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Upgrading three NT4 domains to one AD domain

I have three NT 4.0 domains with each one holding accounts and resources. I am looking to migrate to a Windows 2000 or 2003 Active Directory domain structure. I am planning on consolidating the existing three domains (SOUTH, WEST, CENTRAL) into one domain (COMPANYX) prior to the migration. Shouldn't I be able to migrate the existing NT 4.0 domain (COMPANYX) to a new 2000/2003 domain (COMPANYZ) without having to have more than one domain? Will Exchange 5.5 pose any problems with the migration?

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If you bring all of the domains into a single domain on NT 4.0, you can than upgrade that domain to Windows 2000/2003. No problem there. If you try to rename the domain you will not be able to change the NetBIOS domain name in Windows 2000. In 2003 you can give it a try post-upgrade. The complexity with Exchange will come from which domain it is currently in. Also, changing the NetBIOS name will upset Exchange 5.5 quite a bit –- so it isn't recommended. You could instead build a new Windows 2000/2003 domain, and then migrate the objects from the other domains in using ADMT. This allows you to have a pretty nice safety net. You can also migrate Exchange into the new domain fairly easily. This second method will require some additional hardware and a little more time, but is ultimately more satisfying result-wise and less intrusive to the clients.

This was first published in October 2003

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