Windows

Tech Tip: Follow these tips when upgrading to Windows Server 2003 from NT

To help ensure your Windows Server 2003 upgrade doesn't go awry, follow these three implementation tips.

Migrating from a Windows NT domain structure to an Active Directory implementation can initially be an anxiety-ridden experience. You're basically replacing the core of your Windows network in one fell swoop.

To help ensure your upgrade doesn't go awry, follow these implementation tips:

  • In addition to a primary domain controller (PDC), make sure you have at least two backup domain controllers (BDCs) available.

Before upgrading the PDC, synchronize the BDCs with the PDC. Then, take one of the BDCs off the network, and store it for a few days after the upgrade. If your upgrade goes poorly, you can restore your network by shutting down the network-connected BDC and the PDC and promoting the stored BDC to the NT PDC.

  • Create a reasonable Active Directory architecture.

You don't necessarily need to follow all of Microsoft's best practices for designing Active Directory. However, make sure you understand why it recommends certain practices before discounting them.

For example, in multidomain, single-forest environments, Microsoft recommends an empty root with the domains installed as child domains beneath the empty root. This is useful if you have a lot of departments because it makes it easy to move these domains. But if yours is a small organization, you might not need to follow this particular design recommendation.

  • Use Microsoft's DNS servers whenever possible.

You can install Active Directory using other DNS servers, but it's much easier to install and troubleshoot when you use the servers for which Microsoft created Active Directory. In addition, you're less likely to run into problems later.

1 comments
jacko101
jacko101

You mention to have a BDC offline as a backup in case the upgrade goes wrong. Have you ever tried that, as I have and it didn't work. We had to visit every desktop and rejoin the domain, it was pretty messy! Just wondered if anyone has successfully used a rollback server after a failed AD install? Of course, the easy answer, is no; the AD install went great, so didn't need to roll back! I wish mine had!