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  • #2271956

    Active Directory Domain Rename – Not Difficult At All


    by marc.morales ·

    On June 29th our Systems Team successfully performed an Active Directory Domain Rename. In our research we found that this task appeared to be one which struck fear in the hearts of Windows Administrators the world over. It was very easy to find forum posts and articles that will explain the plagues of locusts that would undoubtedly rain down upon us for even considering such blasphemy, and while we were concerned for the safety of our first borns, we trudged onward with steadfast determination. The driving force behind this need was that our senior management did not want to see remnants of past iterations of our company. Our former domain name came from when the company was called something else. We had been using a custom GINA.DLL file to mask the real domain name on the Windows XP login dialog. However, since Windows Vista does not use GINA, this solution would cease being effective when our management decides to upgrade.

    We created a virtual environment to test the rename on consisting of a Domain Controller, control station, Exchange server, SQL server, Live Communications Server, and an IIS server. We performed several renames with great success, noting any tweaks which were needed along the way. In the end what we found was that the rename actually executed exactly as advertised. All Microsoft core infrastructure applications (Exchange, SQL, IIS) handled the rename process gracefully and without issues. Live Communications Server does not accommodate the rename, which Microsoft clearly warns of. However, during our testing we found a workaround for LCS making it easy to get back online once the rename was complete.

    Obviously this document is based on our environment, which is likely rather simplistic compared to some of yours. However, non-Microsoft applications in our environment had zero issues with the rename. Blackberry Enterprise Server, Goodlink Technologies, FACSys, AVST Voicemail Server, Track-It, Tandberg Video Conferencing, Meeting Room Manager, Veritas Backup Exec, McAfee ePolicy Orchestrator Suite, and VMware Virtual Infrastructure 3.01 all had no issues other than changing the domain account they ran as to the new domain.

    We?ve put together this document with the hope of dispelling some of the myth surrounding the difficulty of the rename process. It is also our hope that if any of you are in a similar circumstance and find this as one of your options, that our experience may provide some insight as to whether it?s a good choice for you. The bottom line for us, it was WAY easier than any type of migration.

    There are some helpful links at the end.

    Detailed Steps

    Forest and Domain functional levels must be Windows 2003 Native.

    Exchange must be Exchange 2003 SP1 or higher.

    Exchange cannot be installed on a Domain Controller.

    Create a control station which can be any Windows 2003 Server that is not a Domain Controller, but is a member of the domain being renamed.

    Install the Domain Rename Tools, the XDRFIXUP (Exchange Domain Rename Fixup), and the Windows Support Tools from the installation CD.
    Create a folder in the root of a drive called domainrename. When you install the Domain Rename tools and XDRFIXUP they will place files into their default paths (C:\Program Files\Domain Rename Tools and C:\Program Files\exchsrvr\Exchange Domain Rename Tools) which must be copied to the domainrename folder you created in the root.

    On the control station, the following commands can be run ahead of your actual rename, these are run from the command prompt.

    Run rendom /list (Gathers information about the existing forest and creates an XML file.)

    copy domainlist.xml domainlist-save.xml (Later in the process this will be used as a comparison file.)

    Using notepad modify domainlist.xml (In our case, we replaced each instance of with newdomain.corp, and changed the NETBIOS name from olddomain to newdomain.

    Run rendom /showforest (This command verifies the syntax of the domainlist.xml.)

    Create a new primary Active Directory integrated DNS zone(s) for the new domain name. If you have existing trusts, make sure that the trusted domains are able to transfer from the new zone.
    If your domain was originally a Windows 2000 domain that was upgraded to Windows 2003, then you only need to create a single AD Integrated DNS zone.
    If your domain was created with Windows 2003, then you need to create an additional zone called

    Backup all Domain Controllers.

    If you?re using DFS, please refer to Microsoft?s documentation, we don’t use it.

    Remove certificate services from local certificate authorities if you have installed them on a Domain Controller. Otherwise, Microsoft claims to sustain certificate services through a domain rename procedure.

