SBS 2008 and 2011 Simple Setup to Join Clients to Domain

This is a little timesaver I have been using for setting up Microsoft Small Business Server (SBS) in the simplest possible way. It may not be appropriate for every customer. However, when you get a situation where the person who owns the server is implementing their first domain ever, this may decrease the learning curve and make the process less painful for all concerned.

The assumption is you are putting the server in an environment with a bunch of client computers and they are all using the router for DHCP. Please note well that this setup does not follow SBS "best practices"; therefore, is frowned upon by the SBS experts as not an optimal setup. Further, this type of configuration has evolved because of the often limited knowledge of first-time server purchasers. The alternative is to use the Server for DHCP services. However, this article is intended as a bare-bones setup for persons with absolutely no knowledge of computers and limited administrative abilities wanting to avoid a more complex configuration.

With that said, the type of support I do entails working with such individuals. Therefore, I find this straight-forward way to set the environment the most simple to implement over a telephone conversation. Built on the concept of DHCP residing on router, this solution has these advantages:

The advantages:

Minimizes the Time spent server side
Allow the preexisting DHCP to be used
Keeps the environment familiar to the customer
Eliminates down time where phone support/internet could cut off from the server.
Allows the “new admin” to spend most of his/her time on the client side where they are most likely more comfortable

When you open the box and plug the server in you may:

1.      Go to server manager-> Click on the very top item on the left pane “Server Manager yourdomainname”
a.      Over on the right there are several links. Click on “configure IE ESC” turn both radio buttons to “off”.

2.      Go to Start-> ncpa.cpl and open the network   adapter properties. Put your IP address, subnet and gateway in so you will have internet initially.

3.      Go to the Small business server console and go to the network settings-> connectivity
a.      Turn DHCP on (only in the advanced console and nowhere else). Now turn off DHCP using only the advanced SBS console
b.      Now go to start-> run ->services.msc and disable DHCP service
c.      Now run your connect to the internet and internet address wizards.

4.      Once this is done, you can now use these special steps to set the clients to join the domain very easily.
a.      Go into the SBS console and enter the users (users-> users and groups) you want to use for your new domain
b.      At the time you enter the user, add an associated computer as well.

5.      Run the Connect to internet and internet address wizards in getting started tasks in the home page of the SBS console in start->administrative tools.

6.      Now on each client (one at a time) you will go-start-run->ncpa.cpl and then double click the network adapter settings.
a.      Double click TCP/IP version 4 and hit the advanced button.
b.      You will see 4 tabs- click DNS.
c.      These settings are temporary and used only until the domain conversion is done.

i.      Make sure the DNS server IP (The SBS IP address) is in the “DNS server addresses in order of use”
ii.      Select the “append these DNS suffixes (in order) and add the local domain.local name and make sure the “register this connections addresses DNS” is checked
iii.      See below Screenshot
d.      No further action should be necessary on the server to add all the client machines to the domain.


7.      Now you simply open the browser and make sure the pop up blocker is off, and you have added http://connect to trusted sites.

8.      Re-open the browser and type http://connect.

9.      You may now go through the wizard (on the client side) and configure the user to join the domain. Here is an article on the particulars

10.      This is very straight forward. The only gotcha is when it asks for credentials, it may be asking for the DOMAIN credentials to authenticate the action of joining the domain.
a.      When the client has joined the domain and you have had them login, you may now go back to step 5C and change the setting in DNS to “append primary and connection specific DNS suffixes. You can remove the .local address now as well

11.      Perform step 6 through 10 on all client computers and you will have completed the Basic Setup of SBS 2008 and 2011~!

I hope you found this useful.


Comments (8)

Top Expert 2010

I am in the same boat as alan & demazter.
It appears from the article, that there is more re-work necessary than having SBS manage the DHCP, defeating the stated advantage.

I have SBS running DHCP as well as routers running DHCP for different reasons.
I have a SBS setup without a DRAC card (or HP iLO), and I use the router with DHCP to do a WOL :)
(You can get the MAC's of the DHCP of the firewall by logging in remotely and do your WOL)

If you have a remote access card, I am not sure why you'd need the router to do DHCP.



Guys I do agree 100% with the disadvantages. However, this article is the fruition of grief. We get these calls where there is a nebulous DHCP server, connected to a linix box or a phone system in the corner that the cusotmer doesnt evern know about. THis setup keeps the cusotmer off the server as much as possible durring the setup period. And rightfully so, they are going around trying to keep thier clients workstations happy as well. How easy is it to turn around and turn on DHCP with the server? Maybe I should do and add on for after the setup period? Simply go back to the router, turn of DHCP, and then go back to the sbs console->network->connectivity and then turn on dhcp and re run the wizzards? That is only 5 minutes away. - When the cusotmer is all set up and ready to deal with the eventualities of getting the DHCP and DNS set by best practices.

Maybe this is an ugly reality. However, I have saved much grief to cusotmer all over the the country by doing it this way and letting them get there offices set up. I do apprciate the review so much and thank you for letting me be a part.



Ah. One last comment. The "purpose for this article" evolved from too many situations where there was a reason (or reasons) why they couldnt turn DHCP off on the router. In other words, they had dependencies on the router that "I" as a support person do not want to get involved in. In most cases, neither does the cusotmer. In other words, I am not going into phone systems and linux sendmail boxes to change the routing setup. I am going to leave that for the on site  professional. my scope of support is only for the server and SBS - with a cusotmer who does not know what is in his closets. This is alos the safest way to go when you dont know what may be running on the network and what else is depending on that router.
Glen KnightLead Techical Consultant
Author of the Year 2010
Top Expert 2010

Telephone systems etc. Are no excuse for badly configured network.

Most properly configured telephone systems would either use different switches or be configured on a different VLAN.

By "bodging" this way is only going to cause further support issues down the line.

As I said, there are only 2 reasons that I can think of why you wouldn't use SBS for DHCP and a telephone system is not one of them.  The telephones don't care where they get their IP from as long as they get the correct options and the correct IP.  10 minutes configuration time with the correct information from the telephone support people.

90% of the businesses I support have IP telephones, I would say 95% of those have separate VLAN's with QoS for Voice.  The other 5% don't.  However 100% of them use the DHCP on the SBS server.
Alan HardistyCo-Owner
Top Expert 2011

Whilst I can appreciate your reasons for writing the article, which came from situations you have found yourself in, there is no reason to perpetuate the bad situation by adding to the lousy setup.

If you are responsible for the SBS server, I can't think of any more important part of a network than the server itself, thus it should be your responsibility to educate and correct the network and bring it into some sort of sensible order.

What more perfect time to do this than when you are installing the server?

This article advises nothing more than how to get around a crazy setup, by doing yet more crazy things.  Eventually the network will be so badly setup / configured, that any simple change to any part of might bring the network to its knees, so rather than advise how to continue the mistakes of the past, start by putting things right and leaving the network setup correctly, in a standard way, that anyone can take over and manage without have to unravel the mess that will be left behind if this kind of mess is left without being corrected.

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