1) Make sure that you have an additional domain controller. If you usually only have one domain controller (the one whose name you want to change), make another Windows 2000 server a domain controller temporarily. You can even build a spare workstation machine up as a domain controller if you are just using it for this purpose.
2) Move all of the Flexible Single Master Operations (FSMO, fizz-mo) Roles over to the server you just made a domain controller. Make sure that this goes flawlessly! Validate the move. Here is the way that I like to move the FSMO Roles, using the NTDSUTIL.exe: http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;255504
3) Validate that directory replication is completed and up to date. You can use the Windows 2000 resource kit tool REPLMON to do this.
4) Run DCPROMO on the machine that you will want to change the name of and DEMOTE the machine to being a domain controller. Make sure that you indicate that this IS NOT the last domain controller. If the demotion does not go properly -- stop! You likely have a replication, DNS, or communication problem between the DC that you created and the one that you are trying to demote. Proceeding without rectifying the issue could result in loss of AD data.
5) Make sure that you know what the local Administrator username and password is on the server that you are going to rename.
6) Remove the machine from the domain and reboot
7) Rename the server and reboot
8) Add the machine back into the domain, reboot.
9) Run DCPROMO and PROMOTE that machine to a domain controller.
10) Validate that Directory Replication is working correctly and has completed successfully. Make sure to review the File Replication Event Log and validate that the SYSVOL share exists on the newly promoted server.
11) Move the FSMO roles back to the renamed server. Validate this move was successful.
12) Run DCPROMO on the temporary DC you created and DEMOTE the server back to a member server. Don't skip this step or you will create orphaned objects in AD resulting in serious replication issues.
13) Retire the temporary DC or return it to service as it was before.
This was first published in November 2004