Dilemma upgrading to SBS2003.

Posted on 2005-03-02
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2010-04-19
I have the following situation - we have a server running Windows Backoffice Server 4.0 and another server running Windows NT 4.0.  The Backoffice Server is the PDC and the NT server is a BDC.  We just purchased a new server with SBS2003 on it and my intention is to move everything over to the new server and "forklift" it in one evening.  My dilemma is that I need to keep the existing BDC online as it is running a critical app that can't be moved.  What is the best way to approach this?

- Can I set up the new server in a new domain and create a trust relationship to the existing domain?  I don't think I can do this with SBS2003.
- Can I set up the new server in a new domain and have the existing BDC join the new domain?  I think I could do this if the existing BDC were a member server and not a DC.
- Can I set up the new server in the existing domain as the PDC after taking the existing PDC offline?

Thanks in advance for any help you can provide.
Question by:navarac
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Accepted Solution

mbr1971 earned 672 total points
ID: 13444967

Sorry to provide so many negatives...

A major functionality change with SBS 2003 is that there are NO trusts; so you can't create a trust relationship with the old domain.  

I don't think an NT 4.0 BDC (or PDC) can be joined to the SBS Domain either.  If I remember correctly, an NT 4.0 server cannot be demoted from a DC role to a member server role without a rebuild.

As to the final point, sbs does not operate in a mode which supports domain controllers below windows 2000. So your BDC is in trouble...

I'm afraid to say there is no migration path for that situation.

Can the application be installed on a Windows 2000 or 2003 server? If so, a SBS 2003 CAL covers a member server without the need for additional CALS, so you would only need to purchase Windows Server 2003 Standard edition without additional CALS.

Hope this helps,


LVL 85

Assisted Solution

oBdA earned 664 total points
ID: 13444990
1 and 3 can't be done at all. SBS doesn't support trusts, and it needs to be the domain root.
You basically can't join your NT4 BDC to the new domain either, as you can't demote a BDC. Officially, that is.
What you could try, though, is to use UPromote, which will let you demote your BDC to a member server, which you should then be able to join to the new domain.
As usual: Make sure you have a working backup before you try this.
UPromote: Promote your NT Server to a Domain Controller

Author Comment

ID: 13445904
I think I'm leaning toward trying the "demote the BDC and then join it to the new SBS2003 domain."  I actually wasn't sure if this were possible either because I thought I had read that you couldn't have a bdc in a SBS2003 network.  (The idea being that SBS2003 was designed for small networks with no need for additional servers.)

Here's another thought...
 - what if I promote the current NT4 BDC to PDC and demote the current PDC to BDC.
 - upgrade the NT4 box to Windows 2000 Server or above
 - run dcpromo to demote the server to a standalone server
 - join the new SBS2003 domain

LVL 15

Assisted Solution

harleyjd earned 664 total points
ID: 13446549
Can you use ADMT to migrate accounts and computers to the new SBS box, and do the promo/upgrade/dcpromo thing to the app box?

ADMT is cool...

LVL 85

Expert Comment

ID: 13447689
That approach should work, too. Just make sure that your application will run properly on Windows 2000.
But before you actually start: What is the reason that the application can't be moved? Is it in any way tied to the hardware, or some machine specific setting (as copy protection)? If so, you should contact the developers and query about possible problems when upgrading, renaming, or demoting the machine, or joining it to another domain.

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