Install and configure DNS Server for Domain Controllers on Windows 2003

DNS Server on Windows Server 2003 is to resolve DNS Names to IP addresses and reversed. From Windows 2000, Active Directory acquires the hierarchical naming structure as the name of Active Directory (and its partitions). For that reason, an internal DNS Server is required to store and resolve Active Directory information.

Moreover, internal DNS Server could be used to resolve internal DNS name applications, such as web server, mail server, database server, etc.

A network with DNS Server configured does not have to be a domain (Active Directory) environment because DNS Server have two basic functions: resolve names or store information for Active Directory, or both.

This tutorial is to show you how to install and basically configure DNS Server to resolve DNS Name, and configure DNS Server ready for Active Directory promotion.

To install and configure DNS Server on Windows Server 2003, follow these steps

Content at a glance

  1. Assign a static IP to the server
  2. Add DNS Service on Windows 2003
  3. Select a primary namespace for the server
  4. Create Forward Lookup Zone
  5. Create Reversed Lookup Zone
  6. Verify DNS functionality

1. Assign a static IP to the server

This task is pretty familiar with network administrators at all level. DNS Server requires local server to have a static IP assigned. This static IP of DNS Server plays as a preferred DNS settings on client computer. All clients within the network must configure its preferred DNS Server pointed to the DNS Server IP address.

DNS Server and Clients IP configuration

For example, I will assign my DNS Server this IP address:

Static IP address configuration

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About The Author

Hao Nguyen

Hao Nguyen

Hello! I'm Hao Nguyen and I'm currently working as a Network Engineer for a small firm in Houston. I enjoy writing technical documents and blog, such as


  1. Thai says:

    Hi Hao,

    Your tutorials are great!

  2. Sarabjit Singh says:

    Hello sir, I am trying to install dns server. Actually, I am creating a scenario that contain, one Domain controller, one sepatrate DNS server and one ISA server. ISA server is attached to internet, Domain controller and DNS server will get internet via ISA server. Please help me by explaining, how I should use the ip addresses. ISA server IP address=, Domain Controller IP address is =, and DNS server IP address is = please tell me what to and how to fill in default gateway and in preffered dns in both ad and dns server. I shall be very thankful to you.

    • Hao Nguyen says:

      Hi Sarabjit,

      If you configure your ISA server with 1 interface like that, then your Default Gateway is the internal IP address of the router closest to you. I assume that you’re using DSL router to access internet, and your DSL router internal IP address is You need to configure default gateway on all server (include ISA server) to

      Let me know if you want to configure 2 interfaces on your ISA server. In this case, default gateway configuration is different because you have more than 1 network segment.


  3. Thai says:

    Hello Hao,

    I setup a DNS server (on virtual PC) then promo to DC server as per your tutorial.

    IP address:
    Default Gateway:
    Prefer DSN Server:

    In Active Directory Users and Computer, I created a PC account.

    I then tried to join a XP pc (also on a virtual pc) to the domain server:

    First: The XP pc was setup to Obtain an IP and DNS server automatically.

    Second: The XP pc was setup to Obtain an IP automatically and Preferred DNS server:

    In both cases, I had same error message:

    “A domain controller for the domain could not be contacted. Ensure that the domain name is typed correctly.
    If the name is correct, click Details for troubleshooting information.”

    Could you please explain:

    1. Should I used my default router IP address for default gateway?

    2. What did I miss or do wrong?

    3. Is there any extra steps we need to do on virtual pc to setup a network?



  4. Thai says:

    Hello Hao,

    I wish to withdraw the above comment as it is no longer required.

    I do enjoy your tutorial as it is clear and easy to understand.

    If you could provide more tutorial/lab practical about Network/DNS/DHCP…such as create/configure/modify Domain DNS on a private network. Set up a DHCP/backup/restore in this case….it would be great!


  5. Thai says:

    Too many regards….!!!!

    Unable to modify it.

    What did I do….:))

  6. Rakez says:

    Thank you very much… I have been trying to do this thru youtube videos bt i could not your tutorials are great…

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