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Changing from an NT 4.0 Domain to a Windows 2003 Domain.

diablo-26 asked
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2010-04-18

I work at a school and currently we have an old NT 4.0 Server as a PDC in the Freedom domain.

We only have about 50 users on it because we have just generic logins, not individual logins.

We have 7 Windows 2003 servers that are installed into this FREEDOM domain, none of them are set to be domain controllers.

If I wanted to switch control of the domain to a 2003 domain, which I want to do by just typing in those 50 users on the 2003 side...  I don't want to do a migrate, not just for 50 users.

So would I just type all of those users into one of my 2003 servers and then shutdown the NT 4.0 PDC and then assign the PDC role to one of the 2003 machines?  What can I expect to happen?  Will it propogate those users to the other 2003 servers automatically, or only if I make them BDC's?

Any help would be appreciated.   Kind of a wierd situtation... we have very old mixing with brand new.  But I would really like to do this switchover because NT is a lot more susceptible to virus attacks and what not than 2003.


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If the current PDC doesn't have the hardware to take being a Windows 2003 DC, try this...

Add a server to the domain that would be capable of running Windows 2003 as a DC, but load it up with Windows NT 4.0 as a BDC.

Promote this new BDC to PDC

Wait for all BDCs to sync with the new PDC.

Take ONE BDC offline entirely - power down and disconnect from the network jsut to be sure.

Upgrade the new PDC to Windows 2003

Dumb as it sounds, it works.

If things go horribly wrong, remove the new PDC/Windows 2003 DC and put the offline BDC on the LAN again and promote to PDC to roll back the domain



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I'll do whatever works and is the easiest to pull off.  Just not sure if these Dell PowerEdge rack servers will take NT 4.0 or not...  I have one to play with, it doesn't have much on it.

Would a 2003 Domain cause any problems with our Windows 98 clients which we have maybe about 1/4 of the machines in our HS and MS are still Windows 98.   Everything else is XP.   Like should they just log in without noticing a difference?

Our FQDN is freedom.k12.pa.us, but isn't there a section where you name the domain for Pre-Windows 2000 machines?  I want to keep that just FREEDOM because all the clients will be looking for that domain name.

Also, I have a Windows 2003 server that we're running an attendance package on.  It has about 30 Users added to it who connect via terminal services.  These are NOT the same usernames that reside on the NT 4.0 PDC.   If I make one of the 2003 servers the PDC with the old NT box's 60 some users on it and then it replicates to this attedance server is that going to mess things all up?  Cause that attendance machine is a member of the FREEDOM domain as well.

I'm just worried about the trickle down effects since I haven't really dealt with 2003 domains that much.

Thanks so much for your help,


The Dell PowerEdge boxes I've dealt with work well witn NT4. Your mileage may vary, and you'll want the drivers for the RAID controllers and SCSI cards on floppy before you start. Fortunately, Dell's site tends to be good in this regard.

While Windows 2003 Server deals much better with Windows XP clients than any NT4 domain could hope for, windows 98 clients may have some issues if you don't maintain a WINS environment. You can use whatever name you want for the domain name, but it should inherent the current NetBIOS name during the promotion of the NT4 PDC.

For Win98 systems, there's an active directory add-on you'll want to install on those clients. It's on Microsoft's download site still.

You'll also want (read: have) to keep the domain in mixed mode until -all- NT domain controllers are gone.

Upgrading the domain changes the security model, but from what I've read of your environment I don't see any ill effects. In any event, keeping one BDC offline until the upgrade is complete and confirmed fully functional gives you a rollback to the current environment if need be.


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