How to Join Windows Server Core to Domain

If you have installed a Windows Server Core and you want to join Windows Server core to domain, it’s easy. Using the SConfig command you can join a Windows Server Core to an Active Directory domain.

The Windows Server Core option is a minimal installation option that is available when you deploy Windows Server. Server Core includes most but not all server roles. The Server Core has a smaller disk footprint, and therefore a smaller attack surface due to a smaller code base. To learn more about server core, visit this link.

Suppose that you have installed Windows Server 2019 core and now you want to add this server to your domain. However you may want to rename this server first and then join the server to domain. Since a Server Core does not have a Desktop Experience GUI, SConfig utility will be used.

How to Join Windows Server Core to Domain

The steps to join Windows Server core to Active Directory Domain are as follows.

  • First of all login to the Windows Server core with local administrator account.
  • Type SConfig at the command prompt and press Enter.
  • From the list of options, choose Option 1 (Domain/Workgroup) by typing 1 and press ENTER.
  • To join the server to the domain, type D and press ENTER.
  • Specify the domain name and a valid user for this domain (domain\user). Type the user password when prompted.
  • Reboot the server.

As I mentioned earlier, you may want to rename the server before you join it to the domain. Type SConfig and press enter.

sconfig command

Under Server Configuration, type 2 and press Enter to change computer name. Enter the new computer name and press Enter. You see a pop asking you to restart the computer, click Yes.

Rename windows computer using sconfig

Login to the server and again type SConfig to get back to Server Configuration. The computer name is now changed. Now type 1 to join the server to domain.

Join a Windows Server Core to Domain

You get the option to Change Domain or Workgroup Membership, type D and press Enter. Specify the name of the domain to join and authorized domain/user.

Another command prompt opens where-in you must enter the password of the domain account.

Join a Windows Server Core to Domain

While joining the server core to the domain, you also get an option to change the computer name before restarting. Since we have already changed the computer name in the above step, click No.

Join a Windows Server Core to Domain

You must restart the computer to join the server to domain. Click Yes.

Restart computer

After the system reboots, login to the server and type SConfig. The Windows Server core is now part of active directory domain.

Server core joined to domain

Prajwal Desai

Hi, I am Prajwal Desai. For last few years, I have been working on multiple technologies such as SCCM / Configuration Manager, Intune, Windows 11, Azure, Security etc. I created this site so that I can share valuable information with everyone.

3 thoughts on “How to Join Windows Server Core to Domain”

    • It will show up in a new cmd-like windows (like a 3rd part), so just enter admin-username.

      But my issue is that I can’t join to the DC (the next step after PWD).


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