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contingency Plan for Primary Domain Controller Failure

Calv1n
Calv1n asked
on
Hello All,

I have taken over the position of Network Administrator at my company and I am trying to create some contingency plans for my work in case the worst happens. I have a network implementing active directory. Thank you again for your help as always.

I was wondering what steps I should take if my server that is acting as the primary domain controller which is named NS1 should fail. If some hardware were to breakdown that was not the hard rive, would I be able to take out the hard drive and plop it into another machine and boot it up? Would Windows 2003 Server have problems configuring the new hardware (mobo, proc, etc). Or would it run a lot less reliably?

Also if (God Forbid) the Hard drive were to fail, and I was forced to configure a new server completely. What services would I need to reconfigure to get the server running again? DHCP DNS and configure this thing to be the primary domain controller again. But is there anything I am missing? Or better yet do you know of anything I can use to backup up this machine without rebooting it. (I thought of Norton ghost, but that would require a reboot and buying expensive software.) Is there any export settings feature that I could use in order to import them later if the worst case scenario were to happen? Thank you again!



If this helps with the question, the basic network topology for this network is the following:

Here is a picture of the network structure.


http://static.flickr.com/60/174183996_7534f2238c.jpg?v=0

Here are the roles of the Servers for your knowledge.

NS1:

ROLE:
Primary Domain Controller
DNS Server
DHCP Server

SERVICES RUNNING:
DNS
DHCP

==============
Mail3

ROLE:

Exchange Server

RUNS:
Exchange Server
Secondary DNS

==============
FTP2

ROLE:
FTP Server
RUNS:
FTP Server (WarFTP)

NOTES:
Windows XP Pro

==============

Mail2

ROLE:
Mail Server

RUNS:
Exchange Server (Dormant)

==============

SERVERS BEHIND THE ISA FIREWALL

==============

SQ7Server / ISA Server

ROLE:

ISA Firewall


RUNS:
ISA Server

==============

Web Servers

ROLE:
Internet Server
Database Server

RUNS:
SQL Server
IIS Server


As always thank you for your continued help, this site is my favorite place to gain knowledge!

-Brian
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Technology and Business Process Advisor
Most Valuable Expert 2013
Commented:
Hi Calv1n,
> Hello All,

> I was wondering what steps I should take if my server that is acting
> as the primary domain controller which is named NS1 should fail. If
> some hardware were to breakdown that was not the hard rive, would I be
> able to take out the hard drive and plop it into another machine and
> boot it up? Would Windows 2003 Server have problems configuring the
> new hardware (mobo, proc, etc). Or would it run a lot less reliably?

First, there is no such thing as a Primary Domain Controller in an Active Directory environment.  Every thing is a Domain Controller or Member server (Non-Domain Controller) or workstation.

You should have TWO domain controllers for redundancy.  Each server should be using RAID to protect against single hard disk failures.  Typically, the recommendation is to mirror the C: drive.

Windows does not take hardware changes kindly.  You may be able to transfer the disk to a different set of hardware, but if it's not using the same controller and the same chipset, you'll probably be spending time trying to get the system to boot... then I wouldn't trust it to run reliably.  This is why you buy servers from major vendors so that components are easily replaced.  You have redundant servers to protect against failure. You buy identical models (for example, Dell PowerEdge 2850's; the actual CPU/RAM amounts can vary) so that you can easily swap things around when needed.

(in your next post, you said you're fresh out of school - I'm guessing you didn't go to technical classes - or the school was awful - because the terminology you've used seems to be lacking some basic knowledge that a good technical school would have taught).

> Also if (God Forbid) the Hard drive were to fail, and I was forced to
> configure a new server completely. What services would I need to
> reconfigure to get the server running again? DHCP DNS and configure
> this thing to be the primary domain controller again. But is there
> anything I am missing? Or better yet do you know of anything I can use
> to backup up this machine without rebooting it. (I thought of Norton
> ghost, but that would require a reboot and buying expensive software.)
> Is there any export settings feature that I could use in order to import
> them later if the worst case scenario were to happen? Thank you again!

Again, redundant servers and RAID make the odds of this low.  BUT, that said, that's why you make backups regularly.

You want to know what do and what you will do, go build yourself a test network and simulate these problems.  I cannot stress enough how important knowing your plan is and knowing it will work.  

You're not necessarily asking about backup in this question, but based on some of your questions here, it probably wouldn't hurt suggesting you read my comment on backup - available at my web site:
http://www.lwcomputing.com/tips/static/backup.asp



Cheers!