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Looking for the most painless way to upgrade our Windows 2000 Active directory domain to Windows 2003 Active Directory.

Note: We do have Exchange 2003 running Active Directory 2000 domain

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The most painless way usually is to get a second server, install 2003, join it to the domain, and promote it to a domain controller. You'll need to do a forest/domain prep before joining the 2003 domain controller. Once it is joined transfer FSMO roles, and demote the old server. If the older hardware supports it, you can reinstall 2003 on it, and re-add it to the domain.

Of course before you do anything, your best, first step is to start by verifying you have a good backup.

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I was looking at Microsoft article Q325379 "How to upgrade Windows 2000 domain controllers to Windows Server 2003", quite a few steps to go through. I would prefer your method of building a 2003 server and premoting it to a domain controller. Still I believe that Forest Prep still needs to be run on the 2003 machine to prepair the 2000 domain for 2003. Is this correct? –  Matt Fitz Dec 7 '10 at 23:21
    
Yes, a forest prep, and domain prep must be performed however you do the upgrade. –  Zoredache Dec 7 '10 at 23:21
    
This is the way to do it for sure, minimal risk, minimal disruption, not difficult to do... –  RobM Dec 7 '10 at 23:27
    
+1 - It's a very painless process. –  Evan Anderson Dec 7 '10 at 23:27
    
I am a little concerned about any repercussions with our Exchange 2003 server. Is there any precautions to take with the Exchange sever before putting the 2003 domain controller in charge? –  Matt Fitz Dec 7 '10 at 23:44

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