Networking

Rename Windows Server 2003 domain controllers

Rebuilding a Windows Server 2003 domain controller allows you to clean things up and start fresh with the server, whereas renaming the domain controller changes only the name in Active Directory. In some cases however, a simple name change will do nicely and a complete server rebuild is purely overkill. Derek Schauland explains how you can rename domain controllers in Windows Server 2003.

Windows Server 2003 has several advances over the Windows 2000 Server line. One of these features is the ability to rename a domain controller without demoting and rebuilding the entire server. Many IT pros still say that rebuilding is the best way to accomplish this goal and, in many cases, they are correct. Rebuilding a domain controller allows you to clean things up and start fresh with the server, whereas renaming the domain controller changes only the name in Active Directory. In some cases, a simple name change will suffice, and a complete server rebuild is overkill.

Suppose that your company acquires another company, and you must merge the infrastructure of the acquired company with your existing infrastructure. Your first step is to rename the domain controllers at the new company in order to give them better visibility to users and administrators at the parent company. Your goal is to rename the weekend widgets domain to fit your company's naming scheme. (Note: There are many steps involved in the process of merging existing infrastructures; however, the domain controller renaming step is our focus.)

To rename a domain controller, take the following steps:

1. Log on to the domain controller you want to rename.

2. Click the Start menu and right-click My Computer.

3. Select Properties from the Context menu.

4. Select the Computer Name tab and click the Change button. You will see a message telling you that you cannot move a domain controller without demoting it and that you are only changing the name of the domain controller in an existing domain. Click OK to continue.

5. Enter the new host name of the domain controller and click OK. A dialog box will ask you for appropriate credentials to complete the name change.

6. Enter the user name and password of a user who is a member of the Domain Admins group.

7. Acknowledge the warning that you will need to restart the computer.

8. Click OK to exit the Properties screens and restart the computer.

The name change will be complete once the computer restarts. It may take some time before users or other computers within Active Directory can find the new domain controller, as the changes propagate gradually throughout the Directory.

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About

Derek Schauland has been tinkering with Windows systems since 1997. He has supported Windows NT 4, worked phone support for an ISP, and is currently the IT Manager for a manufacturing company in Wisconsin.

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