Correcting a corrupted computer account

For the most part, the domain account for a client computer is self-maintaining. However, from time to time, especially in very large domain networks, the account becomes disjoined or otherwise fails to function properly. This typically is symptomatic of being unable to use a specific client to log into the domain with a valid domain user account.

If you suspect that the computer account of a client computer is missing, corrupt, or otherwise behaving badly, you can follow the following procedure to restore the functionality. However, you should take note that you need to perform the entire list of steps, stopping after the account reset action will not correct the problem. Resetting the computer account changes the secret password used by the computer to log into the domain, without re-connecting to the domain, there is no other mechanism to tell the client system what its new domain password is.

You must be a Domain Administrator, Enterprise Administrator, or have the appropriate delegated permissions in order to perform this action. Also, this can be used on any system except for a domain controller.

  1. Reset the computer account. There are two methods:
    1. Open the Active Directory Users and Computers MMC snap-in, then locate the computer account. The account is in the Computers container by default, but if it is not there, check your OUs. Right-click on the computer account name, then select Reset from the

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    1. pop-up menu.
    2. Open the Command Prompt, then type "dsmod computer <computername> -reset", replacing the <computername> placeholder with the correct name of your failing system.
  1. Now that the account is reset, you must leave then re-join the domain:
    1. Right–click over My Computer, then select Properties from the pop-up menu.
    2. On the Computer Name tab, click Change.
    3. Select Workgroup, then click OK.
    4. Reboot the computer.
    5. Right–click over My Computer, then select Properties from the pop-up menu.
    6. On the Computer Name tab, click Change.
    7. Select Domain, provide the correct domain name then click OK.
    8. Reboot the computer.
  2. Log onto the domain using a domain user account to verify the process completed successfully.

James Michael Stewart is a partner and researcher for ITinfopros, a technology-focused writing and training organization.

This was first published in October 2004

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