Active Directory migration from 2003 to 2008

I have a site that is running a windows 2003 Active Directory Server. This same server is also the Exchange server 2003.  Now that one of the Mirrored Hard drives has failed and diagnostics show the “Good” hard drive has 30% bad blocks I see a long night ahead of me.  
      What I have is a new server that will arrive and before I begin I am looking for a check list for Making a server a Active Directory server and a check list that needs to be completed before running DC Promo on the old server to remove it.   I have the information on the Exchange server.  Any links or suggestions would be appreciated.
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I think that you should replace the failed hard drive and buy yourself some time. Instead of doing a force upgrade. Because there is always a possibility that the new hardware will have some quirks, or won't work at all.
On the other hand, the good drive is experiencing problems as well, so That's the reason for haste.
If that is the only domain controller, I would strongly suggest adding an additional domain controller.
If you do not have the hardware, consider using a regular desktop PC with 2 HDD, installing Server 2003, and create software RAID1 and running DCPromo.

But there is also the exchange problem.


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Hi Jason,

First let’s assume one thing. You want to migrate from Windows 2003 or Windows 2003 R2 to Windows 2008. First things first, you can only do a simple “upgrade” to the same architecture (not 32 to 64 bits). Given the fact and based on the idea that you will want to run Windows 2008 in a 64 bits (which is quite odd) and wants to use a new server, you have to do transitioning upgrade.

The check list to upgrade your Active Directory from 2003 toward Windows 2008 server is the following: +

1) Make sure you want proper documentation

It is always a good idea to document what you are doing. Make sure you have a proper documentation of all your server roles, IP and configurations. Make sure you have the (DSRM) Active Directory recovery password written somewhere. Read some best practices tips from here:

2) Is your hardware 64 bits compliant?

What is your hardware lifecycle? Given the fact that Windows 2008 R2 is only 64 bits, I strongly advise you to go 64 bits if you can afford.

3) Backups, backups and backups.

Make sure you have a proper backup of all your data (especially user data) and that you can restore them. Backup also your Windows system prior to do any change to it. Test that your backups can be used to restore a bare-metal copy of your current Windows 2003 server and check the integrity of the overall data.

4) Prepare your new Windows 2008 server

Install your new Windows 2008 server. Make sure you new server is working fine and does not produce any error in logs, that it physically works fine (first hard disk failures often occur during the first hours of HDD life). Apply all patches. Test that all your 3rd party software’s are also supported (Backup agent, Anti-virus). Do not proceed to dcpromo until you can ensure that it is the case.

5) Integrate your Windows 2008 server into the existing domain

Since you probably have a neat Active Directory, you want your new Windows 2008 server to grab a copy and your only way is to join the domain with it. Check that the copy of data looks great and that you have a full replication set. Make sure your new server is a holding (FSMO) Flexible Single Master Operations and (GC) Global Catalogue. Prior to integration into your domain, prepare your AD with adprep command. Read the dcpromo log for any mistake.

6) Ensure your new setup works fine

Check out your logs for any error or whatever. Make sure your clock and all replications works fine. Once you are sure that your Windows 2003 server can be removed, rather than demoting it directly, shut it down for a few days before to remove it from your DC list. Once you have proved that your new Windows 2008 server is backed up and that you can use them, just demote it with dcpromo. Meanwhile you will see some replication mistake, don’t mind them. People might argue it is not the best idea to keep a DC/GC down - true. But at least you can still recover from a very bad problem during first days.

7) Backups, backups and backups.

Ensure you have your new Windows 2008 server running and being backed up correctly. Test your backup policy works fine. Raise the forest level to Windows 2008 to enjoy Windows 2008 new functionalities.

Now, if you proceed carefully and do it step-by-step, you will end up with a proper upgrade and a user seamless feeling for your migration.
JaysonJacksonAuthor Commented:
Both are helpful to resolve this issue.
The current server running 2003 was originally a windows 2000 server that was upgraded to 2003. The hard drive in the system that is bad is a 500 meg WIDE SCSI that I am unable to find a new drive for.   The physical limitation of the server itself is an issue.   I have put a desktop pc as a dc until I can get a server ready.

 What I have decided to do since this is only a 30 user network that users only have e-mail and internet and two file shares is to start another domain with exchange 2007 and just power off the old equipment then trash it.  this will be cleaner. The extra work will be worth it in the long run.  
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