Guest blogger D. J. Moore writes:

Adding a computer to a domain can seem like a daunting task at first if you are new to the procedure. Take it from someone who didn’t know a domain controller from a database server a few years ago! No matter how daunting it may seem now, it’s actually quite simple in the end. There are just a few things you need to know before we go about adding a computer to a domain.

A domain is a subnetwork made up of a group of clients and servers under the control of one central security database on a LAN (Local Area Network). Most domains are linked to the Internet, but this is not necessary. Not all domains have to be public, registered domains, either.

Domain Controller
A domain controller is a server that handles authentication and authorization throughout a domain via a database of users. The most common domain controller in the business world is Windows Server that uses Active Directory (Domain Services). Active Directory uses the Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) to access and maintain distributed directory information across a network.

A client can be a number of different things. Most typically it is another computer. For the purpose of this article, our client is a Dell system unit running Windows 7 Professional. Anything below the level of Windows 7 Professional does not have the capability to join a domain, only workgroups (Home Groups).

The 10 Step Process for Joining a Domain

Step One

Starting at the desktop, click the Start button. Find Computer and right-click the menu item. A submenu will appear, and you will select Properties, as displayed in the picture.

Adding a Computer to a Domain

Step Two

The System Properties window will appear. Under the Computer Name, Domain, and Workgroup settings. you will see a shield icon with Change Settings. Click this text link.

Adding a Computer to a Domain

Step Three

The System Properties dialog box will appear. Under the Computer Name, tab click the Change… button.

Adding a Computer to a Domain

Step Four

A Computer Name/Domain Changes dialog box will appear. Under the Member of section, select the Domain radio button. Input your domain into the field. Your domain name will be supplied by your supervisor or network administrator.

Adding a Computer to a Domain

Important! Before adding a system to the domain, make sure there is no other system with that same name.

Adding a Computer to a Domain

Step Five

Another dialog box will appear immediately, prompting you to log in using your domain/network credentials. Input your username and password and click the OK button.

Step Six

If you managed to input all your credentials correctly, and you achieve connectivity to the domain controller, you will be welcomed to the xxxxxxxxxx domain.

Step Seven

You will be prompted to restart your system. Click the OK button.

Adding a Computer to a Domain

Adding a Computer to a Domain

Adding a Computer to a Domain

Step Eight

You will be prompted again to restart the computer from the System Properties dialog box near the bottom of the box with Changes will take effect after you restart this computer. Click the Close button.

Step Nine

You will at last be prompted to restart your system again after closing the prior dialog box. Click the Restart Now button to complete the process.

Adding a Computer to a Domain

Step Ten

After restarting, you will be welcomed back to Windows with the user logon screen. You will notice that the default login account is a local machine account “MachineName\Username”. Just below the password field, click the “Switch User” button. At the next screen click the “Other User” button (presumably with no display picture). This will automatically put you on the domain. Just sign in with your normal domain credentials beyond this point.

Note: To log back in to the machine account, type in .\Username (Where username is the name of your local account, such as the default Administrator: .\Administrator). Input your password and log in to a local off-domain account.