What Is A Domain Controller?
A Domain Controller is found in a Windows Server domain. A DC is responsible for responding to requests for security authentication. Located in a Windows NT or Microsoft Windows network, the DC server is responsible for letting hosts access various domain resources in the Windows system.
When it comes to the Active Directory service offered by Windows, the Domain Controller is at the centre. Not only does it authenticate different users, but it also stores account info for these users and is responsible for enforcing the securities policies that have been established for a Windows domain.
WHAT IS PRIMARY DOMAIN CONTROLLER?
Primary domain controller (PDC) and backup domain controller (BDC) are roles that can be assigned to a server in a network of computers that use the Windows NT operating system. Windows NT uses the idea of a domain to manage access to a set of network resources (applications, printers, and so forth) for a group of users. The user need only to log in to the domain to gain access to the resources, which may be located on a number of different servers in the network. One server, known as the primary domain controller, manages the master user database for the domain. One or more other servers are designated as backup domain controllers. The primary domain controller periodically sends copies of the database to the backup domain controllers. A backup domain controller can step in as primary domain controller if the PDC server fails and can also help balance the workload if the network is busy enough.
In Windows NT, a domain combines some of the advantages of a workgroup (a group of users who exchange access to each others’ resources on different computers) and a directory (a group of users who are managed centrally by an administrator). The domain concept not only allows a user to have access to resources that may be on different servers, but it also allows one domain to be given access to another domain in a trust relationship. In this arrangement, the user need only log in to the first domain to also have access to the second domain’s resources as well.
In a Windows NT network, not all servers need to be a PDC or BDC. A server can be designated as a member server whose resources become part of a domain without having a role in the logon process.
How to setup a primary domain controller
As the domain controller is vital for the functioning of Active Directory, configuration should be done carefully to avoid any errors. Follow the steps below to make sure your domain controller is set up perfectly.
Before you begin, ensure you assign static IP address to your Domain Controller to help Active Directory objects locate the Domain Controller easily.
Step 1: Install Active Directory Domain Services (ADDS)
- Log into your Active Directory Server with administrative credentials.
- Open Server Manager → Roles Summary → Add roles and features
- The “Before you begin” screen, which pops up next, is purely for an informational purpose. You may read through it and click “next”.
- Select the installation type. If you’re going to deploy your DC in a virtual machine, choose Remote Desktop Services installation. Else, choose Role-based or Feature-based installation.
- Now, select the destination server on which the role will be installed. Make sure the IP address points to the selected server. Else, close the server manager and retry.
- Select the roles you want to install on this server. The basic requirements to promote this server into a domain controller is Active Directory Domain Services.
- The basic features required for proper functioning of this role are selected by default. Click next to install them.
- Confirm your installation selections. It is recommended to select the “Restart the destination server automatically if required” button. Select “Install” and once installation is complete, close the window.
Step 2: Promote the server into a domain controller
- Once the ADDS role is installed in this server, you will see a notification flag next to the Manage menu. Select “Promote this server into a domain controller”
- Select “Add a new forest” and enter Root domain name. This domain name will also be the forest name.
- Select a forest functional level and a domain functional level of your choice. Ensure that the domain functional level is equal to or higher than the forest functional leave.
Since this is the first domain controller, it automatically becomes the DNS server and also the Global Catalog (GC).
Enter a unique Active Directory Restore Mode password used to retrieve Active Directory data.
- Since a DNS Server is being configured as part of our efforts, you’ll be warned that a delegation for this DNS server cannot be created. This can be safely ignored.
- Enter a NetBIOS name for your domain. It is preferable to match the NetBIOS name with the root domain name. For more information on NetBIOS name restrictions, see
- Select the folder where your database, log files, and SYSVOL will be stored. It is recommended to stick to the default settings.
- Review your options and click Next. A prerequisites check will be done by Active Directory. Once it is completed, click Install.
- Your system will be rebooted automatically for the changes to take effect. Verify the health of the domain controller by running the command dcdiag /v from the command line.
WHAT IS SECONDARY DOMAIN CONTROLLER?
A secondary domain controller will ensure that your users are able to access important domain resources and that business-critical systems and services keep running until everything goes back to normal.4 Dec 2020
Setup a Secondary Domain Controller
Not only will losing your DC mean a long rebuilding process ahead and the potential of lost data, but it also means interrupted operations and paying professionals overtime in hopes that you can get things up and running again quickly.
That means a smart business owner will invest in the addition of a second Domain Controller and they’ll also take the time to establish automatic backups so they don’t ever have to subject their team to a complete system rebuild. The backups should take place regularly being that, even in a single DC environment, they can save a business’ substantial time and capital.
When a primary or secondary Domain Controller fails, a recent backup can be used to restore one or both Domain Controllers quickly and with as little downtime and headache as possible. It’s important to emphasise that, without that backup, a business will find themselves in a difficult position.
It could take many days of overtime pay across multiple team members to restore things back to normal, and that’s why more and more companies are beginning to take the time and effort to establish backup protocols for their servers.
The reason why businesses should invest in both a secondary Domain Controller and backups is simple.
In addition to being able to restore a failed DC fast thanks to a reliable and recent backup, a secondary DC will be able to keep things running even when one has failed. This minimises downtime, maximises operations, and keeps restoration as quick and simple as possible.
In a two Domain Controller environment, the DCs should be set up so that they replicate one another and backup frequently. That’s the most sensible setup for any business’ systems, and it can make a huge difference in maintaining stable and efficient operations. So, the question is, how can it be done?
Benefits of Using a Domain Controller for Your Business IT
Data is flowing all the time through several applications to multiple staff devices. Trying to manage security on each device individually is not only time consuming, it can be fraught with issues.
Domain controllers take the guesswork and hassle out of managing computers and devices on your network by “plugging them in” to one master system. This allows your administrator to put in safeguards, permissions and other access protocols remotely on each device.
Here are a few of the reasons that you should consider connecting your network to a domain controller.
Give Access Only to Those that Need It
One employee’s computer goes down, so they’re borrowing an inactive one while waiting on the repair. But, how do you know what permissions that computer may have? It’s not unusual for computers to be shared from time to time but how can you make sure access rights to sensitive files are set up correctly?
The domain controller allows you to create settings whereby users can log onto any computer that’s on your domain and their security privileges will follow them and be set automatically to any computer.
Avoid “Operator Error” Data Breaches
Operator errors, like unsecure passwords, is one of the main causes of data breaches. A data controller allows you to avoid too simple passwords by creating network-wide rules that require users to create unique and complex passwords.
Centralized Management Lowers Costs
Having the ability to set login and security parameters for all devices from a central hub reduces the time and cost of having to secure and configure each device individually, which can take hours as compared to just minutes from a domain controller.
Shared Computer Resources
Because you can set access privileges that are login specific, that means anyone can use any computer. This can reduce the need to buy new computers as often and also allows workers on shifts to use the same computer resources, reducing costs.
Easily Manage Network Printers
When several staff are using the same shared network printer, who’s printing what when, can get confusing. Domain controllers allow you to centrally manage print jobs and direct all that print traffic. You have with the ability to pause, purge, or restart print jobs.
No more needing to connect printers individually. Domain controllers allow for automatic installation of network printers on computers as soon as they join your domain.
Shut Down Unauthorized Access
Here are some of the valuable security controls you have access to by using a domain controller:
- Lock out user accounts with too many failed login attempts.
- Disable user accounts immediately when an employee leaves your company.
- Automatically set all computers to lock screen after a set period of inactivity.
- Require login passwords for locked screens.
- Restrict USB (flash drive) access per user permissions.
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