Domain Controllers: What You Should Know

Domains are an important part of the information and access controls needed for a business.  It is a way of grouping user and computer accounts so that they can be managed from a central location.  By grouping user and computer accounts into one central , easier administration and freedom for users to log into the network from any computer connected to the network.  So how does this differ from local user accounts?

A local user account is a tool that will regulate access to a local PC.  It’s primary function is to enable administrators to perform maintenance on workstations.  On a smaller network, user account passwords are acceptable security mechanisms, but if each PC on a large network has it’s own password, the administrator would be required to change the permissions needed for an account.  If the user’s computer crashes on a local network, they will be unable to finish whatever they were working on, and will have to wait until their PC is back up and running.  Hence, the need for a system that could handle multiple users and authentications from a central location, the domain controller.

Basically, the domain controller consists of a server, with it’s own domain, which controls security requests coming from other computers and servers, in that domain.  Included in the security requests that are handled by the domain server are requests to log into another server, and also verifying permission for needed functions (access for a file folder or file modification).

Originally included in the Windows NT version, a domain controller managed access to user-granted resources and servers via username and password authentication.  That version worked through both a primary domain controller and a backup.  If for some reason the primary went down, the backup domain controller could then serve as the primary controller.

With the upgrade to Windows 2000, the domain controller became known as Active Directory.   Active directory is a more simplified version of a domain controller, with easier authentication for administrators and users, for managing resources, sites, various services and network users.

Active Directory then morphed into Active Directory Domain Services with the introduction of Windows Server 2008.  The most important feature is the ability of the main server to act as a global catalog server.  This feature eliminates the need for the chain of servers needed to access requested information with the prior domain control systems.

From domain controllers, to active directory, to the active directory domain services program of today, the simplification of administrative duties, user control, and password authentication, makes for an easier, more streamlined, and faster system for your business computer needs.


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