Joining a Windows Client or Server to a Domain

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After setting up a Samba Active Directory (AD) or an Samba NT4 domain, you have to join machines to the domain. Only machines joined to the domain are enabled to use domain resources. During the join, a machine account is created in the domain to authenticate the computer as a member.

In case, you are joining a Windows Server as a domain controller (DC) to an AD, see:

Use this documentation for joining a Windows client or server operating system to a Samba AD or Samba NT4 domain as a domain member.

System Requirements

Supported Windows Versions

To join a domain, the Windows edition requires the corresponding capabilities. You can join the following Windows operating systems as a domain member:

Workstation editions:

  • Windows 10: Pro, Enterprise, and Education
  • Windows 8 and 8.1: Pro and Enterprise
  • Windows 7: Professional, Ultimate, and Enterprise
  • Windows Vista: Business, Ultimate, and Enterprise
  • Windows XP: Professional
  • Windows 2000: Professional
  • Windows NT4 (only NT4 domain support)

Server (all editions):

  • Windows Server 2019
  • Windows Server 2016
  • Windows Server 2012 and 2012R2
  • Windows Server 2008 and 2008R2
  • Windows Server 2003 and 2003R2
  • Windows Server 2000


To join a machine to a domain you require:

  • local administrator permissions on the computer you want to join
  • credentials of a domain account that is enabled to join machines to the domain. For example:
Note, that in an AD authenticated user accounts are enabled to join up to 10 machines to the domain, if the administrator has not disabled the feature. See

Required Settings for NT4 Domains

If you are joining the host to a Samba NT4 domain, some Windows operating systems require modifications. See Required Settings for Samba NT4 domain.

DNS Settings (AD only)

In an Active Directory (AD), a working DNS configuration is indispensable. AD uses DNS to locate domain controllers (DC), resolve host names, and for many other tasks. Ensure that the client has at least one DNS server configured, that is able to resolve the AD DNS zone. For further information, see DNS Configuration on Windows Hosts.

Date and Time Settings (AD only)

Active Directory uses Kerberos for authentication. Kerberos requires that the domain member and the domain controllers (DC) are having a synchronous time. If the difference exceeds 5 minutes (default), the client is not able to access domain resources for security reasons.

Before you join the domain, check the time configuration:

  • Open the Control Panel.
  • Navigate to Clock, Language and Region.
  • Click Date and Time.
  • Verify the date, time, and time zone settings. Adjust the settings, if necessary.
  • Click OK to save the changes.

Joining a Windows Client or Server to a Domain

  • Open the Control Panel.
  • Navigate to System and Security / System.
  • Click Change settings, next to the computer name.
  • On the Computer Name tab, click the Change button.
  • Verify the computer name. If you rename the computer, reboot before joining the domain.
  • Select Domain, enter the name of your domain, and click OK.
Join Enter Domain Name.png
Active Directory (AD) only: You can enter the NetBIOS name of the domain, if your client is able to resolve it. For example: samdom instead of
  • Enter the credentials of an account that is able to join a computer to the domain. For example, the domain administrator account. Click OK to continue.
  • Reboot the computer after the computer successfully joined the domain.