Sudha Aravindan has taught high school Math and professional development in Information Technology for over 10 years. Sudha has a Doctorate of Education degree in Mathematics Education from the University of Delaware, USA, a Masters degree in English Literature from the University of Kerala, India, a Bachelor of Education degree in Teaching of Math from the University of Kerala, India, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Math, Physics and Statistics from the University of Kerala, India. Sudha has a certificate in Java programming and Statistical Analysis.
What is a Domain Controller?
Each of the employees in Kate's office has a key to the building. One weekend Kate had some important work to do, but when she reached her office she realized she had forgotten her key. She called the security officer, who authenticated her as an employee before letting her in.
A domain controller is in some ways similar to the security officer of an office building. In an office there are many computers, each one requiring the user to login with his or her own user name and password. Suppose there are a hundred office computers. From the perspective of an Information Technology (IT) professional, it is difficult to manage the authentication of each individual machine. A simpler solution is to configure one computer to manage the authentication of all the others. All the office computers will then be connected to this main computer to form a network. The main computer is known as the domain controller, while the other computers it authenticates are known as clients. In such set up, the client computers are said to be on the Windows domain. Now the IT person finds that the login credentials will not have to be managed on each individual computer. instead, the user names and login credentials of all authenticated users in the office can be managed much more easily through one machine, the domain controller.
Active Directory is the central database on a domain controller where the login credentials of all client computers, printers, and other shared resources in the network are stored. When someone tries to login, their login credentials must match those saved in Active Directory. If the login credentials do not match, the user will be denied access. All client computers on the domain share this common Active Directory. Only an administrator or IT professional has authority to add computers or shared resources to the domain, further strengthening security.
Functions of a Domain Controller
The domain controller saves plenty of headaches in the office. Take Sue, for instance. She works as an administrative assistant on the second floor. She has a meeting on the fifth floor with more than 20 attendees. Since Sue's computer is on the domain, Sue can print from a printer on the fifth floor without even leaving her own desk. Now the documents will be waiting for her when she heads to the meeting.
Another advantage is that any one in the office can login to any other computer on the domain using their own login credentials and still have access to all their personal files. In the above example, Sue can login to Mark's computer on the fifth floor with her own user name and password, and she would still have access to all her personal documents. File security is also ensured because, even when Sue logs into Marks computer as herself, she does not see any of Mark's files. Sue only sees the files and printers that she has access to.
Each client computer can only login to the domain controller that it is connected to. If an office has more than one, then each user will only have access to computers on the domain he or she was assigned. For example, suppose an office has two domain controllers - one of them is named jupiter.domain.com and the other one is named saturn.domain.com. Kim is on the first floor and her computer is on the Jupiter domain. Bob is on the first floor also, but his computer is on the Saturn domain. In this case, Kim and Bob will not be able to login to each other's computers using their own login credentials because they are on different domains.
Difference between a Domain and a Domain Controller
In computer networking terms, a domain refers to the entire group of computers connected to one central server. Authenticated users can logon to any of the computers in the domain. Each user can be given specific rights in the domain, where each person can have access to different secure resources including files and printers.
A domain controller is the main computer server in the domain that controls or manages all the computers within the domain. A domain controller has an Active Directory database from which user accounts can be created and deleted, and security and access granted or revoked.
In computer networking terms, a domain controller is a computer server that manages the login credentials, printers and shared resources within a Windows domain. The domain is the entire network of computers including the domain controller and all the client computers. The domain controller has an Active Directory database that is used to control the authentication and security access of all client computers. Advantages of having a domain controller include staff being able to login to any computer on the domain using their own login credentials and being able to access files and printers for which they have been granted access. When there are multiple domains, staff can login to only the domains for which they are authenticated users.
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