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Rejoining a Domain in Less than Two Reboots

I feel a little silly just finding out this little tip recently as I can’t count how many times I’ve had to manually re-join a Windows workstation or member server to a domain in my life. This is a pretty common procedure as various issues can sometimes cause problems with the secure channel communications between workstations and domain controllers in an Active Directory domain. Rejoining the domain reestablishes the trusted partnership and in most cases resolves the issue.

The tried-and-true process has always been to remove the workstation from the domain by temporarily moving it into a workgroup and them moving it back into the domain. This requires two reboots and if you’ve learned the hard way, a new local Administrator account with a known-password just in case ;)

In a recent training class we were using multiple Virtual PC images in the test labs and a few of the guests were having problems logging into the domain. The instructors had a sidebar in the materials that mentioned if this happened to remove/rejoin the domain by using a process that I had never seen, but works in a single reboot!

It’s quite simple: basically just change the Domain name field to use the Active Directory’s other domain naming context. Meaning if the DNS value is currently entered in the setting field, then change it to the NETBIOS value, or vice-versa. This will force Windows to believe it is connecting to a new domain and allow the process to happen in a single reboot.

So, in this example I have a workstation JDSPC02 that is a member of the lab.schertz.local AD domain. The DNS name of ‘lab.schertz.local’ is currently used as shown below in the Computer Name Changes window:


I know that the NETBIOS domain name for the same AD domain is simply ‘LAB’ so I replaced the value to ‘LAB’.


All too easy:


Let it be said that I have no idea if this is a supported or even recommended action, but it’s worked fine each time I’ve tested it.

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