Setting up Active Directory is far from difficult. However, many people experience problems with their installation shortly after completing it because they neglect to properly plan their implementation of DNS. I receive emails on almost a weekly basis from users who have gone ahead and run dcpromo, and then wonder why client systems can’t properly connect to the Internet. The purpose of this article is to act as a quick primer towards ensuring that Active Directory works, while at the same time allowing your network systems proper Internet access.
Before I begin, it’s worth mentioning that this article is aimed at users who are looking to install and work with Active Directory on a small or home network. It is not aimed at users upgrading from NT 4, or planning a major Active Directory deployment including Exchange 2000, although the central concepts outlined still hold true. However, if you are looking for a quick and easy guide to setting up an AD test network, then this article should help to ensure that you get started on the right foot. I assume that the server we are configuring will be the first domain controller in your new Active Directory domain, and that your internal systems can already access the Internet via some method, such as Internet Connection Sharing, NAT, or perhaps some type of connection-sharing hardware router.