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we currently have an office server running on Windows 2003. The server hosts e-mail (exchange) and active directory. Also we have two client pc's which get their internet connection and their profiles through the server.

The server is currently running at a specific domain. Our companyname has changed and we would like to change the domain to Is this a complex procedure (are we better off re-installing?), or can this be done easily?

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I've always heard advice for NOT doing this, so I'm curious to read some detailed explanations for why not. *Grabs popcorn – l0c0b0x Jun 27 '09 at 14:42
Here's a great discussion about it:… It's perfectly feasible to rename a domain and / or DCs. It's not complex at all. – Evan Anderson Jun 27 '09 at 14:54
You're not looking to a Domain Controller rename here (that's a lot easier), but a full domain rename operation; it's a whole different thing, you should re-phrase your question accordingly. – Massimo Jun 27 '09 at 16:35
BTW, are you talking about your Active Directory domain name or your company's e-mail domain? If by chance you only want to change your e-mail domain in Exchange, that's definitely simpler. – Massimo Jun 27 '09 at 16:36
up vote 3 down vote accepted

Exchange being on a DC makes a normal "Domain rename" a bit complicated. If you've only got a few mailboxes I'd consider doing a full PST export of the mailboxes with EXMERGE (and any Public Folders, using Outlook), uninstalling and retiring the Exchange organization, then performing a normal domain rename (see, and re-installing Exchange and importing the email.

Be aware that after such a "PST migration" you'll need to edit the X500 address proxies on recipients so that replies to old intra-organization emails work properly (see for details about what I'm talking about).

This shouldn't be too hard of a road, really. Since you can gather all the pertinent details re: Exchange prior to the export / uninstall / reinstall / import, it should go fine.

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Seriously don't do it! Renaming your domain will take you far longer than migrating/creating to a new domain name.

Or easier still just ignore your domain name, end users never need interact with it. Aside form the "member of domain" section in Windows it is irrelevant what your Domain is called - simply creating a new DNS zone and adding the new domain name to Exchange will do the trick.

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I'd agree that there's probably no good reason to do it other than aesthetic reasons, but it is pretty easy to do. This guy's got a single DC and a single Exchange Server computer. Renaming it would be a piece of cake. – Evan Anderson Jun 27 '09 at 14:56
I wouldn't call the 19 page guide to do it a piece of cake – SpaceManSpiff Jun 28 '09 at 14:30
Bah! Page counts are meaningless. The vast majority of the text in the "Step-by-Step Guide to Implementing Domain Rename" doesn't apply to this single DC scenario the poster describes. He doesn't have to worry about multiple DCs, the forest and domain functional levels, trusts, domain DFS, and Exchange (if he does a PST migration like I suggest). Likely he doesn't have to worry about a CA, either, which is a large part of the guide as well. It would be an afternoon's job, at most to plan and execute. – Evan Anderson Jun 28 '09 at 22:35
Risk vs. reward. If you're not gaining substantial reward from the rename, file it down there with the other 'aesthetics' projects, in favor of projects providing real value. – Kara Marfia Jun 29 '09 at 18:07

Renaming domains has been possible since Windows Server 2003 was introduced (as opposed to Windows 2000, which explicitly stated domain names were not changeable). The procedure is a bit complex and involves using command-line tools (rendom.exe) and editing XML configuration files, but it can be done and works quite well.

Now, renaming a domain with Exchange is a bit more tricky. You can find a good guide to this here:

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just adding a related caution on ghost and DCs but can't comment in line with the ghosting discussion due to rep:

Having recovered a DC from a Ghost image, it's possible but there can be wrinkles if replication has continued with "current" version of the DC that you wish to restore.

As replication continues, the USN continues to be incremented and restoring the ghost image results in the DC reporting lower USN and it will be out of sync with the up-to-date DCs.

There are ways around this but adding Exchange into the mix likely adds even more wrinkles.

For ref. there's a discussion of this issue and possible ways to correct it:

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I have done this several times at customers, and although the walkthrough documentation is a bit on the heavy side, the procedure itself actually isn't that complicated. For a one-server job with two pc's I'd say this is done in 3-4 hours if you know what you're doing.

IF you are running Exchange 2007 the procedure is unsupported though, so don't go there.

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We can rename both domain/domain controller by using netdom tool

look at this article

  1. To use Netdom, you must run the netdom command from an elevated command prompt. To open an elevated command prompt, click Start, right-click Command Prompt, and then click Run as administrator.

  2. At the command prompt, type the following command to add the new domain controller name, and then press ENTER key:

       netdom computername <CurrentDCName> /add:<NewDCName>

Type the following command to designate the new name as the primary computer name, and then press ENTER key:

netdom computername <CurrentDCName> /makeprimary:<NewDCName>

3.Restart the computer.

4.After the computer restarts, open a Command Prompt. At the command prompt, type the following command to remove the old domain controller name, and then press ENTER:

    netdom computername <NewDCName> /remove:<OldDCName>
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Hi Kombaiah, your answers seem useful to me but the constant links to your own blog could be considered spam if you don't disclose your affiliation. Have a read of [these guidelines for self promotion](…). Make sure you disclose any affiliations you have with links you post in questions and answers. Hope you stick around and provide more good answers. – Ladadadada Sep 5 '13 at 10:22

Renaming a Domain Controller's ComputerName

Petri has some advice for renaming your domain controller, and it's possible. There are lots of hooks throughout the DC into the domain's name. This article is simply for renaming your DC's computer name, as indicated in the title of this question: "Renaming windows 2003 domain controller?"

Really the best advice is to ensure that you have a second DC, and rebuild this machine once that second DC is able to take control. Certainly just power off your machine, ensure everything works on your domain using the second DC. That'll give you confidence that it's OK to go ahead and rebuild your first DC.

Heck, take a Ghost image of the machine that you want to rename in case things go sideways. If the re-naming project over the weekend doesn't give you good results, then you could reimage the machine and the users wouldn't be any wiser when they walk into work on Monday morning.

Renaming a Domain

You will encounter too many hidden hooks in Windows, Active Directory, and Exchange. You'll be paying the price in time wasted downstream, that I'd not even consider this option.

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I read that page already. But I am not sure if this procedure classifies as 'renaming your entire domain'...? – Ropstah Jun 27 '09 at 14:03
I don't think this answer is valid. Having a second DC isn't going to help matters w/ Exchange very much at all. This can be done on the single box w/ a PST-style migration. Technically, you could do it w/ promoting a second DC, demoting the first DC, doing a run-of-the-mill domain rename and running the Exchange-related fixups, then re-promoting the original box and retiring the temporary secondary DC, but the way I outlined is, I think, easier. Thing is, you don't even mention that. You talk about, like, taking "Ghost" images of DC's. Not a good idea at all. – Evan Anderson Jun 27 '09 at 14:11
Hi everybody; the title of the question is "renaming the DC". Turns out the question and the title + tags are mismatched. The Ghost suggestion is all about fail-over strategies, which is valuable when performing surgery like this. – p.campbell Jun 27 '09 at 14:45
You can't just go "ghosting" around a distributed multi-master replicated database. sigh You're going to end up breaking something. Disk imaging PCs is one thing-- servers are a different animal. – Evan Anderson Jun 27 '09 at 14:55

I would say its not worth it.

Here is the link to the technical guide for renaming a domain, its 19 pages log. Honestly if its that important, I'd EXMerge the mailboxs out then rebuilt the DC/Exchange server from new.

I'd personally not worry about it if its not really required. Unless like the boss to do it.

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