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Separate Certificate Services from Domain Controller on Windows Server 2012 R2

Posted on 2015-02-17
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Last Modified: 2015-02-20
I have a domain controller that I had setup and added certificate services. Now, I would like to demote my current certificate services server from a domain controller, but the demote process errors out because it has certificate services. I assume this is because I set up an Enterprise CA and an Enterprise CA needs to be on a domain controller. Is this correct?
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Question by:byt3
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Mahesh earned 500 total points
ID: 40616009
This is not correct

Enterprise CA can be installed on member server, domain controller is not required.
Also you can't uninstall \ demote DC server until you remove CA role

To do what you are trying to: There are TWO options:
1st: backup CA database and export below registry
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\CertSvc
Uninstall CA server role from server
Demote domain controller to member server followed by reboot
Again reinstall CA server role on same server and restore database and CA registry

2nd option:
backup CA database and export below registry
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\CertSvc
Uninstall CA server role from server
Rename Domain controller to some else name
Prepare new member server with same name as old DC\CA server name
Install AD certificate services on that new member server and restore CA backup and registry

Check below articles for step by step
https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ee126140(v=ws.10).aspx
http://www.rebeladmin.com/2014/11/step-by-step-guide-to-migrate-active-directory-certificate-service-from-windows-server-2003-to-windows-server-2012-r2/
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by:byt3
ID: 40617200
Thank you for the clarification and the how-to. The how-to suggests creating new templates for certificates to re-issue, does that mean currently issued certificates and created templates won't be migrated to the new server?
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Expert Comment

by:Mahesh
ID: 40618737
Already issued certificates cannot be migrated to new server, they are just part of certificate database as issued certs on source server and carry forwarded to new server when you restore database with same hostname and actual certificates with private key remains with users \ computers who requested it.
In fact no need to migrate them.

In case of templates, they also cannot be migrated as by default they are stored in AD and any custom templates you need to manually create again on target server
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by:byt3
ID: 40619487
Here's another question: Am I correct in assuming that I can't demote the server, because the templates are stored in AD? And by putting the CA on a member server the templates will no longer be stored in AD?
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Expert Comment

by:Mahesh
ID: 40619505
No this is not correct

No matter whenever you put AD integrated CA on member server \ domain controller, certificate templates are always stored in active directory for use of anybody

U can't demote DC while CA is installed because this is restriction imposed by Microsoft, because while CA is installed removing DC role will break CA completely, hence they have put this restrictions
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