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Best way to upgrate from NT4 Domain to AD Domain?

Posted on 2008-10-10
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Last Modified: 2010-05-18
I have an old box running as my PDC with NT4.  I am trying to decide if I need to use the ADMT.  

Here is my plan.  Take the new server that is going to be my 2003 DC and load NT4 on it and set it up as a BDC.  Next Promote this new box to be the PDC and take the old box offline.  Do an in place upgrade on the new PDC to 2003.

Am I on the right track here?  Do I need ADMT for anything?

Thanks!
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Question by:trsman
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by:Andres Perales
ID: 22688763
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by:tigermatt
ID: 22688956
That is the usual track you have to use. I've not actually completed an NT4 - 2003 migration myself but from past dealings that is generally the easiest method to take.

The other option is to simply do an in-place upgrade direct on your existing NT4 box to 2003, but this means you'll get all of its applications, old settings configured over the years etc. migrated over with it - not to mention with the existing PDC is powerful enough!

The only time you use ADMT is when you are looking to migrate to a brand new domain and you need to migrate user accounts over. Not for an upgrade within the same Active Directory domain.

-tigermatt
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by:trsman
ID: 22689545
Tigermatt.

Thanks for the understanding of the ADMT.  My existing NT$ PDC is old and I don't want it to be the new AD DC, that is why I am thinking about taking the new server and installing NT4 to it as a BDC first, then promoting it to the PDC and doing  a in place upgrade with the old DC there incase everything blows up :)
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Lee W, MVP earned 500 total points
ID: 22690144
I would suggest a slightly different approach.

START with a TEST in Virtual Machines.

1.  Install NT4 as a bdc in a Virtual Machine (VMWare Server & ESXi, Virtual PC, Virtual Server are all free).  
2.  BACKUP this virtual machine file (the VHD) AND disconnect it from your network.
3.  Promote the VM to your PDC and now upgrade as a test.  IF there are any quirks about your network, they will hopefully surface and you can research and correct them.  If not, then you learn what to expect when you ACTUALLY upgrade your network.  win-win.
4.  Restore the backed up VHD (as the BDC) but keeping another backup of it (burn it to a DVD should be fine - you're keeping this backup JUST IN CASE anything goes wrong - you can drop it back in the network and promote it to PDC effectively restoring your NT4 only domain).  Then promote it to PDC of the PRODUCTION network.  
5.  UPGRADE the PRODUCTION network by upgrading the VM.  Why?  Here's a two important reasons:
    a) NT4 is old - a physical machine could present MANY driver problems, especially network driver problems and delay or even make impossible your attempt to setup the new physical server as an NT4 BDC.  VMs emulate old and common network cards that should have drivers built in (Virtual PC definitely works great with built in NT4 drivers).
    b) NT4 has a limit of a 4 GB C: drive (7.8 if you preformat the hard disk) or it won't boot.  Now, I'm a big proponent of not oversizing your hard disk, but for 2003, 4 GB is insanely low and 7.8 is pushing your luck - I typically recommend 12-20 GB for C:  (People don't usually think about this one).
6.  Once upgraded, install the new server, promote it to DC, migrate DNS and the FMSO roles (and global catalog) over to the new physical server, and then demote the VM.  Once the VM is demoted, you can remove it from the network and now your new physical server doesn't have that limited C: drive.
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by:trsman
ID: 22690948
Wow Lee, This is a new approach, well slightly different from what i have read before.

Ok, so are you saying in step 2 and 3 to promote the BDC VM to PDC while it is disconnected from the network?  If I do it while connect it will demote my old one right?

I sure am glad you posted this.  I had to read it 5 times and had to really think about it to grasp it all.  It makes sense, as I have never thought about the c: partition limit.

Thanks

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by:Lee W, MVP
ID: 22691097
Step 3 and PART of step 2 are done explicitly to create a TEST network so that you can run through the upgrade process WITHOUT TOUCHING your production network.  It allows you to get a feel for the process and POSSIBLY catch any issues that may otherwise arise when you do it for real in your production network.  Because you remove the BDC VM from the production network, once you promote it to PDC it WILL NOT affect the existing network - the current network PDC STAYS the PDC during the test.  Follow my thinking?
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