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I was trying to join a fresh installed Windows 7 laptop into Windows Server 2003 and after entering the domain username and password, I got the error message The specified domain either does not exist or could not be contacted.

How can I fix this?

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up vote 8 down vote accepted

Sounds like a problem with your DNS. Make sure your laptop is pointed to the domain controller for DNS. Without being able to query the _msdcs. service records, it won't be able to join the domain.

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@Achu - Make sure your domain controller(s) are running the DNS role and that your forward zones for your domain actually exist. If you login to the DC and run the DNS snap in you should see the _msdcs.<domain name> zone with records under it as well as the forward zone for your domain with host records in it. – BoxerBucks Mar 24 '11 at 13:45
go to a cmd prompt and type "set logon" and see what domain controller you are logging into. Make sure the IP address of that domain controller is in your DNS list as the first entry. Remote desktop to that domain controller and go to start->administrtive tools->DNS and connect to localhost. Look at the forward zones. Make sure they exist. – BoxerBucks Mar 24 '11 at 14:18

First you want to run "ipconfig /all" in a command prompt and see what your DNS servers are set to. If they are not set to DNS servers that are authoritative for your domain (or cannot forward the request to DNS servers that are) then you will not be able to find the _msdcs records. Try pinging the FQDN of your domain and seeing if you get a response.

If you can't ping the FQDN you will most likely need to change your windows 7 machine to use different DNS servers (ones that are authoritative for the domain).

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Are you pining "FQDN" or are you pinging the Fully Qualified Domain Name (FQDN) of your domain? The FQDN would be something like,, example.local. Something like that. – HostBits Mar 24 '11 at 16:07

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