So, you want to learn how to join your Windows 10 PC to a domain?
Great! You’ve come to the right place then.
First, let’s start off with some definition.
What’s a domain?
A domain is a kind of network that allows you to login to your user from any computer on the network. The network has to contain at least one computer running Windows Server and the rest of them running Pro or Enterprise Windows versions. This can be very useful in many cases:
- A small office with no fixed computer for each employee.
- Even if they have fixed computers, you can watch their work and give different permissions to each of them from your server.
- A big company with a number of computer less than number of employees.
- Universities and schools.
So, you can simply sit on any computer, login with your username and password, submit your work and logout again.
And now, all you need to join the domain is:
- The domain name
- A username
- A password
- The server’s IP (That’s to make the connection more reliable)
Your domain administrator is the one responsible of creating a user on the server computer and give you all the previous information.
We’ll begin by setting the server’s IP as your Primary DNS. Follow us:
- Open Control Panel and search for Network and Sharing Center.
- Click on the Connection you’re working on (Ethernet or the WIFI name).
- Click on Properties.
- Select Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IP4) and click Properties.
- Select Use the following DNS server addresses and enter the server IP you got as your Preferred DNS server and then click OK.
Got all that you need? Let’s join the domain then.
How to join a domain?
- Open Settings from your start menu.
- Select System.
- Select About from the left pane and click Join a domain.
- Enter the domain name you’ve got from your domain administrator and click Next.
- Enter the Username and Password you were provided and then click Ok.
- Select your user type: Administrator or Standard user (it’s standard user by default, if you don’t know what to pick just leave it as it is).
- Restart your computer now or later, it’s up to you, but it won’t take effect until you perform a restart.
- The first thing you’ll notice once your restart is complete is that your lock screen will look a little different. Enter your domain user’s password.
- In some cases, you’ll be asked to change your password immediately, it’s a feature your server administrator might have set. Otherwise, you may ask your server administrator to change your password when you need to.
- You will have to be a little patient and wait while everything gets ready, it’s like you’re on a new computer, but every change you’ll make from now on will be saved to this domain user and accessible from any other computer on the domain using your credentials.
- Now you’re logged in, go to your Settings -> System -> About, you’ll see that your computer is registered on the domain now.
How to login back to your local computer account?
Now, if you want to reach your initial local files and programs stored on the computer away from the domain, here’s how you can do it:
- Boot your computer or sign out to your lock screen.
- Select Other user from the bottom-left corner.
- Enter your machine name followed by a backslash then your local user. Enter your local machine password if you had one and press Enter. Here, my computer name was Win10FAQ and the default user on it was Win10FAQ so the resultant is Win10FAQ\Win10FAQ. If yours is Desktop-xxxxxx and your user is Joe for example so you’ll enter Desktop-xxxxxx\Joe
How to disconnect your computer from the domain?
- Sign-in with your local account using the previous steps.
- Go to your Settings -> System -> About and select Disconnect from organization.
- Select Continue.
- Restart now or later but you won’t be able to fully leave the domain until you perform a restart.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you join a domain with Windows 10 Home Edition or not?
Sadly, no, Windows 10 Home Edition doesn’t allow you to join a domain, and its networking functions are severely limited. If you want to join a domain, you’ll have to upgrade to the Pro Edition or to one of the several Enterprise Editions out there.
Can an unactivated version of Windows join a domain?
Unoffiically, you can add an unactivated version of Windows to a domain. However, it’s something that Microsoft advises against, as it can possibly put the domain at risk. If you do want to add a non-activated machine to a domain, you should do so when the evaluation period has not expired yet.
How do I join a domain in Windows 10 using CMD (Command Prompt)?
Assuming you’re on a Windows 10 workgroup computer that can access an existing domain controller, you must perform the following actions:
1. Open up cmd.exe as administrator.
2. Run netdom join providing the following parameters.
Netdom requires a computer name right after the join parameter. If you’re using this command on other computers, replace the value with the variable %computername% to always represent the local computer.
It should look like this: netdom.exe join %computername% /domain:DomainName /UserD:DomainName\UserName /PasswordD:Password
3. Now restart the computer and the computer will be joined to the domain.
How do I join an offline domain?
This is a little more complicated than anyone would like to admit. Fortunately, Microsoft has been kind enough to create a page dedicated to this topic entirely. Click here to see it.
Final Thoughts and Conclusion
Joining a domain in Windows 10 and 11 isn’t at all difficult. With this guide, you should be able to join any domain of your choice as long as you have the latest version of either Windows 10 or Windows 11.
Hopefully, this article was able to help you join your Windows 10 or 11 PC to a domain! If you know of another way, please do share them with us in the comments below.