i'm due to replace an ageing Dell Tower server running AD on Windows Server 2003 SBS with a new rackmount server running Windows Server 2008 R2

they run an Active Directory network with mostly XP SP3 clients with the odd vista or Win 7 client, they all currently run local profiles but we intend to convert them to roaming profiles because they are mostly desktop clients

we are actually retiring exchange as the client migrated to google apps a month or so ago.

we are trying to make the change as seamless as possible on the client side, so i'm guessing something along the lines of setting up new server to be a slave DC then promoting it to master status and then moving the shared files over

  • thanks for the answers @joeqwerty i tried your answer but my win server 2008 media didnt work on the 2003 sbs server however i was able to manually run adprep and then use, @Lewis' instructions to finish up, all that remains is cleaning up the old exchange schema stuff :) Jul 12, 2011 at 8:07

2 Answers 2


Your process sounds fine to me though admittedly I haven't done anything with SBS2003 before.

  1. Build the new server
  2. Prepare the AD schema (adprep /forestprep, adprep /domainprep /gpprep, adprep /rodcprep)
  3. DCPromo the new server in to the existing domain
  4. Install DNS role on to it and wait for replication to complete (c. 10 mins)
  5. Transfer all 5 FSMO roles to it (Forest: Schema & Domain Naming) (Domain: PDC Emulator, RID Master, Infrastructure Master)
  6. Make the new server a Global Catalog Server
  7. Install DHCP role on the server - don't create or activate a scope
  8. Use netsh to back up the DHCP config from the old server and migrate it to the new one using netsh again.
  9. Update the DHCP scope's DNS Server settings to reflect the new Domain Controller's IP address (so that clients are using the new DNS server!)
  10. Bring the DHCP scope online - this will kill the SBS server's DHCP service.

At this point you should be set to decommission the old server however I must admit I have little idea how this is achieved with SBS2003. One assumes that the roles can simply be uninstalled but I'm guessing.

Run DCPromo on the SBS2003 box and follow the instructions to remove Active Directory from the server.

Hopefully that's a decent intro. If you're running Exchange 2003, you will need to commission a new server and migrate mailboxes to the new server before transferring the FSMO roles.

NB: Once you have moved your FSMO roles and decommissioned the SBS server as a Domain Controller, you've got a grace period of 7 days to fully decommission the server before it starts shutting itself down, as per this doc. http://support.microsoft.com/kb/555087


  • SBS must be the FSMO role holder. It's not possible to transfer the FSMO roles while SBS is on line. SBS also won't allow it's DHCP service to run in the presence of another DHCP server on the same network.
    – joeqwerty
    Jul 8, 2011 at 16:15
  • Really? So it isn't possible to migrate to a separated infrastructure without jumping through hoops? Genius.
    – Lewis
    Jul 11, 2011 at 8:23
  • OK, digging around a little on Technet reveals: Documentation for Microsoft Windows Small Business Server 2003 R2 Transition Pack microsoft.com/download/en/… and the following PDF: download.microsoft.com/download/D/C/B/… This one is also useful: blogs.technet.com/b/moloyt/archive/2007/10/10/…
    – Lewis
    Jul 11, 2011 at 8:29
  • @joeqwerty - I've done a bit of reading and it seems it is possible to transfer the FSMO roles while the SBS server is online. The only other option would be to seize the FSMOs which is ridiculous. If Exchange is being used currently, there will be changes to this process. I've updated my process above and will be testing the entire process in a lab myself to confirm it can be done.
    – Lewis
    Jul 11, 2011 at 13:34
  • If you use the transition pack it is possible to migrate the FSMO roles as the transition pack essentially turns SBS into Standard. It is possible to migrate without the transition pack, in which case my comment regarding the FSMO roles stands. Either method (mine without the transition pack or yours with it) should accomplish the goal. I'm eager to see your test results so post back after you're done.
    – joeqwerty
    Jul 11, 2011 at 14:57

I would recommend following this guide and skipping any steps related to migrating Exchange or Sharepoint.


  • thanks for the info but the new server isnt SBS and we wont be migrating exchange Jul 6, 2011 at 13:45
  • 2
    Right, hence the part of my answer that states to ignore any Exchange and/or Sharepoint related steps. The process is the same regardless of whether you're migrating to SBS or not.
    – joeqwerty
    Jul 8, 2011 at 16:13

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