Install Active Directory

How to Install Active Directory on Windows Server 2012 R2

There may be cases when you need to install Active Directory in your home lab. As an example, I can specify the installation of VMware vRealize Automation, for which you require a domain. In this article I will show how to install Active Directory on Windows Server 2012 R2. I chose Windows Server 2012 R2 over the newest Windows Server 2016 because in my experience 2016 requires more hardware resources compared with 2012, hardware resources which are scarce in a lab environment.

As a prerequisite for this installation, you need to prepare in advance a Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard Edition virtual machine preferable with all the normal goodies (latest hardware version, latest VMware Tools, vmxnet3 network adapter, paravirtual SCSI adapter). Install the latest security patches. You do not need the installation kit for Windows Server 2012 R2.

Install Active Directory

Connect to the target server and start Server Manager. Wait for the dashboard to load, then click on “Add roles and features”.

Install Active Directory - Add Roles and Features

“Add Roles and Features Wizard” starts. Click “Next” to go ahead with configuration.

Install Active Directory - Add Roles and Features Wizard

For “Installation type”, keep the default “Role-based or feature-based installation” selected and click “Next”.

Install Active Directory - Select Installation Type

“Select destination server” will default to the local server (in my case “dc”). Keep it selected and click “Next”

Install Active Directory - Select Destination Server

For “Select server roles” click on the check box next to “Active Directory Domain Services”.

Install Active Directory - Select Server Roles

A pop-up window will appear immediately. You can check which required features will be automatically installed. Keep “Include management tools” selected and click “Add Features”.

Install Active Directory - Add Features

Unless you want to install other features at the same time keep the default selection and  click “Next”.

Install Active Directory - Features

Review the information about “Active Directory Domain Services” and click “Next”.

Install Active Directory - Active Directory Domain Services

Review the configuration and click “Install”.

Install Active Directory - Confirm Installation Selection

The installation of Active Directory Domain Services starts quickly. Don’t close the wizard.

Install Active Directory - Installation Progress

Configure Active Directory

The installation completes in few short minutes. To configure Active Directory, click on “Promote this server to a domain controller”.

Install Active Directory - Installation Complete

Click on “Add a new forest” option. For “Root domain name” specify your domain ( in my case). Click “Next”.

Install Active Directory - Deployment Configuration

Select forest and domain functional levels (I recommend to keep defaults unless you have a specific requirement). Enter twice the password for “Directory Services Restore Mode. Click “Next”.

Install Active Directory - Domain Controller Options

On “DNS Options” step you will receive a warning. Review it and then click “Next”.

Install Active Directory - DNS Options

This tab will take few seconds to load. Check it the NetBIOS domain name is correct, if not change it to the required one. When satisfied, click “Next”.

Install Active Directory - Additional Options

Here you can change the location for different service components (database, log files and SYSVOL). Click “Next”.

Install Active Directory - Paths

Review the configuration options and click “Next”.

Install Active Directory - Review Options

The wizard runs a short prerequisite check. If you receive the clean green check mark, click “Install”.

Install Active Directory - Prerequisites Check

Wizard configures now the server to host Active Directory Domain Services.

Install Active Directory - Installation

When configuration is completed, you will receive a warning about an imminent computer reboot.

Install Active Directory - Reboot

After the new domain controller starts, you can run “Active Directory Users and Computers” tool to connect to your newly created Active Directory.

Install Active Directory - Active Directory Users and Computers

Happy domain managing 🙂

Constantin Ghioc

I usually play with vSphere API, Ansible, vRealize Automation, vRealize Orchestrator, and different AWS tools. In my other life I’m a husband and a father, an amateur photographer and a Go enthusiast.

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