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NT 4.0 to Win2003 R2 Upgrade Question.

Posted on 2006-11-17
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Last Modified: 2010-08-05
We currently are going to be upgrading our environment to a Win2003 domain from an NT4 domain.

We obviously have no Active directory etc.

Network info:  

4 win 2003 STD Servers
1 win 2000 STD Server
2 winNT 4.0 servers
75 Client machines Running Win2000 and XP

We have the WinNT doing the PDC and the other doing BDC.  Here are some questions I have.

Is it better to upgrade from NT4.0 to Win2003R2 Directly?  Or would it be better to go from NT4 to 2000 to 2003.  We need to setup DNS, WINS, DHCP, and Active directory on our new 2003 machine.

My preffered method I assume would be going right up to 2003 from NT and skipping the 2000 step

I have also installed an NT4 box on some hardware that I can upgrade to 2003 or 2000 of course.  This way I don't need to worry about domain name changing etc.  I plan on making this hardware my PDC and demoting the other NT4 (current PDC) to BDC.  Then doing the in place upgrade to Win2003 on this box.

We also have a win2003R2 Box with all new hardware that is installed and ready to takeover for the upgraded 2003box.  We will then transfer all services to this unit and demote the other to BDC and then out of the domain completely.  along with both NT4 boxes we currently use.  This won't happen instantly so I assume we'll be running mixed mode for awhile maybe.

Other than the question above can anyone offer guidance on if you think this should work OK or what I should try or do differently then listed.  I plan to do this upgrade over thanksgiving next week.

Thanks for your suggestions/help
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Question by:rox5488
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oBdA earned 500 total points
ID: 17968255
Install W2k3 on the new hardware, setup a DNS server with a forward lookup zone of your new AD domain name, and use this on your PDC and your clients (DNS is *vital* for AD, check the articles below!).
Install NT4 Server as stand-alone on the temporary hardware, upgrade to 2003 to make sure everything will run okay; install again as BDC.
Promote the temporary BDC to PDC, shutdown one BDC as backup
Upgrade the PDC to 2003 (don't install DNS during dcpromo, this machine will only be a temporary DC).
dcpromo the new DC to be the second DC after the upgraded PDC.
Transfer the FSMO roles to the new DC, make it a global catalog. dcpromo down the temporary PDC.
Transfer any other roles to the new machine.
Since you have a lot of machines running W2k or later, you might want to set the "NT4Emulator" registry entry on each DC (as described below) *before* you run the upgrade; not (only) to prevent the overloading, but also to prevent your W2k/XP machines to recognize the domain as AD domain and change their logon behaviour (just in case you want to go back to NT4). You'll need the "NeutralizeNT4Emulator" on the DCs as well, because they need to recognize your domain as AD domain.
As usual: Make sure you have working backups, and try the method that's best for you in a lab environment before starting in your production domain.
If your hardware doesn't support W2k3, use Virtual Server (but not on the DC-to-be!) to create an additional BDC that you then promote to PDC and upgrade as above.

How to prevent overloading on the first domain controller during domain upgrade
http://support.microsoft.com/?kbid=298713

For a test setup and/or as interim DC for an upgrade:
Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 R2
http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserversystem/virtualserver/default.mspx

How To View and Transfer FSMO Roles in Windows Server 2003
http://support.microsoft.com/?kbid=324801

And you want to make sure your DNS settings are correct:
Frequently Asked Questions About Windows 2000 DNS and Windows Server 2003 DNS
http://support.microsoft.com/?kbid=291382

Best practices for DNS client settings in Windows 2000 Server and in Windows Server 2003
http://support.microsoft.com/?kbid=825036

And some other links that might be useful:
Tools and Documentation for Upgrading to Windows Server 2003
http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserver2003/upgrading/nt4/tooldocs/default.mspx

Background Information for Upgrading to Windows Server 2003 Active Directory
http://www.microsoft.com/resources/documentation/windowsserv/2003/all/deployguide/en-us/dssbe_upnt_huxa.asp

Migrating Windows NT Server 4.0 Domains to Windows Server 2003 Active Directory
http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserver2003/evaluation/whyupgrade/nt4/nt4domtoad.mspx
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by:rox5488
ID: 17968402
oBdA

Thanks for this quick response.  very helpful.

I have not yet tried to upgrade NT4 to 2003.  I have installed NT4 and Win 20003 on the Temp box but didn't try an upgrade.  I should try that... Good tip!

I do have a question.  On the first note there...  I have the OS installed on the new Hardware (which will be the new PDC eventually) and you mention to setup the DNS on that server as opposed to the installing DNS while doing DCpromo.

Just so I understand...  I will setup DNS on that box and then point my 2 NT boxes (spare one offline) and all my Win2003 servers to start using these DNS settings PRIOR to upgrading the domain?  Right?  So in a sense I will change the DNS in the NT4 domain first... Then do the upgrade.
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Expert Comment

by:oBdA
ID: 17968720
Yes, that's the best way. Since the upgraded box will only be a temporary DC, there's no point in installing DNS on it, only to then move it to another machine; this would only create additional work without any benefit.
These articles applies to W2k3 as well, and might help:

Setting Up the Domain Name System for Active Directory
http://support.microsoft.com/?kbid=237675

The Domain Name System name recommendations for Small Business Server 2000 and Windows Small Business Server 2003
http://support.microsoft.com/?kbid=296250
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