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I've got an issue with my home network - I have a DDWRT router running as a gateway and primary DHCP/DNS Server on 192.168.1.1 and a Windows Server 2008 machine running as a domain controller and secondary DNS/DHCP server on 192.168.1.12.

I'm trying to connect a second server to the domain but it says a domain controller for the domian domain.local cannot be contacted. I've set a static IP on the machine of 192.168.1.2, a subnet mask of 255.255.255.0 and gateway of 192.168.1.1. Primary DNS server is set to 192.168.1.1 and secondary is 192.168.1.12 - is this the reason, do I need the DC as the primary DNS server?

The reason I am doing it like is this that the router is on all the time assigning IP addresses and providing internet but the domain controller only gets turned on when I'm working in the home lab - it's probably somthing elementary but I'm still not quite 100% with DNS.

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Do you really mean primary and secondary DNS (where the secondary is slave to the primary and doing zone transfers) or do you just have two DNS servers, that you configure separately? –  Paul May 23 '12 at 13:41

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Active directory uses DNS internally for various service discovery features; I believe it will query the secondary DNS only if the primary does not respond.

There isn't really a system of "secondary" DHCP, what happens is that the first of the two to respond wins, and they don't have to respect each other's allocations.

Make the DC the only DNS server for your second server. Turn off DHCP on the DC. AD does rather assume that your DC is on all the time .. do you have other machines which are joined to its domain?

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