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I work at a Board of Education, within our system we have 12 schools. Each school averages 200-300 computers. Over the years the computers have been set up using various workgroups. We are interested in converting all of these computers to a single AD domain. Is there a way in which I can automate this process from the server at each school? We are using Windows Server 2003.

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If I'm reading this right, you want a workgroup with 2400-3600 computers in it? Did you mean to say AD domain? – Ryan Ries Mar 12 '13 at 18:34
A Workgroup? Not a Domain? – joeqwerty Mar 12 '13 at 18:34
You need to pay someone to do this for you, for a start you mark yourself as an amateur just by suggesting that workgroups should still be in use - that's early-90's tech that's been replaced multiple times. I'm not trying to be rude or insensitive but this can be done but will require a lot of expertise, so pay for that instead of trying to muddle through - good luck. – Chopper3 Mar 12 '13 at 18:34
@joeqwerty Jinx you owe me a coke. – Ryan Ries Mar 12 '13 at 18:34
Now see, you're off-base with that. The profiles (not accounts) can be migrated. – mfinni Mar 12 '13 at 19:47

Firstly, there's way more to setting up a domain than just adding the computers to it. You need to consider how you are going to setup your Forrest/Domain structure, security, DNS, account/ computer creation, amongst numerous other things to just get started designing this. Also, the profiles you are referring to will still remain on the workstations. After being joined to the domain, the new accounts will just create new profiles. You can still use tools to copy over old profiles to the new profile.

You shouldn't try tackling this if you don't know what you are doing. Hire a contractor or full time sysadmin to design and build this for you.

It can absolutely be done, but you should want it done right, especially in a school setting.

To answer your specific question, there are ways to "automate" a join to a domain. Such as using sysprep and an answer file, but you would still have to image the computer. You could also use a script to do this.

Also, you should try to avoid creating this domain with windows server 2003. It's support ends 7/14/15 and although that's still two years away, it would be nice to avoid having to upgrade later.

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We've requested funding in order to upgrade our servers to Windows Server 2012. Hopefully we'll receive the funding. If we do then we plan to set up the AD domain with the new installation. We'll have to work out then how we plan to migrate the computers over to the new domain. Also my boss will more than likely be handling the domain structure, security, DNS, etc. I will most likely just be the one that adds the computers to the domain, thus the reason for my question. – RandomlyKnighted Mar 12 '13 at 19:35

I would suggest you image the computers either way it goes. Gives you a fresh start with the workstations plus nothing "ghostly" will be out there. Also something like Altiris may give you some benefits as you can image computers remotely and do many other tasks. I know of several schools using Altiris to help them out.

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