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What is the best way to transfer all user information from a windows 2003 32-bit server to a windows 2003 64-bit server?



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Firstly Active Directory is pretty much the same running 32 or 64bit - sure under the hood there are changes, but nothing you would notice - except perhaps improved performance, which is probably why you want to do it...

Secondly every DC in the domain holds the same information (this is true in 2003, RODC change this somewhat), so accounts do not need to be transferred, this just happens with the magic of Multi Master replication. This is the opposite of, for example, Exchange where mailboxes are stored on specific servers and account migration may be necessary.

Lesson over, now the practical:

Join the new x64 server to the domain, run DCPROMO, seize any of the FSMO role (see here) that are running on the old server & of course transfer any other services that are running on the server (DHCP/DNS/etc...). Job done - just the same as for transfering to a 32bit server.

Just a thought - if you are going through the hassle of migrating to a new DC, why not go to 2008R2? You just need to do a little schema update first.

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Thank you - we will try this definitely. For the record, I want to migrate user accounts and exchange mailboxes from one server to the other without schlepping around too much. – Anonymous Mar 9 '10 at 11:20
New server, new exchange install, move mailboxes, kill old server. – TomTom Mar 9 '10 at 11:52

Not at all?


  • You are supposed to have at least 2 domain controllers anyway (otherwise you have a HUGH problem if one crashes).

  • Just decomission an old one, reinstall (or insall the new one), promote to DC... Active Directory copies all data.

This is how I do upgrades on domain controllers. I have always a minimum of 3 dc's - even of 2 of them are virtual.

For anything else - specify what data you talk of (as it is obviously not related to the DC functionality then).

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Thanks for the tip - will definitely be looking at backup DC's. Must the backup DC's be win2k3 servers, or is there other solutions? (licensing issues etc) – Anonymous Mar 9 '10 at 11:19
Same, I would say. Licensing costs (server license), but seriously - have any of you guys or management considered the cost of a failure of the DC? EVEN WITH backups your business will be out for a minimum of a day. THAT will cost. Without backup - it will be even harder (been there, done that, NEVER again). – TomTom Mar 9 '10 at 11:52

Assuming you are just adding a machine to your domain:

  1. Complete the install of the 64 bit version.
  2. Join the 64 bit version to your domain as a domain controller.
  3. Use various AD tools provided by the vendor to ensure that replication is working.
  4. Enjoy a beverage.
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I also have to stress the importance of redundancy at the DC level. If you are using the DC as DNS, then even that won't work if it goes down.

No, give your manager a printout of this page and demand a second DC. Risk analysis will tell you you NEED duel DC's. The secondary might not have to be able to handle the day to day load of your primary perfectly, but it is also essentially a live failover backup of AD (in case of HW failures), and that is priceless, really.

EDIT: Oh, and 32 or 64 bit doesn't really matter.

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Duel DCs? That I would like to see....a fight to the death! – Jon Mar 9 '10 at 14:50
Plus, I'd say 32bit/64bit does matter if you have a sizeable ntds.dit - get it into RAM and you should see a performance improvement. That said, in this guy's case (1 DC!), I don't think that's going to be a problem. – Jon Mar 9 '10 at 15:30

Don't. Just join the new server to your domain as a member server, promote it to a DC, transfer FSMO roles, switch client DNS to the new box, then demote the old one.

Now, that's assuming that by "all data" and "all user information" you mean what's in your Active Directory. If you're also using the DC as a file server/print server/email server/whatever you'll need to transfer that too. Can you confirm (or deny) this?

I'll second what everyone else has said about having a second DC. True, it costs money, but what's the cost to the business if you lose a DC that's a single point of failure? And which cost is lower?

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