NT4 Migration to Server 2003

Microsoft Windows
SQL Server
Here is the scenario: I?ve got an old NT4 PDC in place with about 600 users. This machine is very old, and will not upgrade to 2003. I have a brand new Windows 2003 Server. Keeping in mind I do not want to wipe this new machine and install NT4. I need to replace the NT4 PDC with this new 2003 Server as the AD DC. Caveats: I cannot afford any down time, I do not want to install NT4 on the new server that already has 2003 running on it A suggestion I received and began working on: Bring another NT4 Server on line, A spare machine, that has the hardware to handle 2003, and set it as the BDC to synchronize the user accounts, then upgrade this machine. Now if I understand the process correctly, I will need to promote this NEW NT4 BDC to be the PDC, and then upgrade it. As 2003 wants to upgrade the PDC first Does my original NT4 PDC automatically get demoted to BDC? in the case I encounter problems and have to back out. My thoughts are as such: If I can get this spare NT4 machine up and running with 2003 as the DC with AD. Then I can add my brand new 2003 server to the domain, and promote it to DC thus replicating the accounts, and then bring the spare (which was the NT4 BDC, was promoted then upgraded) and the original NT4 off?line? Is this totally confusing or what? Your thought?s and suggestions are welcome and appreciated

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Your plan should work fine. After you promote the new server (BDC) to a PDC you could simply take the old server off line as it really is not needed at this point. You’ll be able to migrate everything from the new W2K3 DC once it’s up and running. If you leave the old server on line following the upgrade you will have to set your Domain Functional Level to mixed mode in order to support the BDC. Shutting it down will allow you to up the functional level to native which will make your migration much easier to complete.

Not sure how you will get around the no downtime issue. The upgrade will shut your network down during the time it takes to complete. Leaving the BDC up during the upgrade will not help as the BDC would need to be promoted to a PDC to handle logons which would confuse your upgrade process. Guess your looking at a weekend project.

Good Luck!

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  • Samiram
    Hello, I think the best thing to do is to configure the new 2003 server manulally as a primary AD. And then create the users on it.(By using a tool like addusers.exe) Then remove the old one. Its little bit harder but its error free. Upgrading is taking lot of time and can give seriis errors. And the down time will be less than 1 mint.(to unplug the old one and plug the new one) Thanks.
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  • TheVyrys
    Petroleumman is exactly right in his answer. Samirim is also correct. If you wanted to create a whole new domain/AD, you would have to add the users, but you would also have more time to configure your groups, group policies, OU's, etc. This likely makes for a more error free transition, but you will have to join each computer to the new domain, which does take a little time, and also changes the profile on everyones workstation if running 2000/XP, causing them to re-create shortcuts, settings, etc,. and in some cases you may have to re-install software. Definitely a consideration with 600 users, but I chose to do this with 200 users and it wasn't bad. You did say 'users' not 'computers' so if a lot of the users share computers, then it would be even less time consuming. I had both old and new domains running for a couple of months while I tested and configured everything. I set up some test workstations and user accounts and the like. It was nice to verify the logons, run all updates, get drivers and hardware in place, etc....but most of all I was able to test my disaster recovery plan for the new domain a couple of times and document the exact procedures and downtime expected. All this is pretty much invisible to the other domain. Everyone kept right on working on the old domain until the Friday night I started making the transistion. My accounting department said they wanted to work Saturday, so Friday evening before they left, I shut down the old DHCP service and activated/authorized the new DHCP service on the 2003 server and began. I joined them to the new domain in a few minutes. Monday morning came and everyone else was joined and ready. I previously gave each department a generic password and forced them to change it upon first login. For the next few days I helped with shortcuts and stuff, but it was smooth as silk. No upgrade issues or tense moments wondering if the network was going to operate correctly. After a couple of days, I took down the old servers/domain. I am the only IT person here, so if you have help, or can get help during the joining process it will speed things up....but it wasn't bad anyway. Actually, I only came in on Sunday to double check some things. You can upgrade either way....they both have their advantages/disadvantages...it just depends on your situation and preference. Good luck!
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  • TedRizzi
    You have two choices, one is create a new domain structure with AD, and migrate your users to it. or. you can creat an empty root domain (2003) which will set up your globl catalog and your AD domain structure and your schema, dns etc. you can then install nt4 on the new server,install it as the bdc on the existing nt4 domain. then promote it to the PDC. then you can do a inplace upgrade to windows 2003 server on that machine, and during that process join the empty root domain as a child domain. there is a lot more to it than I just outlined, but this is not a course on how to migrate your nt4 domain to AD. I just outlined the basic steps.
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