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So I have a small domain with a single controller running server 2k3. I want to replace the domain controller with new hardware. Is it possible to simply build a new domain with the exact same domain name, hostname, and IP address on the new hardware, manually duplicate all of the user accounts and groups, and then simply switch the old controller off and turn on the new controller with the identical domain/hostnames? Will this cause any DNS issues or issues with the workstations that are already joined to the domain?

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I realise the proper way would be to promote it, transfer the roles and demote the other. Just curious if this unorthodox method would actually work. – Robert K Aug 27 '09 at 16:48

You would have to manually readd each computer to the "new" domain. So that method wouldn't work and would be a lot more work then just promoting a second box and moving roles over.

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To answer the point made in your comment to your question, no this will not "work" per se. A domain is more than the name we see, and you would actually be creating a totally new domain that would have the exact same name as your old domain.

If your objective is an orderly transition of users and computers from the old domain controller to the other this would be a very bad thing. Did you see the old ghostbusters films? The bit about don't crossing the streams? If you go with your plan, switching both DCs on at the same time would be the Windows / Active Directory equivilent of crossing the streams.

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+1 for using Ghostbusters to describe Active Directory! – Richard Slater Feb 23 '10 at 13:48

What you want to do is install Windows on the new hardware, join it to your existing domain, promote it to a domain controller, and then remove the old hardware.

Here's a Technet article on Decommissioning a Domain Controller that you'll want to read through before doing this. There can be some gotchas when removing a domain controller from your domain.

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what about FSMO's and all that? – Physikal Aug 27 '09 at 16:36
See the link in my edit. Was adding it while you were adding your comment. – squillman Aug 27 '09 at 16:37

I would consider something like this:

That is a the correct way to do it. But that is just my opinion.

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The way i`ll do it is add the second box to the domain (dcpromo) and later pass all the FSMO to it, later just follow instruction on the link in squillman post.

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