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How can I upgrade my NT 4.0 PDC to Windows 2000 or 2003?

I have a small NT domain with an NT 4.0 Server (PDC) and a Win2K Server I thought would serve as a BDC. I have workstations running XP Pro and Win2K. I want to convert my NT4.0 PDC to either Server 2000 or Server 2003. I'm not sure about the best way to do this and keep the network up and running. I haven't used or seen Server 2003 so I'm not sure about using it. I know it would be more up-to-date to go with it. My Win2K Server is not authenticating users when the PDC is off so I'm confused about that. I considered just upgrading the PDC and hoping it would retain all my domain and user data.

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You cannot have a Windows 2000 Server acting as a PDC in a Windows NT 4.0 domain. So, it will never authenticate users. If you are going to upgrade, upgrade to Windows 2003. The installation steps should be to upgrade the NT 4.0 PDC to Windows 2003 first. You will also need to have DNS worked out prior to the installation. Windows 2003 uses DNS heavily and if it isn't correct and configured properly the upgrade and the resulting AD will not behave well. Once the PDC is upgraded you upgrade the BDC. Once that is complete you convert the Active Directory to be running in Native Mode. You then can add additional domain controllers.

This was first published in January 2004

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