Installing Active Directory on Windows Server 2012

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Active Directory (AD) is Microsoft’s implementation of directory service for Windows domain network. It uses Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) version 2 and 3, Microsoft’s version of Kerberos, and DNS.

Active Directory is used on Windows Server. Usually a dedicated server for Active Directory is referred as Domain Controller. A Domain Controller authenticates and authorizes all users and computers in a Windows domain type network. It also assign and enforce security policies for all computers and installing or updating software.

In a network, there should be only one Active Directory Domain Controller. Or, at least there is one master and only two slave Domain Controller at maximum for load balancing.

Like any service on Windows Server 2012, Active Directory Domain Service (AD DS) is implemented as server role. This article will discuss about how to install Active Directory in Windows Server 2012.


Open “Server Manager” from task bar, if you have not opened it yet.

From “Server Manager” Dashboard, select “Add roles and features”. This will launch the Roles and Features Wizard allowing for modifications to be performed on the Windows Server 2012 instance.


Select “Role based or features-based” installation from the Installation Type. Roles are the major feature sets of the server, such as IIS. Features provide additional functionality for given role.


When asked for destination server, select the current server. It should be chosen by default. Click “Next” button to proceed.


From the Server Roles, choose the option “Active Directory Domain Services” by checking it. A notice will appear explaining additional roles services or feature are also required to install domain services.


There are other options including, Certificate services, federation services, lightweight directory services and rights management. Domain Services is the glue that holds this all together and needs to be installed prior to these other services.

Now we will be brought to “Features” page. Review and select optional features to install during installation of Active Directory. You can check any features but we will leave it as is.

Review the information. Click Next.


Review the installation. This page will show you information about what will be installed. When ready, press “install” button.


Installation will take on. It should not be long, but that will depend on your machine. In installation process, a progress bar will be displayed on the screen. Once Active Directory role is installer, it will be displayed on the ‘Server Manager’ landing page.



Once Active Directory Domain Service is installed on the server, we can start configuring our domain. I will assume that this is your first time configuring.

Open the “Server Manager”, if you have not opened it yet.

Open the Notification Pane by selecting the notification icon from the top of the Server Manager. It looks like a flag, and should have an exclamation mark on it. From the notification regarding configuring Active Directory, click “Promote this server to a domain controller”.


From the Deployment Configuration tab select “Add a new forest” from the radial options menu. Insert your root domain name into the “Root domain name” field. For example, I will use “”.


Review and “select a Domain and Forest functional level”. Once selected “fill in a DSRM password” in the provided password fields. The DSRM password is used when booting the Domain Controller into recovery mode.


We will be presented by a warning. Review the warning on the DNS Options tab and select Next. If you don’t have DNS server yet, this is the outcome, otherwise you are given option to add new DNS delegation. Either way, click Next after you have done.


Confirm or enter a NetBIOS name and click Next.


Configure the location of the SYSVOL, Log files, and Database folders. Click Next when done.


Review the configuration options and click Next.


The system will check to ensure all necessary prerequisites are installed. This would be done before moving moving forward to real configuration stage. Once the system passes the check, we will proceed by clicking “Install”.


Once the server is done, reboot. Now we have successfully installing and configuring an Active Directory Domain Services on Windows Server 2012.

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