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Does this sound like a good upgrade plan?

Our current environment consist of two servers, Server A (NT4, PDC) and server B (NT4, BDC), and a few workstations all running Windows 98. We will be having a new server (server C) that has the latest hardware configuration to accommodate Windows 2000 Server. I would just want to know your opinion and to be sure about the migration we will be doing. And also to know, which is the best and reliable method to use considering the ff:

-Server B will still remain NT4 because of SQL 6.5
-We would like to retain Server A because it is also our antivirus server. This cannot be upgraded because it does not comply with the hardware requirements of Windows 2000.
- Domain user accounts, SIDs and the SQL accounts will not be compromised.

What we will try to do is to first install Windows NT 4.0 to server C and make it a BDC. And then we will promote server C to PDC before upgrading it to Windows 2000. I'm just worried about my BDC (server C because of the SQL applications that also use shared folders.)

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There are some things to consider. In Mixed Mode, you will not have some of the Active Directory features that you would normally get. Of course with outdated clients like Windows 98, you wouldn't be able to leverage many of the features for the users anyway. Keep in mind that directory replication will stop working. If you are using logon script or a product like SMS that puts information in the NETLOGON share, you will need to develop a manual method for copying this data (like a regular task that runs ROBOCOPY). Running in Mixed mode is not really a good idea for extended periods of time. Issues with authentication will occur down the road usually.

In addition, the reliance on the single machine holding the AD will put the computing environment and the company at risk. If possible, purchase a second domain controller for the environment. Also, rebuild the 2 NT 4.0 servers so that they are member servers as opposed to domain controllers. If this is all too much trouble, make sure you have a reliable backup of your Windows 2000 Domain Controller. I would suggest testing a full AD restore prior to putting the system in production. Also, use the Windows 2000 Backup to do a regular scheduled SYSTEM STATE backup to a file on the local disk. This will help protect you against failures.

This was first published in February 2004

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