A domain is a group of computers on a network that can be centrally administered with a shared set of rules. Domains may be part of a local area network (LAN), a wide area network (WAN), or a virtual private network (VPN). Servers, known as domain controllers, manage users and user groups for every computer connected to their domains and are often used to manage large enterprise networks.

Domains can help map a company's organizational structure to its network by creating domains for individual departments, divisions, or regions. Users in a domain may log in to any workstation in their domain. Administrators can assign users to user groups and choose what resources those users and groups may access. For example, you can configure a domain so that one set of computers, printers, phones, and shared folders is available to all users, while another set of resources is limited to a single user group.

Domain controllers also enforce security policies and firewalls across a network and can restrict incoming or outgoing network traffic. Many domain controllers also act as DNS servers for their domains. They can assign hostnames to individual computers for identification instead of (or in addition to) IP addresses.

Domains and network workgroups are similar, as both provide access to computers and resources within the group. However, workgroups are decentralized and do not rely on a server or domain controller.

Domain controller software can run on several different platforms. Windows Server Active Directory is one of the most popular domain controllers, included as a component in the Windows Server operating system. Unix and Linux-based servers can use Samba Domain Controller, which is available as part of the Samba software suite.

Updated May 25, 2023 by Brian P.

quizTest Your Knowledge

Which of the following statements best describes cryptography?

It is the science of protecting information by transforming it into a secure format.
It is a structured way of implementing data redundancy.
It is a type of hacking that bypasses traditional authentication methods.
It is the study of how digital data transmissions affect geographic areas.
Correct! Incorrect!     View the Cryptography definition.
More Quizzes →

The Tech Terms Computer Dictionary

The definition of Domain on this page is an original definition written by the team. If you would like to reference this page or cite this definition, please use the green citation links above.

The goal of is to explain computer terminology in a way that is easy to understand. We strive for simplicity and accuracy with every definition we publish. If you have feedback about this definition or would like to suggest a new technical term, please contact us.

Sign up for the free TechTerms Newsletter

How often would you like to receive an email?

You can unsubscribe or change your frequency setting at any time using the links available in each email.

Questions? Please contact us.