Rejoin computer to domain remotely

From time to time you’ll come across the problem where a system’s machine account in active directory has either become out of sync (Usually due to multiple systems with the same name) or has just been deleted somehow! Telltale signs of this are errors about domain’s being unavailable, and trust relationships failing whenever the system tries to perform any authentication. In these situations you can usually log in as a local administrator, unjoin/rejoin the domain, then reboot and the problem is sorted.

However, this isn’t so easy if you aren’t in front of the system (which is often the case), although it is possible to do:

First you need to locate the IP address of the system (Names will be unreliable if you’ve got multiple systems with the same name!). The best way to find the IP is probably from looking at DHCP leases on your DHCP server. Once you have the IP address, run regedit.exe on another system, then from the file menu select ‘Connect remote registry’. In the following box, connect to \\<IPaddress>. You should then be able to log on to the system as the local admin user (SYSTEMNAME\Administrator), you should then be able to navigate to:

HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Terminal Server

In this key, look for the ‘fDenyTSConnection’ value, and set this to 0. This should enable remote desktop if it isn’t already, you’ll need to reboot in order to enable this:

shutdown -m \\<IPAddress> -r

Once the system has rebooted, you should be able to remote desktop to it, log in as the local admin user, and rejoin as if you were in front of it. Although if it was a case of multiple systems with the same name, don’t forget to give it a unique name!

I should also point out that if it was a deleted computer account, you could always restore the object in AD, but that’s another story…


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