If you are adding a new computer to a corporate environment, you will most likely need to join it to a domain. The procedure is fairly straightforward as the server does most of the work. The process is almost the same for Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows 10.
For Windows 10, there is an additional way to join a domain, which I will mention below. I will also mention a few troubleshooting tips if the domain join option is missing, you cannot join a domain, etc.
Connect your computer to the domain
To get started, click Start and then Control Panel. Now click on System and Security and then click on System. Finally, click on Advanced System Settings. If you are not in the category view in the Control Panel, you can simply click “System” directly.
Now go to the Computer Name tab and click the Change button at the bottom:
Now click the Domain radio button and enter the name of the domain to which you want to join this computer.
Please note that on my computer the domain and network ID buttons are grayed out! Why is that? Because I have Windows 7 Home Premium.
To join a domain on Windows 7/8/10, you need to upgrade to the Professional or Ultimate edition. A bit annoying, but what can you do! The professional version also gives you BitLocker and the ability to back up to your home or corporate network.
This is by far the easiest way, and it works on all versions of Windows, which is nice. In Windows 10, they keep changing settings, and some dialogs disappear and news appears.
Windows 10 domain join option
Windows 10 has a settings dialog and a control panel. Both overlap in many areas, and it’s a little confusing. If you click Start in Windows 10, click the Settings (gear icon) icon, then click Accounts, and the Access to work or school option appears in the left column.
On the right, you will see a plus button called “Connect”. Go ahead and click on it to open the Microsoft account dialog. We’re not trying to connect another account here, but at the bottom you will see options to join an on-premises Active Directory domain or an Azure Active domain.
For example, if you click on your local Active Directory domain, you will be prompted for a domain name. Obviously, you will need this and other information from your domain administrator.
You may see many other sites saying that you should go to Settings, then System, then About and click on the Join Domain button, but this seems to have been removed in newer versions of Windows 10 I even tried to enable the local Administrator account and the option still doesn’t appear. Now it really just gives you information about your computer and that’s it. You cannot join the domain from this screen.
Troubleshoot joining a domain
It would be great if everything worked out the first time, but this does not happen often. While joining a domain is usually a straightforward process, there are many problems you can run into. I won’t be able to cover everything here, but I will mention several popular problems and solutions in the post.
- Use a fully qualified domain name – if you enter a domain name and you receive error messages, you should try using a fully qualified domain name instead of a NetBIOS name.
- Check your DNS settings – if your computer does not properly handle DNS requests or cannot contact a DNS server, it will not be able to connect to the domain. Try NSLOOKUP from PC and server and check if entries are listed. Also check the client to make sure it is using the correct DNS server and not external DNS servers.
- Check your network settings. If all other settings are correct, the problem is most likely related to the blocking of the port on the computer. Make sure port 445 is open, and also make sure the network type on your computer is private.
- Temporarily disable IPv6 – sometimes Windows will use IPv6 when trying to join a domain and if you don’t have IPv6 configuration it won’t work. You can try disabling IPv6 on your network adapter and see if that works. You can always turn it back on after the computer is joined to the domain.
Hope your computer has been joined to the domain! If not, leave a comment here and I’ll try to help. Enjoy!