a Service, which runs on your Domain Controller (DC). We use this Service to create logical containers, as mentioned above. Active Directory Performance is affected directly by the Server hardware, so the better your Server hardware, the more efficient your Active Directory Service will work.

Install Active Directory Domain Services Role

You can follow the steps given below to install Active Directory Domain Service Role and promote it to a Domain Controller.

Step 1

Go to Server Manager. Click Add Roles and Features.

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Step 2

It will open Add Roles and Features wizard.

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You can select the Installation Type here (I’m selecting Role Based Installation).

Step 3

After selecting the type of installation, you should select the Server from the Server pool.

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Step 4

Once you select the Server and click Next, it will display the list of Server Roles, where you can find Active Directory Domain Services. Click Checkbook to select Active Directory Domain Services. As soon as you select Active Directory Domain Services, you will see a small Window pop up. Just click Add Features. It will add all the required tools for the administration. Click Next, followed by clicking Next again ( I’m not adding any additional features right now).

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Step 5

Once you click Next in the step given above, you will see description about Active Directory Domain Services —> Click Next.

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Step 6

On Confirmation step, click Install.

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Step 7

Once you click Install button, the installation process begins and you can see the progress.

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Promote Active Directory Service Role to Domain Controller

After installing AD DS Role, AD DS installation wizard automatically comes up. You can just click Promote this Server to a Domain Dontroller.


Go to Server Manager Dashboard. You will notice Yellow warning sign on the right hand side. Click it and It will display Post-deployment configuration box. Click Promote this Server to a Domain Controller.

Step 8

Promote to a Domain Controller (DC)

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Step 9

Once you click Promote this Server to a Domain Controller in the step given above, it opens up Active Directory Domain Services Configuration Wizard. You have three options given below.

  1. Add a Domain Controller to an existing domain.
  2. Add a new domain to an existing forest.
  3. Add a new forest.

I am selecting Add a new forest and my root domain name. Click Next.

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Step 10

You need to enter the Directory Services Restore Mode (DSRM) password.

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Step 11

I just Ignore the warning message because it's basically asking for an internet connection; something that you don’t have in my virtual environment. Click Next.

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Step 12

I am not touching the NetBIOS domain name. Just click Next.

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Step 13

On Paths screen, click Next.

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Step 14

Review everything. If everything looks good, click Next.

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Step 15

All the prerequisite checks need to be validated before AD DS is installed, if all the checks pass successfully. Click Install.

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Step 16

Once this AD DS is installed, your computer will be restarted.

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Step 17

Login back with the DSRM (Domain Services Restore Mode) password.

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Step 18


Once AD DS Role is successfully promoted to a Domain Controller, the installation process completes. You can verify this from Server Manger—> Under Dashboard—> Find AD DS


Go to Tools —> Click DNS

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Step 19

It will open up DNS Manager —> Navigate to my Server (Ind-dns1) —> Expand Foraward Lookup Zones —> I find my Domain up and running.

That’s it. You have successfully learned how to install Active Directory Domain Services Role and add a Domain Controller. Configure a Server to add a domain.

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