What is the Difference between Role and Feature in Windows Server

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A lot of times you would find people confused over what is the difference between role and Feature in Windows Server .


Lets make it more clear today .

Server Roles as per Technet is : “Server role is a set of software programs that, when they are installed and properly configured, lets a computer perform a specific function for multiple users or other computers within a network. Generally, roles share the following characteristics.”


  • They describe the primary function, purpose, or use of a computer. A specific computer can be dedicated to perform a single role that is heavily used in the enterprise, or may perform multiple roles if each role is only lightly used in the enterprise.
  • They provide users throughout an organization access to resources managed by other computers, such as Web sites, printers, or files that are stored on different computers.
  • They typically include their own databases that can queue user or computer requests, or record information about network users and computers that relates to the role. For example, Active Directory Domain Services includes a database for storing the names and hierarchical relationships of all computers in a network.
  • As soon as they are properly installed and configured, roles function automatically. This allows the computers on which they are installed to perform prescribed tasks with limited user commands or supervision.

So , a role can be treated as a bigger function that lets a Computer perform a specific function .


A list of Server roles are :

  • Windows AD/DC Server,
  • DNS,
  • DHCP,
  • File,
  • Print,
  • NAP,
  • Terminal Server,
  • IIS,
  • WDS,
  • WSS


Feature : on the other hand feature are add ons which can support or augment the functionality of one or more roles, or improve the functionality of the server, regardless of which roles are installed.


A list of Features in Server are :


  • .NET,
  • Bitlocker Encryption,
  • BITS,
  • Remote Assistance,
  • SMTP Server,
  • SNMP,
  • telnet server & client,
  • failover,
  • NLB,
  • TFTP,
  • Windows Server Backup,
  • WINS, 
  • Powershell

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