Home > Articles > Certification > Microsoft Certification

  • Print
  • + Share This
This chapter is from the book

Creating and Managing Computer Accounts in an Active Directory Environment

For every computer running Windows NT, Windows 2000 Professional, or Windows XP and every server running Windows Server 2003 that is a member of a domain, a computer account must be created in the domain. The computer account is a security principal, and it can be authenticated and granted permissions to access resources. A computer account is automatically created for each computer running the listed operating systems when the computer joins the domain.

No Account

No computer accounts are created for computers running any version of Windows 95, Windows 98, or Windows Me. They lack the advanced security features that make the computer accounts worthwhile. This is an important fact—most network administrators prefer to have no computers running these operating systems in their networks because it is difficult to manage and secure these computers.

Although it is true that computer accounts are created automatically when a computer joins a domain, sometimes it is worthwhile to create computer accounts manually. Doing so allows a user to install a new computer in the appropriate location in the domain, even if that user doesn't have the necessary administrative privileges, using the name of the computer account that already exists.

When you're using Remote Installation Services (RIS), it is helpful to set up a default naming policy because this allows you to determine where in Active Directory the computer object is placed. You have three options in choosing the Organizational Unit for the computer object:

  • In the default location for computer objects (Computers, under the domain object)

  • In the same Organizational Unit as the object of the user installing the computer

  • In a predetermined Organizational Unit

Note that even if the computer object has been pre-created, the user installing the computer must have been delegated the right to join a computer to the domain.

Creating Computer Accounts Using the Active Directory Users and Computers Console

To create a computer account using Active Directory Users and Computers, right-click the container you want the account to appear in and then choose New, Computer from the context menu. Assign the necessary values to the parameters available and click OK. Figure 3.30 shows the New Object dialog box in which you type the computer name and give a pre–Windows 2000 computer name (limited to 15 characters). You may also designate the computer as a pre–Windows 2000 computer, and you may state that the computer is to be a Windows NT 4 backup domain controller.

Figure 3.30Figure 3.30 Type the name of the computer. Windows Server 2003 will automatically create a pre–Windows 2000 computer name.

The next dialog box you see will ask you whether this is a managed computer. If you accept this option, the computer object will be accessible for automatic operating system installation by RIS.

Creating Computer Accounts by Joining the Domain

To create a computer account by joining a domain, first log on to the computer you want to join to the domain with the credentials of a user with administrative privileges on that computer. Choose the System applet from Control Panel, change the workgroup membership information to reference the domain the computer is to join, and click OK. The system will ask you for the credentials of a user object that has the necessary rights and, after a short pause, will show a dialog box to welcome the computer to the domain. The computer must be rebooted so that it can come up as a member of the domain.

Once the computer is a member of the domain, a user logging on to the domain has the logon request passed by the workstation through a secure channel to the domain controller. The computer must have a domain computer account for the secure channel to be created.

Guided Practice Exercise 3.2

You are the administrator of a network for a manufacturing company that has multiple Windows Server 2003 servers used for applications and file and print services. The Research and Development Department has received a massive increase in funding this fiscal year, and it is purchasing all new desktop computers.

You plan to delegate the desktop replacements to the desktop support group. However, because Windows XP Professional computers are being installed, a computer account will need to be added for each computer. You do not want to grant the desktop support group the necessary access to add the computer accounts, but you cringe at the idea of adding 500 computer accounts manually.

You must find a way to automate this process.

What is the best way to solve this issue in Windows Server 2003? On your own, try to develop a solution that would involve the least amount of downtime and expense.

If you would like to see a possible solution, follow these steps:

Estimated Time: 30 minutes

This is a fairly easy solution. You can use the dsadd utility with the computer option to add a computer account to the domain. The dsadd utility allows you to accept the computer account name from standard input (stdin) so that you can redirect the contents of a text file that contains a list of the computer names to be used in creating the accounts.

  1. From the Start menu, select Run.

  2. From the Run dialog box, enter CMD to open a command window.

  3. On the command line, enter the following command, where names.txt is a text file that contains a listing of the computer names:

  4. dsadd computer <names.txt>

By default, dsadd computer uses the user context of the currently logged on user to connect a domain controller in the logon domain. Administrative access is required.

Troubleshooting Computer Accounts

Because computers need to authenticate to one another, they need accounts and passwords. In addition to the two methods described previously, a computer account is also created when a Windows Server 2003 server is promoted to a domain controller with dcpromo.

Like user accounts, each computer account has a password. Passwords are created by the process that creates a computer account. On a defined interval, a process running on the local computer changes the password automatically, and the new password is communicated securely to a domain controller in the computer's domain.

What happens if a server running Windows Server 2003 changes its password, but there is no domain controller available for the new password to be written to? The next time the two computers are able to communicate, the server with the changed password, on finding that the new password is not accepted, uses the previous one instead. Once authentication is complete with the old password, the new password is stored on the domain controller and is subsequently replicated to all domain controllers in the domain.

Troubleshooting Issues Related to Computer Accounts by Using the Active Directory Users and Computers Console

When a computer account is operating incorrectly, it may be impossible to log on to the domain from the computer. You can see how, if the computer cannot authenticate to the domain controller, it will be impossible for the user to log on. In this case it is necessary to reset the computer's account and rejoin the computer to the domain. This process reestablishes the secure relationship between the computer and the domain it is a member of.

To reset a computer's account using Active Directory Users and Computers, select the folder containing the computer account and right-click the computer object. Choose Reset Account from the context menu, and click Yes from the confirmation dialog box. Reboot the workstation and then rejoin the domain as described earlier.

To reset a computer's account from the command line, you use the dsmod command with the -reset switch:

dsmod computer <dn of computer> -reset

As in the case where the computer account was reset using Active Directory Users and Computers, you will have to rejoin the computer to the domain.

Case Study: T Foster

Essence of the Case

Here are the essential elements in this case:

  • Export the Harshaw user accounts.

  • -Change the Harshaw accounts to reflect that they are now T Foster employees.

  • -Import the Harshaw data into the T Foster AD.


T Foster is a wholesaler for farm equipment based in the Midwest. T Foster has decided to merge with Harshaw, Inc., one of its biggest rivals, located in the Upper Midwest. The mission of this newly formed conglomerate is to dominate the wholesale farm implement business in the plains states.

T Foster now wants to merge the information technology systems of the two companies as quickly as possible. Fortunately, the two companies run the same order-entry and inventory software, so there won't be any end-user training required.

T Foster has decided to give the former Harshaw employees access to resources on the T Foster network, while slowly migrating the Harshaw data over.


The features in Windows Server 2003 enable T Foster to merge the two companies with the least amount of difficulty. The first step is to export the user list from the Harshaw Active Directory using ldifde. This extracts the existing user accounts to a file.

The next step is to change the distinguished name in all the user records because the users are now part of T Foster. All the information about the accounts will be the same, but the Active Directory paths will be different in all the distinguished names. This can be accomplished by using ldifde with –c <old string> <new string> to cause the replacement of any occurrences of <old string> with <new string>.

Here's an overview of the requirements and solutions in this case study:


Solution Provided By

Export the Harshaw user accounts.

Exporting the user list from the Harshaw Active Directory using ldifde.

Change the Harshaw accounts to reflect that they are now T Foster employees.

Using ldifde with the –c switch to change the distinguished names.

Import the Harshaw data into the T Foster AD.

Importing the user list from the Harshaw AD into the T Foster AD using ldifde.

  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020