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If I want to define domain controller then i would say DC is where active directory installed or

Acitve Directory simply means: Secure centralized authentication and management and domain controller = ADDS + DNS.

But I get confused when i read here that

I also think it is VERY EASY to say DOMAIN CONTROLLER == ACTIVE DIRECTORY, which isn't quite the case.

I want to know is it correct or wrong? If wrong then what is the difference?

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    Think of AD as the database/repository and the DC as the facilitator/custodian/host of that repository. Really no different in comparison to a SQL server running SQL. – TheCleaner May 3 '17 at 14:10
  • @TheCleaner I didn't get this Really no different in comparison to a SQL server running SQL. – d a i s y May 4 '17 at 3:27
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    @daisy I think TheCleaner means is that when people talk of "the SQL server" they sometimes mean "the box it runs on" and sometimes "the software [providing access to and managing database(s)]". Loosely, the DC is "the box it runs on" and AD is "the software [providing access to and managing user/directory information]". – TripeHound May 4 '17 at 7:38
  • It's the difference between a single cab and a taxi service. A taxi service can consist of one or many cabs, but without any cabs, there is no taxi service. – Heinzi May 4 '17 at 8:21
  • >Just to put it another way that might be helpful is to say that Active Directory is a directory service for Windows domain networks and the Domain Controller is what serves that service on your Windows domain network. So, there is a difference between Active Directory and Domain Controller. – Net Runner May 4 '17 at 13:43
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Just to put it another way that might be helpful is to say that Active Directory is a directory service for Windows domain networks and the Domain Controller is what serves that service on your Windows domain network. So, there is a difference between Active Directory and Domain Controller. One is the service, while the other is what serves that service.

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Very simply, Active Directory is a set of services, that are provided by Domain Controllers (usually more than one). The domain controller itself usually refers to the Software itself where Active Directory refers to the service that that software provides.

A similar example is HTTP, which is the service, but the software running it is a web server like IIS, Httpd, NGINX, etc.

  • The example is a bit off, HTTP is a protocol. – Koraktor May 3 '17 at 20:47
  • Yeah, http is a protocol, but it's also the service that runs that your web browser talks to (using the protocol). HTTP Server --> HTTP Client ~= AD Server --> AD Client – Steve Butler May 3 '17 at 21:19
  • A better example might be a web site. E.g. "Active Directory is like Amazon.com and domain controllers are like web servers." – Greenstone Walker May 4 '17 at 2:38
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Active Directory

*It acts as a centralized repository and provides centralized control.Everything in the AD is treated as an object.It is essentially a database which holds the objects.The name of the database file is NTDS.DIT

Domain Controller

*When we deploy active directory in a server then it is called as a domain controller.It runs the AD Domain Service and it also holds the copy of the AD database.Replication is done from one DC to another DC.The job of the DC is to authenticate the user who can access and can't have access.

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    Not all DCs necessarily holds a copy of the database. In case they need information on a record not avilable locally in the database copy, a query (referral) is made to obtain the information needed. But this goes far beyond the scope of the original question :) – Mikael Dyreborg Hansen May 3 '17 at 14:07
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Active Directory is what is called a directory service, it stores objects like users and computers. So you can consider it as as database that store users and computers configuration in AD domain. A domain controller is the server running Active Directory; Domain controllers are typically referred as DC. Domain controller is a server based on MS windows Server 200X which is responsible for allowing host access to domain resources.
A Domain controller authenticates the users and the computers to join the domain. You can have many Domain controllers in your AD for many reasons, like redundancy and load balance as users can use anyone of them as they are replicating AD database.

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