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What's the best way to insert a Win2k server as a PDC in an NT4 system?

One of my clients has an NT 4.0 system consisting of one PDC and one backup domain controller (BDC). The existing primary domain controller (PDC) is providing file/print services and I feel it's time to replace it, due to its age and performance capabilities. What would be the best procedure to insert a Win2k server, if I provided a new replacement for the existing PDC? (I plan on removing the existing PDC after transferring all of its data files to the new Win2k PDC.)

 

  1. Can I promote the new machine to be the PDC and leave the other(s) on NT 4.0?
  2. Money is tight for this client, but I really feel that the existing PDC needs to be replaced, before a "big failure" occurs. I would prefer not to upgrade the BDC to Win2k at this time.
  3. The client's BDC is NT 4.0 and runs SQL Server for its management system.
  4. I want this to be a fairly simple process. Am I way off base here and missing something?
  5. There are approximately 30 clients that are a mix of Windows 98, Windows 2000 Pro and XP Pro.

Your consideration and advice will be appreciated. Thanks.

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Here's what I'd do in your situation:
  1. Back up all of your data. Back it up again. Then back it up some more.
  2. Beg, borrow or steal (no, not literally on that last one) a workstation to use as a fail-back mechanism. Install NT4 Server, configure it as a BDC, then take it offline until you're satisfied that the Windows 2000 migration has been successful.
  3. Install your new machine as another NT4 BDC. When you're ready to perform the migration, upgrade the new PC to be your NT4 PDC. (Since you have to upgrade the PDC first, this will allow you to upgrade a "clean machine," theoretically making the process much smoother.)
  4. When the new machine has been installed as a Windows 2000 controller, you can transfer files and applications from the existing PDC (which is now a BDC) and upgrade any other Nt4 server machines at your leisure.

This was first published in March 2003

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