    If you have a spam filtering or mail gateway appliance which utilizes LDAP recipient verification, disable this feature.

    Microsoft Live Communications Server
    Make note of existing settings and configurations.
    In the LCS administrator console, deactivate existing pools choosing the option to force deactivation. This is necessary because the pool still homes users.
    Also in the LCS administrator console, unprep the domain, then unprep the forest.
    Uninstall LCS, choosing the option to keep the user database.
    The LCS proxy server does not need to be touched during this process.

    Break any existing trusts.

    From the Control Station:
    Run rendom /upload (this populates the DNS zone of the new domain name with the Active Directory DNS objects.)

    Run dsquery server -hasFSMO name (Identifies the Domain Controller that holds the Domain Naming Master role)

    Run repadmin /syncall /d /e /P /q (forces replication from the Domain Naming Master to the other Domain Controllers)

    Manually verify that the DNS records were successfully created in the new DNS zone.

    Run rendom /prepare (Essentially places Active Directory into a read only mode so that no changes can be made.)

    Run rendom /execute (Renames the domain using the information in domainlist.xml and forces the Domain Controllers to reboot.)

    Microsoft Exchange Process
    Verify that all Domain Controllers have been rebooted.
    From the Control Station:
    Run “XDR-fixup /s:DOMAINLIST-SAVE.XML /e:DOMAINLIST.XML /trace:TRACEFILE /changes:CHANGESCRIPT.LDF /restore:RESTORESCRIPT.LDF” (This will create two LDIF files for use later in the process.)

    Reboot the Control Station twice.


    Reboot all Exchange servers twice.

    Verify Domain Controllers fully qualified name. You will have to go to the properties of My Computer, in the Computer Name tab and click the Change, then More buttons and manually change the DNS suffix. This manual change is only necessary on Domain Controllers.

    Verify that the A record of the Domain Controllers has been created in the new DNS zone.

    From the Control Station:
    Run random /end (This places Active Directory back into its normal mode and allows changes.)

    Run “gpfixup / /newdns:newdomain.corp /oldnb:OLDDOMAIN /newnb:NEWDOMAIN /dc:dc1.newdomain.corp 2>&1 >gpfixup.log” (Modifies existing group policies to accommodate the domain name change. If you have paths to scripts specified with a group policy, these will have edited manually.)

    Run “repadmin /syncall /d /e /P /q dc1.newdomain.corp dc=newdomain,dc=corp” (Forces replication from the specified Domain Controller.)

    Create CNAME in old DNS zone for all Exchange servers redirecting them to the new DNS name. This is necessary because Outlook will not update the Mail Profile information.

    At this point the Domain Rename is complete,
    all domain computers must be rebooted twice in order to insure that each member computer learns of the domain changes and propagates them to all applications and services on the member computer. This also removes the DNS record of a machine from the old DNS zone and adds it to the new zone.

    Despite the statement above, any services installed and running under a Domain account should be checked to make sure the new domain is represented.

    Establish previous trusts if any.

    Reinstall certificate services to your environment.

    Microsoft Live Communications Server Reinstall:
    Run Forest Prep and Domain Prep from the LCS CD.
    Reinstall LCS to the original location, and specify the original user database location.
    Restore previous settings manually, SIP domain, archiving, etc.

    Once the install is complete, from Active Directory Users & Computers, choose an OU which will contain all LCS beneath it, right-click and choose move Live Communications Users, and select the new Pool.

    Also from Active Directory Users & Computers, from the same OU, right-click and choose Configure Live Communications Users and select the options that were enabled previously.

    Recreate and reapply all local certificates.

    On the LCS Proxy server, specify the new name of the LCS server.

    Process for remote users who?s machines are offsite:
    User should login to their computer normally, then establish VPN connection.

    User locks the computer while connected via VPN.

    User unlocks the computer logging on as \username and their password. User reboots the computer.

