Laptop can't see Server & won't join domain

Hi All

Although a techie, my speciality isn't in servers (painfully obvious) but I'm trying to help someone out & onto the right path.

I've done some work sorting out network shares etc. But there's one machine I can't get joined onto the domain.

It's running XP Pro SP3. I created a new user on the server (MS Server 2003) but when I try & join the laptop to the domain (via rightclick>MyComputer>Network ID) it refuses to join.

Have I done something daft? Can anyone walk me through the steps & see if I've overlooked something obvious?

Many Thanks.
Who is Participating?

[Product update] Infrastructure Analysis Tool is now available with Business Accounts.Learn More

I wear a lot of hats...

"The solutions and answers provided on Experts Exchange have been extremely helpful to me over the last few years. I wear a lot of hats - Developer, Database Administrator, Help Desk, etc., so I know a lot of things but not a lot about one thing. Experts Exchange gives me answers from people who do know a lot about one thing, in a easy to use platform." -Todd S.

First of all,

Are you logged in as a local admin on that laptop?
Are the DNS servers set correctly the machine will use DNS to locate the domain ?
sefton-computer-repairsAuthor Commented:
There's only one (local) user on that laptop and is set as an admin.

No explicit DNS servers set, IP & DNS both set to auto. (Standard SoHo Netgear ADSL/wifiRouter acts as Gateway on
The 7 Worst Nightmares of a Sysadmin

Fear not! To defend your business’ IT systems we’re going to shine a light on the seven most sinister terrors that haunt sysadmins. That way you can be sure there’s nothing in your stack waiting to go bump in the night.

Sikhumbuzo NtsadaIT AdministrationCommented:
Check your IP settings and make sure it is using a correct DNS server.
for domain join to function the routers DNS server isnt going to work. it needs to be set to the correct DNS server (very likely a DC)

Experts Exchange Solution brought to you by

Your issues matter to us.

Facing a tech roadblock? Get the help and guidance you need from experienced professionals who care. Ask your question anytime, anywhere, with no hassle.

Start your 7-day free trial
What is the error message you receive when trying to join the domain?
sefton-computer-repairsAuthor Commented:
(The laptop does still connect to the internet incidentally).

The Server is just hung off the router so should I use its IP as the DNS? (Educate me: How does that then work for Internet DNS?)

Error Msg: Can't quite remember as it was the end of a long day but I was getting a simple message along the lines of "Unable to join domain" (useful!)

I also got a message along the lines of "multiple users not allowed to join domain". There was no other user on the laptop, no other logged on users using the same username on the server. The laptop was shown in the computer list on the managament screen, tried deleting that & no joy. (Tried adding it back, still no joy).
You don't need to set up anything specific for DNS settings as they should be provided as part of your DHCP ip address. The issue here is if the machine can't find itself to be in the same domain, (ie family subnet) it won't be able to access the DC when you request to join. If you can connect to the internet, then you should be able to see your domain. Now, are you using a domain admin account to join, correct?

if you can't see the internet, then use the following commands to reset your IP and Windsock interfaces and clear the dns cache:

c:\>ipconfig /flushdns
c:\>netsh int ip reset > resetlog.txt
c:\>netsh winsock reset

after this you will have to restart your pc. Then try again
In order for the computer to be able to resolve the domain name and find the servers the DNS server it uses must know of the AD domain a consumer router is just forwarding requests to an internet server, you might be able to configure the DHCP options on the router to use the servers IP for DNS.

DNS on a windows server will forward requests it cant resolve to the root dns servers, this works but should be avoided. you can configure forwarding on the server. if you can provide more detail about the server OS i can provide instructions
sefton-computer-repairsAuthor Commented:
I can see the Internet. Other machines are working fine so I'm loathe to alter anything on the Server, it's just this one laptop.

I'm wondering now if I've not used a domain admin account to join as this machine is for a new user whereas others were generally using existing users. (Although I think at least one was a new user ID and that worked fine).

Is it as simple as ensuring that the user ID is a member of 'domain admins'? (Or just using the Adminsitrator ID to do the first join)?
any domain admin user ID will allow joining but any user account can join a machine up to 10 times to a domain by default.

your really going to need to get the error in detail to track down the issue
try filling the username field as:


ensure that it is a backward slash separating the two without spaces

e.g. mountain.peak.local\administrator
I believe that by now you should have enough information to add that computer to the domain. Are you still getting an error? If so what is it?
All of these great minds would be able to help once you provide more detail on the matter.
sefton-computer-repairsAuthor Commented:
:) I'm back in there tomorrow so will let you know what happens!

I've got a lot of good pointers from the thread, thank you all & I hope to be back with some good news in 24hrs!
The basic one - Laptop's "TimeZone" is correct with server before join domain?
sefton-computer-repairsAuthor Commented:
Thanks everyone. I got it working but I'm not exactly sure where the root of the problem lay in the end. I suspect it was tied up with the DNS settings on the laptop as changed those to both the router IP & Google's public DNS IP and it managed to see the server/DC again.

Changed 'em back to auto & working fine so suspect that helped flush things through & gave it a range of DNS possibilities.

Put several brand new machines on at the same time & they worked fine, first time with everything set to auto so I'm not going completely mad :)

That laptop is mighty cranky anyway so I suspect its days are numbered. But I've learnt a lot from the thread so thank you all - I shall now retreat to my usual world of SEO & Social Media :)

Thanks again
It's more than this solution.Get answers and train to solve all your tech problems - anytime, anywhere.Try it for free Edge Out The Competitionfor your dream job with proven skills and certifications.Get started today Stand Outas the employee with proven skills.Start learning today for free Move Your Career Forwardwith certification training in the latest technologies.Start your trial today
Windows Server 2003

From novice to tech pro — start learning today.