I have a business Network with about 40 PC's and two Server 2003 Std both Domain controllers. One (The Club Server) is the PDC.

The Network supports two associated businesses and each server is dedicated to one business and holds all the resorces (Softwar and Folders) for that business.

I need to move the Business's to a new physical location, but in two stages. The Club Server and about 15 PC's now, then in a months time the "Bay server" and the remaining PC's. While the Servers are apart the two businesses must not comunicate and run as completly stand alone Domains / Networks.

Problem is how to extract the Club Server (PDC) which is running all FSMO. If I transfer FSMO to second Server (Bay Server) fine, but what will happen when I install the Club Server at its new Location? How do I reinstall it as PDC for new Network. Need to keep same same Domain name.

When I come to move the Bay Server in a months time I cannot downgrade it from DC as it will be the only server and what will happen when I join it back to the New network with the Club Server PDC


First, no such thing as a "PDC" in an Active Directory Domain. The PDC in an NT 4 domain was a FULL READ/WRITE copy of the accounts database and a BDC was a READ ONLY copy. In AD, ALL DCs are Read/Write. 2008 Adds Read-Only DCs, but those can be more finely tuned than a BDC, holding only selected user accounts, among other things.

A month SHOULD be fine. In a small network like that, it's unlikely you'd have a problem where a server would run out of necessary resources that the FSMO Role holders manage. In theory, you should be able to have the two servers separated without concern and really do nothing other than separate them and reconnect them.

Things I wouldn't try while they are separated: 1. Adding anything that otherwise requires Schema modifications, such as Exchange or a 2008 DC. 2. Don't create any new objects - including Group Policies, Users, Groups, Don't replace (or disconnect/reconnect) computers in the domain. While doing a few of these would likely work fine, I would keep the changes to an absolute minimum. 3. Tell people NOT to change their passwords during this time.

Frankly, I would strongly recommend getting a couple of cheap VPN routers (like the netgear FVS118) and setup a VPN between the sites so you could allow AD to replicate properly (you'd just have to change the IP Subnet at one site.

(Why is it you don't want these systems communicating while separate? Understanding this may help us provide a better answer)

Ultimately, if you MUST do this the way your describing, I would leave the server with the FSMO roles (or move the FSMO roles to the appropriate server) so that the FSMO role holding DC stays with the largest number of PCs. This is to minimize any potential issues later. Which is better - troubleshooting/reinstalling 15 PC or 25 PCs?

  • The Club Serv Business will continue into the future. The Bay Serv Business will end, but will require the Accounts and HR records to be maintained for a couple of years. Hense when the Bay Server rejoins the Club Network it will be there as a Archive machine. As a test I wound down the Club Server with all it's associated business PC's switched off. THe Bay Server business PC's could not login lost all their network conectivity to the BayServ and could not access files onthe server-chaos! I thought that maybe Transfering the FSMO Roles to Bay wouldbe the answer, MS says Club wont work – user16903 Aug 16 '09 at 18:45
  • Well, PDC emulator master is a FSMO role in Active Directory. Some people still say PDC for short. – MDMarra Aug 16 '09 at 22:15
  • @MarkM: And it's an annoyingly imprecise and "loaded" term. There are no "PDC's" in Active Directory. – Evan Anderson Aug 17 '09 at 3:41
  • OK guys this is not helping me. Can we take it that any Domain Admin in Server 2003 with Active Directory knows what is going on and should not get confused by the term PDC or BDC, but understand it refers to the FSMO Status of the two Domain Controllers on the Network. If PDC and BDC is confusing you, then you probably cannot help me. – user16903 Aug 17 '09 at 6:56
  • @EA, agreed that it is inaccurate. Just trying to shed some light on what the OP might be trying to convey. – MDMarra Aug 18 '09 at 0:33

It sounds like you would want to set up SMTp replication for your site link (assuming you'll have internet access at both sites) See this link for an overview.

  • Good plan,but for comlex reasons I need the two Networks (businesses) NOT TO comunicate with each other for the month while the two servers are seperated – user16903 Aug 16 '09 at 14:24
  • You can't do SMTP replication between DC's of the same domain. – Evan Anderson Aug 17 '09 at 3:39
  • Right you would need to create a temporary child domain- thus the link to the overview, which was made null by the fact they cannot communicate – Jim B Aug 17 '09 at 16:30

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