Domains, Domain Controllers, and Workstations

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Article ID: 101957 - View products that this article applies to.
This article was previously published under Q101957
This article discusses domains, domain controllers, and workstations in a Windows NT network.

Domain

A domain is a grouping of computers and users that eases administration of the computers and user accounts. Windows NT Advanced Server is required to create a domain. The Windows NT Advanced Servers (referred to as "servers") all share a common user account and security database, thus enabling each user to have a single account which is recognized on all servers in the domain. Security policies such as how long passwords remain valid are also held in common by all servers in a domain. Windows NT workstations can also be members of a domain; the benefit they derive is the ability to recognize user accounts that are created on the servers in the domain. Security policies on a workstation are always independent of the domain security policies, however.

Domain Controller

There is no single database that is shared by all servers in the domain; there is a single computer called the domain controller which "owns" the master copy of the user account and security database. This master copy is then replicated (copied) to all other servers in the domain. When the domain controller is unavailable, no changes can be made to the domain's user account security database. If necessary, any server may be promoted to be the domain controller at any time. This should not be done casually because the server may not have the most recent changes that have been made on the former domain controller. If the domain controller is active when you promote another server to be domain controller, there is less risk of losing changes because the promoted server is first brought up-to-date with the current domain controller before taking over its role. Use Server Manager to choose the domain controller.

LAN Manager has "backup domain controllers." These computers are particularly suited to being promoted to domain controllers because they store the domain database. Whereas LAN Manager also has a "member server" classification which does not have the domain database stored locally, Windows NT Advanced Servers all have local copies of the domain database. Therefore, all Windows NT Advanced Servers are equally well suited to being promoted to domain controllers, so they are simply referred to as "servers." The domain controller of a Windows NT domain must be a Windows NT Advanced Server. Other servers in the domain may be LAN Manager servers.

Workstations in Domains

Windows NT workstations can also be members of a domain. They always retain their own local user account and security database. However, they gain the ability to recognize the domain accounts. That is, users can log on to domain accounts at the workstation, they can remotely access the workstation using a domain account, and domain accounts can be listed as being granted permissions on files, directories, and so on.

Domains vs. Workgroups

A domain also functions as a workgroup. A workgroup enables easier browsing for network resources by visually grouping computers under a workgroup name. A domain not only delivers the security benefits listed above, but also has the network browsing benefit of workgroups, and from that standpoint is indistinguishable from workgroups in the network browsing user interface.

Adding Computers to Domains

Only Windows NT workstations, Windows NT Advanced Servers, and OS/2 LAN Manager servers can be added to a Windows NT domain. A domain is created by running Setup of a Windows NT Advanced Server and indicating the role to be domain controller along with a unique domain name.

To Add a Windows NT Advanced Server to a Windows NT Domain

Run the Setup program for the Windows NT Advanced Server computer and choose the server role, entering the domain name and domain administrator user name and password when prompted.

Note: You can add the server to the domain in Server Manager first to avoid having to enter a domain administrator user name and password.

To Add a Windows NT Workstation to a Windows NT Domain

During setup of the Window NT workstation, choose to add the computer to the domain, supplying the domain administrator user name and password.
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Choose the Add To Domain option in Server Manager and add the workstation. Then set up the workstation and enter the domain name when prompted. (If it is already set up, you can join the domain in the Network section of Control Panel).

To Add an OS/2 LAN Manager Server to a Windows NT Domain

Follow the methods specified for adding servers to domains in the LAN Manager documentation. (This involves creating a user account for the server and adding it to the Server group, and so on. User Manager may be used for this purpose.)
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Article ID: 101957 - Last Review: November 1, 2006 - Revision: 2.1
APPLIES TO
  • Microsoft Windows NT Advanced Server 3.1
  • Microsoft Windows NT Workstation 3.1
  • Microsoft Windows NT Advanced Server 3.1
Keywords: 
kbnetwork KB101957

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