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Reinstalling a w2003 server while keeping users and profiles...

Posted on 2007-07-25
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2010-04-20

I have a w2003 domain controller which has been updated from win2000 years ago and surely contains a lot of clutter.  As secondary DC I have a w2003R2-sp2.  I want to try to copy all user profiles and home folders to the secondary DC and promote it to primary DC and enable its DNS and DHCP servers.  Then I will denote the former PDC, take it offline and install w2003R2-sp2 from scratch, promote it as PDC and copy all user data over to it again.

The user profiles are inaccessible to me as administrator.  Will this be a problem when trying to copy them?  Both the profile folder and the home folders are on \\server-a\e and they should be copied to \\server-b\e.  Do you suggest using robocopy?  And what will the commandline look like in this case?

After copying the user profiles and home folders, I plan to edit the user accounts' profile- and home folder paths to point to the new server.  Does this make sense?  Any pitfalls here and other stuff I need to do in order to have the secondary DC be able to serve as a standalone PDC while I take the original DC down for reinstalling?

Does it exist other more elegant ways to completely reinstall a w2003 server and keep / restore the user accounts, profiles and home folders?

Thanks a lot for advice and comments


Question by:geir056
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LVL 51

Expert Comment

ID: 19565728
Take ownership of the Profile folder and all subfiles and folders.

Use Robocopy - absolutely.

Edit the user's properties to point to the new server - yes.  You can select all users and do it at once if your profile folders match the usernames.

Make sure to transfer the 5 FSMO roles plus make the R2 server a Global Catalog.

Install DNS - do nothing more - replication should create a populate the zones.

Install DHCP and create the same scope with DNS pointing to the R2 server.  Authorize it, but don't activate the scope until you shut off the other server.

Unfortunately, unless you're using DFS and replicas, this is the only way to move the contents.

It's slow and a little painful but it works.

Author Comment

ID: 19566164
Thanks for the comments!

>Take ownership of the Profile folder and all subfiles and folders.
Does thie mean that admin wil be owner of these forever?  Any side-effects of this?

>Use Robocopy - absolutely.
Which command line and parameters should I use, I want to be absolutely sure that I get everything right...

>Make sure to transfer the 5 FSMO roles plus make the R2 server a Global Catalog.
Please elaborate more, not sure how to do these operations.

Thanks again ;-)

best wishes

LVL 51

Expert Comment

ID: 19567585
Yes, the admin will be owner and no, it shouldn't cause any issues.

Running robocopy /? should give you the switches - they're pretty self-explanitory.

Follow this for role transfer:


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Author Comment

ID: 19569062
OK thanks.  Just to confirm, will the robocopy commandline look like this:

robocopy \\sourceserver\e \\targetserver\e /E / COPYALL
(drive e on both servers contains the profiles and homedirs)

Please correct it if I'm missing something.

The petri article explains transferring of the RID Master, PDC Emulator, Infrastructure Masters, Domain Naming Master and Schema Master.  Is the order of transfer important?

I did not find any article explaining how to transferring the Global Catalog though.

Do I run DCPROMO after or before transferring the fsmo stuff?

Do I run DCPROMO on the 'target (R2)' or the 'source' DC to make it the only DC on the subnet for a while??

Thanks for comments on these issues and I think I will have enough info to safely run through this.  Thanks for helping me out!


LVL 51

Expert Comment

ID: 19569448
Order of transfer isn't important, no.  But don't forget any of them.

You don't transfer the GC, you make the new one a GC from within AD Sites and Services.  Select the server on the left pane and right click NTDS settings on the right to get the checkbox exposed.

You must run DCPROMO first, to make the new server a DC, then transfer the roles and make it a GC.

Once everything is off the old server, run DCPROMO to remove it from the domain.

Author Comment

ID: 19570020
Great, now I have about everything clear.  Could you just confirm or correct the robocopy command line above...?


LVL 51

Accepted Solution

Netman66 earned 2000 total points
ID: 19571262
robocopy \\sourceserver\e \\destinationserver\e /E /COPYALL


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