How to Install Active Directory on Windows 11: Step-by-Step Guide

how to install active directory on windows 11

Installing Active Directory on Windows 11 involves setting up a feature called "Active Directory Domain Services" (AD DS). This allows you to manage users, computers, and other devices in a network. In a nutshell, you’ll need to enable this feature, configure a new forest, and then promote your server to a domain controller. Let’s look at how to do this in detail.

How to Install Active Directory on Windows 11

This section will guide you through the steps needed to install Active Directory on Windows 11. By the end, your computer will be set up as a domain controller, ready to manage network resources.

Step 1: Open Server Manager

Open Server Manager from the Start menu or by searching for it in the Windows search bar.

Server Manager is your go-to tool for managing your server’s features and roles. Opening this application is your first step toward installing Active Directory.

Step 2: Add Roles and Features

Click "Add Roles and Features" from the Server Manager Dashboard.

This wizard will guide you through the process of adding new roles and features to your computer. It’s like a setup assistant.

Step 3: Begin the Installation Wizard

Click "Next" to proceed through the initial screens of the wizard.

You’ll have to click through a few introductory screens. These provide a brief overview of what the wizard will do.

Step 4: Select Installation Type

Choose "Role-based or feature-based installation" and click "Next."

This option allows you to install the Active Directory Domain Services role on your computer.

Step 5: Select Destination Server

Select the server on which you want to install the role and click "Next."

Here, you’re just choosing your local computer as the destination server for the new role.

Step 6: Choose Server Roles

Check the box for "Active Directory Domain Services" and click "Next."

By selecting this role, you’re telling your computer to install the necessary files and settings for Active Directory.

Step 7: Add Features

When prompted to add features required for AD DS, click "Add Features" and then "Next."

Some additional features are needed to make Active Directory work. The wizard will automatically select these for you.

Step 8: Confirm Selections

Review the selections and click "Install."

This is your last chance to review what will be installed. Once you’re ready, click the “Install” button to begin the process.

Step 9: Wait for Installation

Wait for the installation to complete, then click "Close."

The wizard will install the required features. This might take a few minutes, so be patient.

Step 10: Promote Server to Domain Controller

Back in Server Manager, click on the flag icon and choose "Promote this server to a domain controller."

Your server needs to be promoted to finish setting up Active Directory. This option will start that process.

Step 11: Configure Deployment

Choose "Add a new forest" and provide a Root domain name, then click "Next."

You’ll need to create a new forest if this is the first domain controller in your network. Enter a domain name like "example.local."

Step 12: Set Forest and Domain Functional Levels

Set the functional levels and provide a Directory Services Restore Mode (DSRM) password, then click "Next."

The functional levels determine the features available in your domain. The DSRM password is used for recovery purposes.

Step 13: Additional Options

Click "Next" through the additional options screens until you reach the "Install" button.

Most of these can be left at their default settings unless you have specific requirements.

Step 14: Complete Installation

Click "Install" to finalize the Active Directory setup.

The server will restart, and voilà! Your Windows 11 computer is now a domain controller.

After completing these steps, your Windows 11 machine will be running Active Directory. You’ll be able to manage network resources, create user accounts, and set policies for your domain.

Tips for Installing Active Directory on Windows 11

  • Always back up your system before starting the installation.
  • Ensure your computer meets the hardware requirements.
  • Make sure your network settings are properly configured.
  • Use a strong password for the Directory Services Restore Mode.
  • Regularly update your system to keep it secure.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Active Directory?

Active Directory is a directory service developed by Microsoft for Windows domain networks. It helps manage users, computers, and other resources.

Why do I need to install Active Directory?

You need Active Directory to manage and organize network resources efficiently, especially in a business environment.

Can I install Active Directory on a Windows 10 machine?

No, Active Directory Domain Services is designed for server editions of Windows, although you can install the RSAT tools on Windows 10.

Do I need to be connected to the internet to install Active Directory?

No, but you need to be connected to your network if you’re adding this server to an existing domain.

What are functional levels?

Functional levels determine the available Active Directory features based on the Windows Server version running on your domain controllers.


  1. Open Server Manager.
  2. Add Roles and Features.
  3. Begin the Installation Wizard.
  4. Select Installation Type.
  5. Select Destination Server.
  6. Choose Server Roles.
  7. Add Features.
  8. Confirm Selections.
  9. Wait for Installation.
  10. Promote Server to Domain Controller.
  11. Configure Deployment.
  12. Set Forest and Domain Functional Levels.
  13. Additional Options.
  14. Complete Installation.


Installing Active Directory on Windows 11 may sound like a tech-heavy task, but breaking it down into simple steps makes it manageable. By following the instructions above, you’ll have a functional Active Directory setup in no time. Remember to take advantage of the tips and FAQs to help guide you through the process.

Whether you’re managing a small office or preparing to scale up, setting up Active Directory is a foundational step for network administration. If you found this guide helpful, consider exploring more advanced topics like Group Policy Management or incorporating additional domain controllers to enhance your network’s redundancy and load-balancing capabilities.

Now that you know how to install Active Directory on Windows 11, why not dive deeper and fully leverage the power of network management? The journey has just begun!

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