    User logs in again and should see the new domain in the login dialog.

    User should reconnect via VPN, and reboot one more time.

    Helpful Links

    Domain Rename Tools Download:

    XDR-Fixup Download:

    How Domain Rename Works:

    Step by Step Guide to Implementing Domain Rename:

    Support Webcast: Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Implementing Domain Rename:

    Support Webcast: Renaming Domains When Microsoft Exchange 2003 is in the Active Directory:

    Using The Exchange Server Domain Rename Fixup Tool:

All Comments

  • Author
    • #2606356

      DNS issue after Domain Rename

      by atimbol ·

      In reply to Active Directory Domain Rename – Not Difficult At All

      First off, great article you wrote. We as well had no problem with the domain rename we followed the steps that Microsoft has provided, however when we open our DNS, it still has the old domain name as part of the full computer name. Do you have any suggestions or ideas to resolve this.
      On a side note, we enabled RAS on of our DCs and had end users connect using the Microsoft VPN client.

      • #2513337

        DNS Issue

        by marc.morales ·

        In reply to DNS issue after Domain Rename

        Thanks for your comments. When you say you’re opening DNS, do you mean when you look at the properties of an individual machine, or when you look at the DNS console? In our DNS console we have a zone for the new domain name, but we still have a zone for the old domain as well. However the zone for the old name is fairly empty, since machines will move into the new zone.

      • #2824282

        Effect on local profiles?

        by pjust ·

        In reply to DNS issue after Domain Rename

        Hi Marc- I am working with a client who’s AD domain has an underscore in the name. We want to install Exchange 2007 and obviously, the underscore has to go. I want to attempt what you’ve done here. One question. For the workstations. When the users login to their PCs for the first time after the rename, will their local user profiles update with the new domain or will there be new ones created? The client is asking how this will affect the end-user. Thanks!

        • #2893557

          Domain name with underscore?

          by freddibner ·

          In reply to Effect on local profiles?

          Hi, I am facing the same problem. Customer wants to migrate to Exchange 2010 from 2003 – unfortuntately they have an underscore in the netbios and DNS domain names. The Exchange Pre-Deployment analyser did not flag this up (which I am taking up with MS, hoping for some free migration services…!). I now have lots of hardware and exchange licenses the customer can’t use :-s. It looks like we are probably facing a migration or rename. I’m interested inyour experiences with the underscore – what did you end up doing, and how did it go?
          Many thanks!

    • #2480911

      Domain Rename

      by cbearden ·

      In reply to Active Directory Domain Rename – Not Difficult At All

      Great article, thanks for posting. Had a few issues though.
      The upn did not update to the new domain name in AD. Luckily 2003 AD allows for multi-user selection or it could have been a real pita.
      I also found that I should have waited to break the trust after I had run the rendom /end and the forest was quiescent. Running it during the rendom process caused the prepartion of the DC’s to be delayed a bit.
      Also had issues with the gpfixup tool. It kept bombing due to an access denied issue. In order to fix this, I dropped the old forest from my GPMC and added the new Forest. Once I did that all was good.

      And for those of you with Citrix out there, be sure to document all your pub apps users or you will find yourself trying to remember who goes where. Once the citrix servers and the sql datastore had caught up, and user entry with the old domain prefix was wiped out. Not fun trying to remember all the users at 6am in the morning. Dont recommend it. And if you do have a sql datastore and are having trouble with IMA starting properly on some of your citrix boxes,check to be sure that your acct which you authenticate with the sql database has the new domain prefix listed.

      Thanks again!

      • #2566889

        Post rename issues

        by brett8722 ·

        In reply to Domain Rename

        Other than missing the step for running the gpfixup tool before running the rendom /end command, I see many spots where AD has not fully changed names. To my frustration it went flawless in my test lab but presented issues when it was actually run.

        1) Lookup zones. Only the dc’s appear in the new lookup zones. On my servers I have changed the primary dns suffix and updated the current information in dhcp, but my workstations are not getting the new suffix.

