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Can I rename a server once it's been promoted to DC status?

We are running a Windows Server 2003 Active Directory domain. We are replacing one of our production Windows 2000 member servers with newer hardware running Windows Server 2003 and want it to keep its hostname and IP address. What must I do to ensure a smooth transition for this machine?

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It's generally a bad idea to rename a server once you have promoted it to DC status. Let's say that your current DC is called DC1. Your best bet would be to install your new server as a member server called SERVER1. Then install a third machine as a domain controller, call it DC2. Once DC2 has been installed as a domain controller, transfer all 5 FSMO roles from DC1 to DC2, and run dcpromo to gracefully remove the old DC1 from your network. Once you've removed the old DC1 from your network, you can rename the SERVER1 member server to DC1. You can then run dcpromo on the new DC1 to introduce it to your network gracefully.

This was first published in May 2005

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