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MS-Windows Troubleshooting

The domain controller for this domain cannot be located


When attempting to add a workstation to a new (NT4) domain the following error is generated:

The domain controller for this domain cannot be located.


This error indicates that the workstation cannot locate the domain controller on the network. Typically this is either due to a simple error when specifying the name of the domain, is indicative of general network connectivity problems or, if communicating over a WAN, an incorrect LMHOSTs file.

Possible Remedies:

  • Check that the name of the domain has been spelt correctly.
  • Check that there is basic network connectivity between the workstation and the server. Start a command session and enter the command:

    ping domain_server

    where ‘domain_server’ is the name of the primary domain controller for the domain. If this fails then there is a problem with network connectivity. See the article on ‘General Network connectivity problems’.

  • If the domain controller is not located on the same local area network (LAN) then the problem may be in the LMHOSTS file. (The following is based on the Microsoft knowledge base articles Q180094 and Q163409.) Check the local LMHOSTS file and add the following lines if they do not exist:

    nn.nn.nn.nn  PDCName #PRE #DOM:domain
    nn.nn.nn.nn  "Domain         \0x1c"  #PRE
    nn.nn.nn.nn  "Domain         \0x1b"  #PRE

    Replace ‘nn.nn.nn.nn’ with the actual IP address of the primary domain controller, and replace 'domain' with the actual name of the domain. Be aware that the number spaces inside the double quotes are very important. There must be a total of 20 characters with the double quotes. The domain name can be up to 15 characters and should be padded with spaces to bring it up to 15 characters. The other entries are:

    \0x1B Domain Master Browser.
    \0x1C Domain Controller.
    #PRE The entry is preloaded into the name cache. This saves the lmhosts file from being parsed each time.
    #DOM: The entry is associated with the domain name that follows.

    Once these lines are in the LMHOSTS file enter:

    nbtstat -R

    This clears the name cache and reloads the contents of the LMHOSTS file.

These notes have been tested with Windows NT4.

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