How to add the Active Directory Domain Services role

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In this Tutorial we are going over the process to add the Active Directory Domain Services role on a Windows Server 2012 R2. This procedure will be the same for several other Active Directory domain tasks, just to name a few: creating a new forest, adding a domain to an existent forest, adding an additional domain controller or creating a new sub domain.

The entire process here will prepare the local server to support a new domain controller however it will not add any information to an existent Active Directory. This article is the basis for any future articles here at covering addition of domain controllers.


Before installing a new domain controller there are a couple of key points that you should check to be on the safe side, here are a few that can help you out during the validation process, as follows:

  • Document the current environment to plan the changes
  • Get to known the current design before adding a Domain Controller to your environment
  • DNS is key for Active Directory, make sure that this component is healthy and the new server has the right DNS information to find the existent Domain Controllers (in case of an additional server/domain)
  • If that is not your first Domain Controller, make sure that you have a backup of Active Directory (using a backup agent for Active Directory or at least a supported and already tested backup/restore on your environment)
  • Make sure that you run Windows Updates and have all patches in place before promoting this new server to a Domain Controller
  • If you are adding this new server as an additional server, make sure that the Active Directory replication is healthy before starting the process
  • Date and Time are crucial for Active Directory, so make sure that you use a reliable time source and all existent or new servers are using the same information
  • To add a new Domain Controller you don’t have to join the machine into the domain. You can save time going straight from a member server to a Domain Controller without joining the machine into the existent domain (applicable for additional Domain Controllers)

Now that we covered the basics and some key points, we can start with the process. Logged as administrator of the local server, open Server Manager, and click on Manage and then Add Roles and Features


In the Before You Begin page. Like any other role on Windows Server 2012 R2, the first page of the wizard is a welcome page, just hit Next.


In the Installation Type page. Select Role-based or feature-based installation and click  Next.


In the Select Destination Server page. Select the current server and click Next.

Note: You can perform this procedure remotely using new features of Windows Server 2012 R2 but to keep it simple we will perform all tasks on the local server.


In the Server Roles page. Select Active Directory Domain Services and a new page asking to add some features will be displayed (shown in the second figure below), click on Add Features on that new window, and when you come back to the original wizard, then hit Next.



In the Features page. Just click Next.


In the Active Directory Domain Services page. A summary of the Domain Services will be displayed, just click Next.


In the Confirmation page. A summary of all options that we have chosen so far will be listed, click on Install to start the installation process.


In the Results page. We can see the entire process, but we can also click on Close at anytime and when the process is complete we will see a visual notification on the Server Manager.



In this Tutorial we went over the process to install the Domain Services role on top of Windows Server 2012 R2.

Written by Anderson Patricio

Anderson Patricio

Anderson Patricio is a Canadian MVP in Cloud and Datacenter Management, and Office Server and Services, besides the Microsoft Award he also holds a Solutions Master (MCSM) in Exchange and several other certifications. Anderson has been contributing to the Microsoft Community with articles, tutorials, blog posts, twitter, forums and book reviews. He is a regular contributor here at,, and Anderson (Portuguese).

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