Is there any difference between Domain controller and Active directory?

Solution 1:

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.

Solution 2:

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.

Solution 3:

Without Active Directory, every computer on the network has its own small database of usernames and passwords. Microsoft calls this kind of set up a WORKGROUP, that is, every computer on its own and there is no central control. This creates a challenge when you have many computers and a user needs to access one of them or when he changes his password or username. Active Directory keeps a centralized store of usernames and passwords. Any changes to usernames and passwords are recorded by Active Directory and all computers on the network have access to this information. Hence Active Directory;

  • Is essentially a database
  • Provides centralized control
  • Records all password changes
  • Can be distributed across the world
  • Stores resources like Printers and share folders
  • Services like Email can use Active Directory

Solution 4:

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.