MIgrating from Windows Server 2003 for Small Business Server to Windows Server 2012 Std

currently have a domain controller running Win 2003 SBS, acts as file and print server too. Want to replace it, so I bought a Windows 2012 Std server, 64 bit. I powered it up, did all the Windows updates, antivirus, all the std stuff to get it ready and I plugged it into my network switch. I was able to easily join this to my domain, and reboot and log into my domain account. I can see and PING the current DC as well as the Win 7 client PCs. SO far so good. Now I need to assign roles to it and promote it to a DC. I was reading an article on how to do this and it said the first step is to ensure your current DC is at domain functional level 2003 or better. So I did that and the current DC is only at level Windows 2000 Native. It gives me the option to raise it to Windows Server 2003 but it also says its irreversible, which scares the he4ck out of me because I cannot bring my office of 20 employees to a halt if raising this screws things up. I don't want to end up with a broken DC and a brand new one that hasn't even been set up yet.

I assume the current DC needs to be at level 2003 or better so when I promote the new DC it can "talk" to it and replicate things, that is my guess anyway. So my question is, should I go ahead and raise the level of the existing DC to 2003 from 2000 or does someone know a good reason not to.

thx experts....BobR
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I suppose this is physical hardware?  Otherwise you could take a sbapshot.

check this page for assistance on doing that!

Be aware that Support for Windows Server 2003 ended on July 14, 2015
bobrossi56Author Commented:
Yes, its a physical server not a VM.
Casey WeaverManaged Services Windows Engineer IIICommented:
You should go ahead and raise the level, it's the only way the 2012 server can communicate. Don't let it scare you, the warning is mainly to point out that you can't bring an older dc into the mix. Back in the day this meant that when you raised the level to 2003, you 1. Couldn't have any other domain controllers than 2003 on the network. And 2. If for some reason you needed to bring in a 2000 dc after the upgrade, you couldn't reverse the upgrade to be able to do so. This warning is still in place today, ex 2012 functional cannot have a 2008r2 domain controller in it. All that being said, I've never seen an environment that small not be successful.
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Read the documentation i gave you, and go.
If i where you i would later raise it on the 2012R2 to 2012. Since the stop on the 2003 version.
bobrossi56Author Commented:
OK, I will do this tonight and keep my fingers crossed and report back. Thanks thus far...
I would test in a lab first.  You can virtualize it using vmware converter.

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Mal OsborneAlpha GeekCommented:
Should be fine.  Provided you have no NT4 or Windows 2000 DCs on the site, nothing much noticeable will change. You will gain a few extra features, like the ability to drag and drop objects in ADUC, and make changes to multiple objects at once.

As usual, having backups before doing ANYTHING is best practice, but were it me I would just do it. I have made this change dozens of times, and never seen anything untoward happen.
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
For people with experience and who understand how Active Directory works, this is easy and a bit of a no-brainer... but here's the problem.... NONE OF US HERE can see everything you have.  If you don't know AD well enough to know how this basic setting affects things, you probably don't yet have the knowledge to do this to your PRODUCTION system.

Should it be fine?  Yes... MOST LIKELY, it will... but if you really cannot bring my office of 20 employees to a halt, then why are YOU doing this?  Hire a professional to do it for you, then you can learn with them and manage after it's done.  Otherwise, you should be setting up testing environments and doing this AT LEAST TWICE in a test environment to learn what the consequences are.  And while we're talking about raising the domain and forest functional levels, there's a lot more that should be done to ensure you don't end up with MAJOR network problems.  BOOKS have been written on AD so summarizing it for someone who doesn't have much experience is at best dangerous.

Setup test networks, do this there, spend 3-6 weeks learning it and then do it yourself.  If you don't have that kind of time / don't expect to make a career out this, then hire someone to get it done right the first time.
bobrossi56Author Commented:
Worked like a charm, thanks all
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Windows Server 2003

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