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AD server vs. Domain Controller vs. Member Server , et al.

    Question

  • My friends and I were funning around the other night discussing general Active Directory stuff.   One of the guys mentioned "AD servers" and then another jumped in and asked "which AD servers" and the discussion quickly became a bantering match.   At issue was the definition of an AD server vs. Domain Controller.   It got me thinking.   I've always thought of AD servers as a general term given to "all" servers that have an Active Directory function...ie. Domain Controllers, DNS servers, DHCP servers, etc.   And, that Domain Controllers were a specific type of AD server.   Am I right?  After the debate the other night I'm not really sure.
    Saturday, October 09, 2010 3:01 PM

Answers

  • A computer with a server OS and AD installed is a Domain Controller. Any other computer with a server OS (or functioning as a server, for example with SQL Server installed) can be called a member server (if it is joined to the domain). A member server does not have AD installed. I don't recall seeing the term "AD server". If a computer has DNS or DHCP, but not AD, it would be a member server.

    Richard Mueller


    MVP ADSI
    Saturday, October 09, 2010 3:52 PM
  • Adding to Richard.. hereunder some info

    Active Directory is what is called a directory service, it stores objects like users and computers. So you can consider it as as database that store users and computers configuration in AD domain.

    A domain controller is the server running Active Directory; Domain controllers are typically referred as DC. Domain controller is a server based on MS windows Server 200X which is responsible for allowing host access to domain resources.  
    A Domain controller authenticates the users and the computers to join the domain. You can have many Domain controllers in your AD for many reasons, like redundancy and load balance as users can use anyone of them as they are replicating AD database.

    Member servers are servers running within a domain. Member sever runs an operating system which belongs to a domain and is not a DC. Member server typically run different services on the machine can act like a file server web server application server print server.

    Saturday, October 09, 2010 4:04 PM
  • Just to add, the term "AD Servers" is not a phrase you will find in any of the technical books and I myself have not heard that term used in the industry. 

    If I, in my opinion, heard someone refer to an "AD Server", I would interpret that to be a Domain Controller. As the others mentioned, any other server joined to the domain is considered a member server.  Non domain joined servers are referred to as "Stand-alone" servers. 

    For me, this goes back all the way to NT 4.0 (the member vs stand-alone terms).

     

     


    Visit: anITKB.com, an IT Knowledge Base.
    Saturday, October 09, 2010 8:55 PM

All replies

  • A computer with a server OS and AD installed is a Domain Controller. Any other computer with a server OS (or functioning as a server, for example with SQL Server installed) can be called a member server (if it is joined to the domain). A member server does not have AD installed. I don't recall seeing the term "AD server". If a computer has DNS or DHCP, but not AD, it would be a member server.

    Richard Mueller


    MVP ADSI
    Saturday, October 09, 2010 3:52 PM
  • Adding to Richard.. hereunder some info

    Active Directory is what is called a directory service, it stores objects like users and computers. So you can consider it as as database that store users and computers configuration in AD domain.

    A domain controller is the server running Active Directory; Domain controllers are typically referred as DC. Domain controller is a server based on MS windows Server 200X which is responsible for allowing host access to domain resources.  
    A Domain controller authenticates the users and the computers to join the domain. You can have many Domain controllers in your AD for many reasons, like redundancy and load balance as users can use anyone of them as they are replicating AD database.

    Member servers are servers running within a domain. Member sever runs an operating system which belongs to a domain and is not a DC. Member server typically run different services on the machine can act like a file server web server application server print server.

    Saturday, October 09, 2010 4:04 PM
  • Just to add, the term "AD Servers" is not a phrase you will find in any of the technical books and I myself have not heard that term used in the industry. 

    If I, in my opinion, heard someone refer to an "AD Server", I would interpret that to be a Domain Controller. As the others mentioned, any other server joined to the domain is considered a member server.  Non domain joined servers are referred to as "Stand-alone" servers. 

    For me, this goes back all the way to NT 4.0 (the member vs stand-alone terms).

     

     


    Visit: anITKB.com, an IT Knowledge Base.
    Saturday, October 09, 2010 8:55 PM
  • I'd like to add a server to the AD database, but don't need it to have any of the DC, DNS or DHCP roles, as I don't need to provide any of these services (for example a file server).

    It appears that the file server must be part of the AD database in order to be a replication member.

    Exactly which roles are needed to be part of the AD database?


    Wednesday, November 14, 2012 12:10 PM