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NT4 system partition cloning-effects of NOT using sysprep

Posted on 2004-04-17
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2012-06-22
hello all-

i just upgraded an old NT4 box that was still running a 40gb drive with a FAT32 system partition at 2gb. this is the primary domain controller for a small (12 users) office.

my upgrade was basically a new 80gb drive with an 8gb NTFS system partition.

for a little background on the steps i took:

on another box running W2KPro, i installed the new 80GB drive and partitioned out 8gb as FAT32, and 35gb, 5gb, 32-ish GB as NTFS. i pulled the 40gb master drive from the NT4 box, popped it into this W2KPro box as a slave. booted into W2KPro, i then ghosted the 2gb FAT partition to another external drive. then i restored the image to the new 8GB FAT32.

note: i'm not sure if i could have ghosted the FAT32 image to an NTFS partition, hence the FAT32->FAT32. the convert command didnt take that long, so i figured i'd save myself a potential headache.

so, as inferred above, i ran c:\> convert e: /fs:ntfs (where e: was the 8GB FAT32 partition i just restored from a ghost image)

i pulled the new 80GB drive from the W2KPro box and put it back in the NT4 box as PRI-MAS. hit the power button and everything booted up fine.

so, my question is: what are the ramifications of not running sysprep.exe as ms suggests?

i noted a line in the sysprep readme.doc that specifically stated that sysprep is NOT for use with a primary domain controller.  this is what prompted me to see what happened by cloning on another machine.

any insights as to why i should not trust this partition now will be welcome. thanks.
Question by:cudaboy_71
  • 2

Accepted Solution

eric888 earned 150 total points
ID: 10852240
i make it a point to never clone a server.  i use ghost and ghostwalker for everything else.  i think you would have been better off just to back up everything and load w2k server (if that's an option) as a fresh install.  i know budgets are tight these days though.

i know, it's the same pc, just with a bigger hard drive.  if you're going to format that old 40gb drive, then i'd say you'll probably be alright, but Microsoft doesn't fully support it, as far as i know.  this is from an old (1998) Microsoft white paper...


Domain Controllers
Microsoft does not support cloning Windows NT/2000 Servers that are already configured as domain controllers (this includes Primary and Backup domain controllers for Windows NT version 4.0).

Note In the case of Windows 2000, Microsoft does support disk duplication of Windows 2000 Servers (using the System Preparation Tool) as long as it is done before the system is promoted to a Domain Controller.

here's an old EE topic:

here's a symantec page regarding cloning NT and W2K Server:

i hope this helps
LVL 16

Assisted Solution

by:Joseph Nyaema
Joseph Nyaema earned 100 total points
ID: 10852986
The partition should be fine, unless of course the new drive is damaged.

I have personally cloned several servers including NT4 Server, and Win 2K Server, and have never had any problems.

Author Comment

ID: 10854381
thanks for the comments and links.

yes, i made the owner aware that NT4 support will be dropped by MS at the end of this year and he will have to upgrade to w2k3 server soon (not so much because NT4 will break or MS support is so valuable, but because most likely his application vendors will not release an NT4 version) but, at this time, an $80 fix was more to his liking than a $1200 fix.

i fully tested all the applications used by the domain members and everything seems to run fine. i was just curious if anyone knew of specific problems i might run in to by cloning a server.

to me it sounds like its just not supported--but otherwise fine.

i'll wait a day or so to see if anyone else has any ideas before closing the thread. thanks again.

Expert Comment

ID: 11035582
a closed question with no points would have been better than a "C" grade

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