        2) If I use adsi edit the domain, configuration and schema show the new domain name, but every attribute shows the old dns name. Ntdsutil shows the old domain names when selecting sites.

        Any ideas on what went wrong or how to correct?

    • #2781311

      Member computer connection problem

      by tikamahata ·

      In reply to Active Directory Domain Rename – Not Difficult At All

      I renamed the domain successfully. Control-station, one member server, and three vista machines and one xp machine got new domain name after reboot but most of the machines with XPs could not get new domain name. In the domain list it showed old domain but could not allow to login in any domain. I tried to login with newdomain\username as well but no luck. At the end I had to join new domain manually.

    • #3007368

      Domain Rename

      by mbedford77 ·

      In reply to Active Directory Domain Rename – Not Difficult At All

      Hi Marc,
      Your article was excellent. We’re in the procss of converting to one domain with a new name due to a merger with a parent company locally. We followed your recommendations and tested things out on a virtual server and everything worked fine. We do have a Cisco IP phone system on our enterprise that wasn’t part of the virtual test however and we’ve been getting some real negative concern from our Cisco IP phone engineer regarding the renaming idea. He would rather be just build a new domain and migrate users over. My question is how long has it been since you did your domain rename and has there been any subsequent fall out since you accomplished this. Any problems and dust bunnies you might have had since the convert would be greatly appreciated. Also any chance we could conference all with my MIS Manager for a few minutes to answere any other questions he might have?

      Mike Bedford
      IT Director
      SMA Behavioral Healthcare

    • #3031707

      Domain reinstall?

      by tszablewski ·

      In reply to Active Directory Domain Rename – Not Difficult At All

      Hi Marc

      I’ve read your article describing how-to successfully rename Active Directory domain. It looks very easy when somebody can point you how to… do something… 😉
      I have another problem and i thought that you could suggest a solution…?

      We have one existing domain which contains two DCs (with DNS and DHCP services running) and about 70 workstations (only WinXP). That domain was installed by someone else and it contains huge mess in OUs structure, GPO, etc. Users files are on DCs local disks and are replicated between DCs using DFS… 😉 We don’t use roaming profiles… only local.
      I have an idea to destroy it, plan and create from scratch.
      But everyone here uses our “olddomain.local” in many, many applications so it would be nice if that name could stay intact.
      I had a plan to create temporary domain eg. temp.local, migrate workstations and users, then reinstall our olddomain.local DCs, prepare everything and migrate back…
      I created virtual environment, migrated user, workstation… but migration of local profiles didn’t succeed.. 🙁
      I would have to do it by hand (70 times)…

      Do you have any suggestions how to achieve my goals? 😉

      Thank you in advance


      • #3035978

        Migrate users to a new domain

        by ntschultz ·

        In reply to Domain reinstall?

        I just did this about 2 weeks ago…so first I would ask if you have downloaded the ADMT v3.1 from Microsoft?
        (admt v3 migration guide)

        Then you need to get your new DC setup, and establish a trust… you will need to disable sid filtering. Setup PES so the passwords can be migrated. When setting up PES you will generate the KEY from your New domain. Then install the PES using the KEY on your source (original domain)…see page 53 of the guide “enableing Migration Passwords”.

        This is pretty high level, so you will need to go through the guide as there several other steps you will need to follow\setup.
        Test it out it works pretty slick.

    • #2441769


      by agrawalpiyush ·

      In reply to Active Directory Domain Rename – Not Difficult At All

      The domain rename capabilities that result in the restructure of a forest support any set of changes to the DNS names and network basic input/output system (NetBIOS) names of the domains in a forest that results in the forest being ???well-formed.???

      In a well-formed forest, the following conditions are true:

      The DNS names of the domains in the forest form one or more trees.

      The forest root domain is the root of one of these trees.

      An application directory partition cannot have a domain directory partition as a child.

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