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jkocklerFlag for United States of America

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Windows 2003 SBS, big problems after DC Demotion


  I recently demoted a 2003 SBS from a DC, and changed it's domain membership to a new domain.

Ever since then, it has been dreadfully slow. Takes a couple of days to boot up.. When booted, it takes an hour to log in. When rebooting, or logging off, it takes 2 or more days. Just sits on "logging off."

Any ideas on what is causing this, and how I can work to resolve it, without writing zeros?
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Agreed, this is not reversible or repairable, your only solution is a restore from backup.  If you want a member server you will have to buy another license and do a clean install.
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Well I arrived on site and the server was screaming loud, and was not getting to bios or anything else.

I cleaned out a dead cat from within the chassis, and now it is firing up great.

It is fast, responsive, and it has no issues signing me in, as a domain user from the domain it is just a "member" of.

I asked a question once before on this setup, and was told it could be used as a member server:


Maybe this is where I will have an issue. I want to utilize the Exchange Server within SBS 2003, without promoting it to a DC.

I understand that it must to be the ONLY DC, however, since it is accessing active directory of the domain, as a member server, can I somehow get Exchange going on it?
The answers in that thread are just plain wrong. SBS must both LEGALLY and TECHNICALLY be a domain controller, hold all FSMO roles, be the root of the forest, and does not support trusts. It *cannot* be a member server. That makes the rest of your question moot, as there is no legal way to run Exchange on SBS as a member server.
You have violated the SBS licensing agreement and set off a trigger that will force the server to start shutting itself down every hour after 7 days.  This is for migration purposes and allows you to work until you reach that limit. There is hotfix that will extend that to 21 days, but that is it.

All of this is documented in the SBS licensing  and manuals.
As per the following link, where you can access the 21 day extension:
"Important We strongly recommend that you complete all migration tasks before you demote the Windows SBS domain controller to a member server. Once you demote the Windows SBS domain controller to a member server, the grace period is reset to 7 days.";EN-US;943494

As mentioned a full system restore is the only option.
Ok.. well Im joining it to a new domain now to get around the server shutdown.
That won't get around the server shutdown.  Seriously you are "doomed".
Why? I am going to join it to a brand new domain that it is the only server in, and promote it to a DC. That won't work?
This is a built-in "time bomb" from Microsoft to keep you from doing exactly what you are trying to do.  SBS has limitations which reduce the price and this is one of them. Once you run DCPromo the trigger is set and un-stop-able.

The license clearly states SBS must be a DC
Must be the first DC in a domain
Must retain all FSMO roles

You can add other member servers or DC's to an SBS domain, or you can migrate from SBS to another Server O/S and remove the SBS.
There are two subtle but distinct questions there.

Yes, you could technically join SBS to an existing domain as long as it doesn't have trusts. And yes, you could then promote it to DC and transfer all FSMO roles to SBS. And yes, then youd be in legal compliance.

HOWEVER the act of demoting SBS does break things on a technical level. Exchange, for example does not like having the DC ripped out from under it. What you've done puts SBSS in a broken and unsupportable state, even if you can get it back to a legal state. Restore a backup That is the only way.
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It won't even work if you re-promote the machine back to DC.
The SBS setup is tightly woven with the domain name; demoting and repromoting will break all kinds of things.
If you want to reanimate it, you'll have to reinstall from scratch.
How will I know if its tanked? This server pretty much just serves as a remote desktop, for one user, to use Quicken.. So, reinstalling it is not really a big deal..

However, if I want to avoid that, and it is running fine at this point in the new domain. Will there be an event in the event logs showing me this "doom?"

And if so, how long until I start to see it?
The server runs fine for 7 days and then starts its shutdown and posting a licensing violation in the event logs.

We are not making this up, it is well documented.
I am not sure how it works but if you move the server date ahead 7 days it may trigger the shutdown after a couple of hours.
It's tanked. Sorry, but that's just how it is with SBS. It's cheap and therefore has restrictions preventing you from using it like a regular server.
Using the dcpromo command to demote, and then re-promote either Windows Small Business Server 2003 or Windows SBS 2008 is not supported.
Windows Small Business Server 2003 or Windows SBS 2008 has to be the primary domain controller in a domain where the Windows SBS product is integrated with Exchange, SharePoint, and IIS is installed on the same server along with Active Directory. Using dcpromo to demote a Windows SBS product, used in the above scenario, will break the integration of the various installed applications on Windows SBS. There using dcpromo to demote and then re-promote the same Windows SBS product is not supported.

The following workarounds are available.
1 If dcpromo has been used to demote a Windows SBS the only supported means to promote it back as a domain controller is to rebuild the server, or restore the system to a state prior to demotion.

Running dcpromo to demote and re-promote Windows Small Business Server Products
Love it.