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Is DNS required to be a role on an Active Directory server? Is it possible to run 2 servers that support DNS only and 2 for Active Directory? Or is AD required to be on a machine that runs DNS.

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It's not technically required, but it makes things a lot simpler to have your DCs act as DNS servers.

One of the best benefits is the ability to create AD-Integrated Zones and conditional forwards. This allows your DNS records to exist within AD and be replicated across your other DCs/DNS servers in your domain and even forest. Once all your forward lookup zones are AD-Integrated, bringing on a new DC/DNS by DCpromo automatically pulls in all the necessary records for those zones.

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    There are a ton of pros and practically no cons to having the DNS server on the DC. Both roles are highly unlikely to cause any significant load on your server. If your network were large enough that DNS and/or DC performance were potentially an issue, you wouldn't be asking such a basic question. May 21, 2014 at 19:52
  • @Cheekaleak your answer is contradictory to another SF question that is very similar. serverfault.com/questions/374285/… May 21, 2014 at 22:01
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    @BradBouchard I'm sorry but how is it contradictory? You need A DNS server for AD DS services, but the DNS server role doesn't HAVE to exist on the same server as AD DS, or even a windows server for that matter. However, like I said in my answer, it makes the most sense to install the DNS role on the same server as the AD DS role.
    – HostBits
    May 22, 2014 at 0:26

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