Transitioning to all Server 2008 x64 Domain Controllers in a Mixed Domain

I currently have two domain controllers at my location. The PDC is running Server 2008 x64, and the secondary DC is running Server 2003 x86. I want to replace the 2003 DC with a new server running 2008 x64. This will allow me to move away from a mixed mode domain functional level to a 2008 functional level. Here is the process I’m following.

First I’ve backed up the system state on the existing 2003 DC just in case. Next I’ve setup the new server (Dell Poweredge 1950) with Server 2008 x64. I’ve installed all the windows updates and joined it to the domain as a member server.

Next, install the DNS server role to the new server. After that has been installed, create new zones that mirror your current DC’s in DNS. Make sure you set them as secondary zones. Be sure that zone transfers are enabled on each of the zones on the DC you’re copying from. Once this has finished copying all of the entries, set the zones you just created to be the primary zones rather than secondary. This will store a copy locally on the server.

This is a good time to make sure that any folders that you rely on that aren’t being replicated are copied over to the new server. Also, if this server does anything else on it’s own that others rely on, you should set those up on the new server at this time. In my case, I use this DC as a print server so I setup all my printers on the new server. I also converted any shared resources over to the NETLOGON folder so they will now be replicated and I won’t have to back them up. Also, SNMP monitoring needed to be prepared on the new one.

Next, we want to demote the old DC to a member server. If this old DC holds any FSMO roles, please transfer FSMO roles before performing the demotion. In my case, the server doesn’t host any of the FSMO roles. To do this it’s simple, just open a command prompt and type “dcpromo”. This will bring up a wizard that will guide you through the process.

Next you need to remove the old DC from the domain. This means joining it to a workgroup, and removing it’s entry from Active Directory. You’ll also need to change it’s IP address or unplug it from your network. This will let us take it’s old name and use it for our new DC. And that’s the next step. Rename the new DC to the name that the old one was. In my case, this is PDXDC02. Then we want to change it’s IP address to what the old one was. Once this is done, you can run the “dcpromo” command on the new DC and follow the wizard to make it into a domain controller. Since this IS a DC, make sure that “Global Catalog Server” is checked in the options here. (It is by default.)

Once you have everything up to this point completed, you’re basically done, and it should be acting as a basic domain controller replicating DNS and AD. Now you just need to setup anything else you want to run on it like DHCP.

The final step to all of this is to raise the domain functional level to Server 2008. To do this, open up AD and right click on your domain. Then click on “Raise Domain Functional Level”. Select Windows Server 2008 and then click the Raise button. That’s all there is to it! Enjoy your new domain functionality.

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