configure as a DC to act as a backup in case the 2003 DC is not running

The current PDC is a Windows 2003 Small Business Server. It is currently running on Windows 2000 Domain Level Compatability. I have another Windows 2008 Std Server that I would like to also configure as a DC to act as a backup in case the 2003 DC is not running. If we upgrade to 2003 Domain Level Compatability on the 2003 server, we will then be able to run the Windows 2008 Std in 2003 domain level compatability so that we can run it as a backup? I have been told that there are issues and limitations when trying to run multiple DC's with a Small Business Edition server
Who is Participating?
I wear a lot of hats...

"The solutions and answers provided on Experts Exchange have been extremely helpful to me over the last few years. I wear a lot of hats - Developer, Database Administrator, Help Desk, etc., so I know a lot of things but not a lot about one thing. Experts Exchange gives me answers from people who do know a lot about one thing, in a easy to use platform." -Todd S.

Tony GiangrecoCommented:
You can't have a Windows 2000 DC abnd a Windows 2008 CD in the same network. Upgrade the 2000 to a 2003 or 2008 and raise the level.

Experts Exchange Solution brought to you by

Your issues matter to us.

Facing a tech roadblock? Get the help and guidance you need from experienced professionals who care. Ask your question anytime, anywhere, with no hassle.

Start your 7-day free trial
Tony GiangrecoCommented:
Sorry.... DC not CD.
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
Whoever told you those things doesn't understand the product.

SBS can have as many DCs as you like. The restriction is that you can only have ONE SBS server in the domain. This is because the SBS server MUST hold the FSMO roles (typing this on my phone - google "fsmo roles" if you don't know what they are.

I honestly don't recall if 2008 requires a 2003 domain functional level - it might - I know SBS 2011 does.

You can definitely have the 2008 act as a DC (there is no such thing as primary or secondary or backup DCs in Active Directory). You'll likely have to run the standard Asleep commands on the SBS system from the 2008 media, but its definitely possible and in my opinion fairly easy
Big Business Goals? Which KPIs Will Help You

The most successful MSPs rely on metrics – known as key performance indicators (KPIs) – for making informed decisions that help their businesses thrive, rather than just survive. This eBook provides an overview of the most important KPIs used by top MSPs.

Brian PiercePhotographerCommented:
There is  no reason why you can't have multiple DCs in an SBS domain, providing that the SBS server retains all the FSMO roles. However you will need to raise the domain functional level to 2003 (is there any reason you have not done this ?), and you will need to update the schema on the 2003 DC to the 2008 schema version.

see this
Cliff GaliherCommented:
As others have said, you can certainly have multiple DCs, and as long as you don't have any 2000 DC's around, you can raise the functional level safely.

With that said, SBS makes backup and restore processes trivial via its wizard. Adding a second C significantly complicates things as performing a restore on any network (not SBS specific) with multipleDCs becomes a matter of careful planning and a more intimate knowledge of Active Directory is a requirement. Usually the cost of implementing a more robust DR plan to incorporate that knowledge outweighs the benefot of adding a second DC. Unless you are clustering, have redundant file systems, email systems, and other components, another DC doesn't offer a lot of benefit when your SBS server is down. All of the major components that make a business productive are still down.

So don't just implement a second DC because it seems like a good idea. Do a real analysis of what pain point you are trying to solve, how often you expect that pain point to occur, and what the ramifications of the solution will be in regards to regular operation. Am I saying "don't do it?" No. I'm saying don't do it unless you fully understand the consequences. Whether that is ultimately a good fit for your business model or not, only you can decide. But based on the nature of your questions, I can surmise that the analysis has not yet been done.

Brian PiercePhotographerCommented:
I have to disagree that adding another DC makes backup and restore more complex - it actually makes it simpler because if you have a DC and one dies, all you have to do is add another server, promote it to a DC and the latest copy of AD gets copied to it without you needing to do anything.

As for clustering DCs - that isn't an option - its not supported - and there is no need to cluster DCs sice AD by its nature maintains synchronised copies on all DCs.  
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
Actually, I'll agree with Cliff here - IN SOME CASES.  Specifically, cases where the SBS server is NOT administered by an SBS specializing IT consultant who is otherwise comfortable with the restore process in multi-DC environments.  And I might add, it was Cliff's comment in this question that finally made sense as to why this would even be a concern.  The SBS backup facility is excellent... and if used, you COULD potentially run into problems with a second DC if you're not keeping it closely in mind.  

PERSONALLY, I would always prefer a second DC, but I'm also very comfortable with my ability to restore a domain with an existing DC.  Some people - especially those asking this question here - may not be.

I will somewhat disagree that you would want to be as concerned in ANY domain environment.  In almost any other environment (at least any environment where Exchange is NOT on a DC), I simply wouldn't bother with a complete restore hours or days after failure.  I'd build from scratch and restore the data, cleaning up the AD metadata.  If a BDR were in place, that's fine - but that would typically be kicking in within minutes to an hour or so of a failure and with that, the odds of a problem on a multi-DC environment are pretty low (though not non-existant).  I've also been giving this SOME thought - a BDR environment has less of a need for a second DC since the BDR has a near up-to-the-minute copy of the server (at least with most BDRs) so that if something did cause a failure, you likely wouldn't have a significant outage or risk of losing AD.
Brian PiercePhotographerCommented:
Thats a fair enough point I suppose - personally I always like to have 2 DCs - its not a substitute for backup, far from it, but I sleep better in the knowledge that I have two synchronised copies of AD available.
Cliff GaliherCommented:
KCTS: you collided two separate points I was making.

Point 1. SBS backup/restore was designed for minimal intervention, but the trade-off is that it isn't as robust. If your SBS server is down due to a DR event, you can't simply 'add another DC' as you imply, because chances are you want more than just AD. you want your files and mailboxes too. So you fire up the restore utility, restore a backup, don't know about authoritative vs non-authoritative restores, and end up with orphaned objects. Yes, backing up and restoring DCs matter, and knowing how is important. SBS tends to be in smaller environments where that specialized knowledge may not exist. When discussing matters, you MUST remember where SBS often exists, and that it is more that JUST a DC, but often contains other data that users will want to restore.

The clustering issue was separate. I was not advocating clustering DCs. But my point was that when SBS is down, your DHCP server is down. DHCP can be clustered. And setting up non-clustered redundant DHCP servers without creating IP collisions is not trivial. SBS is often used as a file server. So unless you've set up clustered fileservers or DFS, you won't have files while SBS is down. increasingly businesses are using SHarepoint, and SBS has a default website that is used for faxing, and available preconfigured for business use. Unless you've taken time to set up load balanced sharepoint servers and clustered a SQL back-end, that is down too.

So, yes, discussing clustering reaches beyond just the DCs and is relevant, considering the discussion itself involves what services will be unavailable while SBS is down.

In large environments with separate servers, a single server outage does not impact an entire business. A file server being down wouldn't affect email. But in SBS, a down server is often a full stop, and a second DC alone does not change this. So the ultimate question, what benefit does this offer, is certainly applicable. And, without clustering or redundancy for the other roles, the answer is, almost none. You are restoring either way, and business is stalled while e restore occurs.

Hope that better clarifies.

It's more than this solution.Get answers and train to solve all your tech problems - anytime, anywhere.Try it for free Edge Out The Competitionfor your dream job with proven skills and certifications.Get started today Stand Outas the employee with proven skills.Start learning today for free Move Your Career Forwardwith certification training in the latest technologies.Start your trial today

From novice to tech pro — start learning today.