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Client's one and only server 2003 (AD) crashed and i had to rebuild it - painless way to rejoin existing XP machines to the "new" domain?

jeebs81 asked
Hi guys,

One of our clients has been running an extremely old server with Server 2003 installed. The RAID array containing the OS installation failed during a power outage (they are SCSI drives) and I was forced to rebuild it.

This environment has only that one server, no offsite backups, and a handful of aging XP machines.

I've recreated AD now, and used the exact same domain name as before, and a different static IP. As of now I have not added any users or machines to Active Directory.

What is the best/least painful way to proceed with rejoining these XP machines to the "new" domain? Is there any way to avoid having to create new user profiles?

Thanks so much!!!!
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Sue TaylorProject Manager

To my knowledge, you're going to have to walk around to each computer system and un-join/re-join.  I also have concerns with using the same domain name - that could mess things up in DNS.

The computers are specifically looking for XYZ-server and you no longer have XYZ-server.  Even though you've used the same domain name, it's a completely different domain with a new domain controller and everything else.
I have done 1 time a small migration of a windows domain 2003 from an old system to a new system.

We manualy joint the clients first to the workgroup.
After that we created the same account's whith the same name and logon name on the new domain.
We also kept the excact domain name.
After rejoining the clients to the new domain, the user was able to use his "old" domain profile again.


Thanks for your quick response - that's what i figured, it's not just going to "work" even though i used the same domain name. How do I un-join the machines when the old domain controller is gone though? In my experience you always have to use the old domain admin credentials to do so.

My next concern is whether I need to recreate user profiles on each machine too.. I'm uncertain that if i recreate the user accounts on the new DC that it will just work too.

lol what a nightmare
Project Manager
You should join the computer to a workgroup (any random workgroup, even if you just call it "workgroup") and it should have the admin credentials cached.  Reboot, and then join to the new domain.

REMEMBER: once you reboot the machine, you'll need to know the password to a LOCAL administrator account.  You won't be able to login with your domain account anymore.  If you have any concerns, Start > Run > control userpasswords2 and set one up before rebooting.

Again, since you used the same domain name I have some concerns.  Think about user profiles, too.  You have a profile on that computer for the old domain; you won't be able to simply login with that profile.  You may want/need to run a MIGWIZ on these XP machines.  That is the easiest way to transfer most files and settings.  Putting the file on an External USB Drive will be quickest, that way the hard drive isn't copying to itself.


itworks - thanks for the reminder. I will reset the local administrator accounts to ensure that I can log on the machines after removing from the domain
Did you change the server name ?

We didn't change the server name.



i did change the server name, but i will keep this in mind if it causes a problem! can always change it back easily
I did here some testing on a win 2008 domain.
And the trick isn't working anymore.

So the tips of ITWork are very good and right to the point..
David Johnson, CDSimple Geek from the '70s
Distinguished Expert 2019

i did change the server name, but i will keep this in mind if it causes a problem! can always change it back easily

Not so to change a AD Domain Controller' name.

Remind the customer that RAID does not equal backup. Did they buy a UPS this time? No backups makes this job a start from scratch environment.


So it worked well - was able to rejoin the computers to the new domain controller without any problems!

As for the user profiles - I recreated the accounts in AD and was able to log in, but XP treated the accounts as new profiles. I fixed the problem by making the new profile local admin, then editing the registry to point the home folder location to the original location.

The users should be able to log in now without noticing any change

Anyway thanks for all your help guys! It was very useful!

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