How to Fix: Can't Connect to Domain Controller (DNS Does Not Exist)

Dennis Faas's picture

Infopackets Reader Sam G. writes:

" Dear Dennis,

I hope you can help! I own a small business and we recently purchased a new, refurbished Server computer running Windows Server 2012 R2 DataCenter. I have set up the server as a domain controller, and now I'm trying to connect to the domain using my PC here at work - however, every time I try to connect, it gives me the error 'DNS name does not exist. (error code 0x0000232B RCODE_NAME_ERROR)'. Of course the error message is much longer than that. I am not a network administrator and admittedly not very knowledgeable when it comes to Windows Server issues. Can you please point me in the right direction? "

My response:

When it comes to answering questions such as this, which deal with networking and very specific configurations, the number of possibilities are practically infinite. That's why I'll often ask the user if he or she would like me to connect to the machine(s) using my remote desktop service - so that I can look at the issue first hand. This eliminates a lot of back and forth through email, and allows me to get the job done quickly.

Sam agreed to allow me to access to his machines. With that said, there are a few things to note before I answer the question with respect to Sam's Windows Server 2102 R2 configuration:

First: all of Sam's computers in his office (including the Server) were connected to his router - this is a pretty typical setup. By default, most routers will have DHCP enabled (which assigns IP addresses for any computer connected to the network); the router was also configured to use his Internet Service Provider's DNS servers (which are used to transform domain names into IP addresses). With that said, when a domain controller is installed using Windows Server 2012, it also installs the DNS role.

Secondly: Sam's Windows Server 2012 R2 domain was labeled as "mycompany.local" (for example). This is a domain, similar to a website name. When Sam attempted to connected to his domain, the router was queried (because it controls the DNS), but responded with "DNS name does not exist". This is normal, because the router's DNS does not know the location of "mycompany.local" since it is in fact a local domain name and not one that is published online the Internet. Now that we understand the issue we can solve the problem.

In this case, the solution to the problem is simple. Sam needed to configure his local computer to use the Windows Server DNS, instead of the router's DNS. That way, the Windows Server DNS would be queried for "mycompany.local" and the Server would know the IP immediately, which would then allow the connection to the domain controller.

That said, there's something else to note. Since DNS service runs on TCP/IP version 4 and version 6, I suggest disabling IPv6 temporarily on the local machine until it is connected to the domain controller. Based on my experience, many users complain about not being able to connect to the domain controller because IPv6 was enabled.

How to Fix: Can't Connect to Domain Controller (DNS Does Not Exist)

Here are the steps to take if you want to point your local computer to the domain controller's DNS server. This will then allow you to connect the local computer to your domain controller.

On the server:

  1. You will first need to ensure the server is using a static IP address as this address will also be used to serve the DNS. To do so, click Start, then click "PC Settings"; when the Settings window appears, click "Network and Internet". Another way to get here is to right click your network adapter icon in the tray bar (near the clock) and select "Open Network and Internet Settings".
     
  2. On the proceeding window, click the link that says "Change adapter options". A new window will appear with the title "Network connections". Right click your network adapter (usually it is labeled "Ethernet"), and select "Properties".
     
  3. The "Ethernet properties" (or such) window will appear; left click to highlight "Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4)" and select "Properties". A new window will appear; place a check mark (dot) next to "Use the following IP address" and enter in an easy to remember IP that is not used on the network.

    At this point you may want to open an administrative command prompt and type in "ipconfig /all" to look at your current IP configuration. This will be helpful when inputting the proper information.

    For example, if your the router's IP address is with 192.168.0.1, you could force the server to use a static IP of 192.168.0.50, with subnet mask 255.255.250.0, and default gateway the same as your router (which is usually 192.168.0.1 or 192.168.0.254, etc). It is best to look at the ipconfig to be sure, otherwise the network on the server won't work at all. If you don't know what you're doing here, you can contact me for remote desktop support and I can set this up for you.
     
  4. On the same window, it should also have a check mark (dot) next to "Use the following DNS server addresses" with 127.0.0.1 as the address, as this address is effectively pointing to itself. Click "OK" when finished, then open a command prompt and "ping google.com" to make sure you still have Internet / network access on the server. If you don't, you did something wrong.

On the client machine:

The settings are very similar as above.

  1. On a Windows 10 client machine, you would: click Start, then click "PC Settings"; when the Settings window appears, click "Network and Internet". Another way to get here is to right click your network adapter icon in the tray bar (near the clock) and select "Open Network and Internet Settings".
     
  2. On the proceeding window, click the link that says "Change adapter options". A new window will appear with the title "Network connections". Right click your network adapter (usually it is labeled "Ethernet" or "WiFi" or such), and select "Properties".
     
  3. The "Ethernet properties" or "WiFi properties" (or such) window will appear; if you see "Internet Protocol Version 6 (TCP/IPv6)" with a check mark beside it, remove the check mark and click "Apply". Next, left click to highlight "Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4)" and select "Properties". A new window will appear; place a check mark (dot) next to "Use the following DNS server addresses" and enter in the static IP address you used for the Windows Server, and 8.8.8.8 as the secondary DNS (as this is a public DNS used by Google). This way you will have the server's DNS as well as Google's DNS.
     
  4. Click "OK" when finished. Next, click Start, then type in "This PC" or "My Computer", right click it and select "Properties". The "System" window will appear; click the link on the left that says "Advanced system settings". The "System Properties" window will now appear. Click the tab that says "Computer Name", then click the "Change..." button to change the domain of the local computer. On the proceeding window, click place a check mark (dot) next to "Member of" and then type in the name of your domain controller, then click "OK".

At this point the local computer should be able to contact the domain controller and login. Of course you will need user name and password to login to the domain controller. To set that up, launch "Active Directory Users and Computers" via "Server Manager", then click your domain name -> users, then right click and select New -> User.

I hope that helps.

Additional 1-on-1 Support: From Dennis

If all of this is over your head, or if you need further assistance in troubleshooting the "DNS does not exist" / inability to connect to your domain controller, I can help using my remote desktop support service. Simply contact me, briefly describing the issue and I will get back to you as soon as possible.

Got a Computer Question or Problem? Ask Dennis!

I need more computer questions. If you have a computer question -- or even a computer problem that needs fixing -- please email me with your question so that I can write more articles like this one. I can't promise I'll respond to all the messages I receive (depending on the volume), but I'll do my best.

About the author: Dennis Faas is the owner and operator of Infopackets.com. With over 30 years of computing experience, Dennis' areas of expertise are a broad range and include PC hardware, Microsoft Windows, Linux, network administration, and virtualization. Dennis holds a Bachelors degree in Computer Science (1999) and has authored 6 books on the topics of MS Windows and PC Security. If you like the advice you received on this page, please up-vote / Like this page and share it with friends. For technical support inquiries, Dennis can be reached via Live chat online this site using the Zopim Chat service (currently located at the bottom left of the screen); optionally, you can contact Dennis through the website contact form.

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Comments

sytruck_8413's picture

Dennis,

On this system, when finished with everything working, should IPv6 be turned back on?

And on a simple home network (5 machines with router) do you recommend IPv6 be left on or not? IOW what are your general recommendations RE IPv6?

Thanks.