How-To Geek

IT: How to Install Active Directory On Windows Server 2008 R2


Active Directory is essential to any Microsoft network built on the client-server network model–it allows you to have a central sever called a Domain Controller (DC) that does authentication for your entire network. Instead of people logging on to the local machines they authenticate against your DC. Lets take a look at how to install Microsoft’s Active Directory.


Open Server Manager and click on roles, this will bring up the Roles Summary on the right hand side where you can click on the Add Roles link.


This will bring up the Add Roles Wizard where you can click on next to see a list of available Roles. Select Active Directory Domain Services from the list, you will be told that you need to add some features, click on the Add Required Features button and click next to move on.


A brief introduction to Active Directory will be displayed as well as a few links to additional resources, you can just click next to skip past here and click install to start installing the binaries for Active Directory.


When the installation is finished you will be shown a success message, just click close.



Open up Server Manager, expand Roles and click on Active Directory Domain Services. On the right hand side click on the Run the Active Directory Domain Services Installation Wizard (dcpromo.exe) link.


This will kick off another wizard, this time to configure the settings for you domain, click next to continue.


The message that is shown now relates to older clients that do not support the new cryptographic algorithms supported by Server 2008 R2, these are used by default in Server 2008 R2, click next to move on.


Choose to create a new domain in a new forest.


Now you can name your domain, we will be using a .local domain the reason why will be explained in an upcoming article.


Since this is the first DC in our domain we can change our forest functional level to Server 2008 R2.


We want to include DNS in our installation as this will allow us to have an AD Integrated DNS Zone, when you click next you will be prompted with a message just click yes to continue.


You will need to choose a place to store log files, it is a best practice to store the database and SYSVOL folder on one drive and the log files on a separate drive, but since this is in a lab environment I will just leave them all on the same drive.


Choose a STRONG Active Directory Restore Mode Password and click next twice to kick off the configuration.


You will be able to see what components are being installed by looking in the following box.


When its done you will be notified and required to reboot your PC.


That’s all  there is to it guys, now you have a working installation of Active Directory.

Taylor Gibb is a Microsoft MVP and all round geek, he loves everything from Windows 8 to Windows Server 2012 and even C# and PowerShell. You can also follow him on Google+

  • Published 12/12/11

Comments (15)

  1. Ashish Jain

    Nice info…
    A basic question….
    What is the difference between Roles and Features.

  2. jim


    While there is some overlap between these two, in general, you can think of Roles as major functions of the server and Features as smaller add-on packages. Whether it is a role or a feature, these are all Microsoft Windows 2008 add-ons, not 3rd party applications.

  3. Josh

    Great article. I would really love to see an article further explaining where to go from here. Specifically, how to configure users, OU’s, and setting group policy.

  4. Taylor Gibb

    @Ashish what @jim said is exactly the answer i would of given you, Roles define the servers PRIMARY function, Features add functionality to a Server. You must remember that the architecture in Server products has become very modular, Features provides a way to install thing that may be needed but do not warrant being called a Role. Also a Role may require one or more Features to be installed.

  5. Shogo71

    It’s great tutorial to start out with for beginners.
    When will you have one for Exchange?

  6. Taylor Gibb

    @Shogo71 i will be working on both Exchange and Sharepoint articles in the near future, expect them sometime in January

  7. Lee

    I setup a server using an older computer and Windows Server 2008 (from DreamSpark) but I can’t activate for some reason. Plus, after setting it up, I don’t really see the need for a server in my house, so it’d just be another computer on and using energy..

  8. Robert

    You for got to tell them that yo need a static IP Address set up first before you install Active Directory, and to point do a DNS server,

  9. dima

    I have a question. Do I need to install DNS Server? I’m using a router with DD-WRT firmware and I have set up a static IP address for my server.

  10. Taylor Gibb

    @Robert thanks for pointing that out, it is recommended that you do indeed have a static IP address set, when it comes to DNS however, since we are installing it along side AD to get an integrated zone i simply used the “” loop-back address. You could also just fill in the IP address of the server, its just easier to use a loop-back address this way if you ever change the IP of the server it will still be looking to itself for DNS.

    @dima you can run DNS on DD-WRT Router, however having run on a box will give you more flexibility, with that said it sounds like you running this at home, you probably wont need the extra functionality that you will get anyway. hope that answers your question :)

  11. Robert P

    @dima you will need writable access to a DNS server as Active Directory relies on DNS heavily. I would really recommend not running your Active Directory Domain off a router’s DNS. The memory footprint for a DNS server is tiny anyway. Actually i’m not even sure if you can run Active Directory with a router’s DNS service, i have never tried it to be honest. Although i highly doubt that Active Directory would work with a router’s DNS service.

    @Robert you are correct, a static IP is best to be set before running the process but as far as i am aware it is not 100% needed for the process to complete. (You can always set the static IP + DNS later). But i would highly recommend setting a static IP for an Active Directory/DNS server.

  12. Taylor Gibb

    @Robert P it will work, you will just not get the benefit of dynamic updates to your DNS Zone, this would be the same as if you installed AD with say a Linux DNS Server

  13. Ashish Jain

    Thanks Jim and Taylor

  14. Mike

    Is this any different from starting installation using dcpromo

  15. keltari

    @Mike – dcpromo starts that wizard

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