Our domain is a child domain in a forest, and we only look after our own domain. Another organisation looks after the other domains. They have been very reluctant to make any forest wide changes for us in the past (e.g. schema extensions etc.)

The current domain (and forest) functional level is 2003. I want to raise our domain functional level to 2008 R2 (all our DCs are 2008 R2). I know I can do this independently of the forest. My question is this:

If I raise our domain functional level, does it actually change anything? Or does it just permit the forest functional level to be changed, once all the other domains are raised? (And only once the forest functional level is raised do the new features become available).

I know that the Active Directory Recycle Bin requires the whole forest to be raised (as it is dependant on a schema change). Does this apply to all new 2008/2008 R2 features?

1 Answer 1


Starting with Windows Server 2008, the goal is to allow raising the DFL/FFL without auto enabling any features. All of the features introduced in Windows 2008 based AD can be used by merely raising DFL. This means admins can raise DFL/FFL knowing they are only restricting the OS choice of newer DCs and preventing any downlevel DC been introduced.

So once you raise your DFL it wont auto enable anything. You can go ahead and start choosing when you want to use features like fine grained password policies and dfsr for sysvol replication. Other features such as restartable AD, RODC, AD Powershell etc are not dependent on DFL/FFL raises so you can use them already. See following links for details

2008 - http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc753516(WS.10).aspx 2008 R2 - http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dd378796(WS.10).aspx

also see http://blogs.technet.com/askds as they have details on usage of these features.

  • many thanks for both your comment and the links. I'm still unsure however of which new features are dependant on schema changes and, therefore, unavailable to me without the FFL being raised. I know the AD Recycle bin is one example, I'm curious as to which other features we will not be able to use by just raising the DFL.
    – Matt
    Jul 18, 2011 at 0:39
  • 2
    Recycle Bin is really the only feature that needs an FFL bump Jul 23, 2011 at 17:44

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