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Renaming a internal domain to match the External Domain

Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2013-11-30
We have a internal domain envoirnmet with 10 DC's and one PDC named dom.xxx.com and exrternal doamin xxx.com
We will be changing the External domain to yyy.com and wnat to change the internal to match the external dom.yyy.com

We are running Windows 2003 standard with AD fully replicated with the other 10 DC's.
What do I need to do?
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tigermattSite Reliability Engineer
Most Valuable Expert 2011


You can do it using the Rename Domain tools: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/windowsserver/bb405948.aspx. Technically, it is 'Supported' by Microsoft.

However, I would highly recommend - particularly in a situation with as many DCs as you have - avoiding doing a domain rename. The process is flawed and has been known to permanently break many Active Directory environments. If you have Exchange, it will cause problems. The inherent issues are the reason why even some very large companies still have old AD domain names - the rename process is too risky to carry out.

I did a domain rename with rendom in an environment with 12 DCs and 6 Exchange server. All DCs and Exchange was on Windows Server 2003 SP1, and Exchange SP2 (back then). The process went just fine. The only problem that occured was that a Citrix farm needed the old domain name (and a RAID controller on a file server that ended dead after the boot;).

We spend almost 3 month in testing before we actually did the job, because you need to be sure things are going to go well in a job like this.

Site Reliability Engineer
Most Valuable Expert 2011

That is the thing. Sometimes it works - many times it doesn't. You really are very, very lucky if you managed to do a domain rename on an environment like that and not lose anything. It is something I would only ever consider doing if I KNEW I had a solid backup I could revert back to if necessary, and testing is critical prior to starting the process.


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I don't think I was lucky. We used about 3 month preparing for the job. Recreated all DCs and Exchange srv in a VMWare environment and did alot of testing how the renaming interfered on SQL servers, terminal servers and application servers. Documented every step. I think we did three renames on the test environment before we dared doing it on the live one.

Every rename we did went smoothly!

You can read about renaming that fails, but I think it's crucial to be 100% sure that your domain is in a perfect condition before proceeding. No event log errors, all DCs on same SP level and that same hotfixes/patches, no DNS and FRS errors, dcdiags without warnings/errors, and a good backup before heading into it.

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