I am looking to rename a Domain Controller. Functional level and everything else means I can use netdom to carry out the process. Looking a the technet article on the subject I can see the first step is to add the name to the domain controller:

netdom computername <CurrentComputerName> /add:<NewComputerName> 

The second step is to then make the new name primary:

netdom computername <CurrentComputerName> /makeprimary:<NewComputerName> 

Before removing the old name after replication etc:

netdom computername <NewComputerName> /remove:<OldComputerName> 

To enable a smooth transition I was thinking of retaining the old name to avoid any systems that reference the OldComputerName to still connect while they are tracked down. By omitting the step to remove the old name will I be fundamentally breaking the way it is designed to work? In my mind it would create a new SRV record for the new name and the old record would still exist. But I am not sure if this would break replication of AD (Server 2008 DFL/FFL with 2008 and R2 boxes).

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    Why rename a domain controller at all? I can't help by thinking that you're going about... whatever... incorrectly. Jul 1, 2014 at 14:33
  • well the previous names are all site specific and are several iterations old now. the plan was to update the name to reference two office moves without having to deploy a new dc (and all the roles that this particular one hosts). In my eyes a rename would be a lesser impact but I may be wrong
    – user35213
    Jul 1, 2014 at 14:35
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    Alright, well, for starters, a domain controller should be very quick to stand up, which is why it's generally better to create a new one than rename/move/mess around with an old one - it's cleaner. Which brings us to the other problem, which is that your Domain Controller should just be a Domain controller. Not a server you pile as many roles onto as possible. (And just in general, it's better to have single-role/function servers than pile everything you can onto a single OS.) Jul 1, 2014 at 14:44
  • Understand about the roles. My main concern is the TS License Server that I do not want to mess around with. From what I gather this should be hosted on a Domain Controller. But TheCleaner has highlighted the main reason for me querying it.
    – user35213
    Jul 1, 2014 at 15:16

3 Answers 3


It sounds like you want to avoid building a new machine with your current naming conventions. This may create more work than anticipated.

There are many items in AD DS that are tied to your DC's name. I am not sure that everything in DNS would be updated once you changed the name. A cleaner and more controllable approach would be to stand up a new Machine with the computer name you want Promote to a Domain Controller. You can then move roles to the new DC, power off the old box wait. If a problem comes up all you need to do is Power up the old DC instead of Backing out the Name change change.

When doing anything to a DC with regard to ComputerName it is always better to stand up a new box (VM or physical) for the single reason of having a clean backout plan.


To enable a smooth transition I was thinking of retaining the old name to avoid any systems that reference the OldComputerName to still connect while they are tracked down

Rename the DC as planned and add a CNAME for the old name into DNS. Domain authentication will use the new name even for clients that were authenticating off the old. Don't mess with SRV records, etc. Your real request is to make sure that clients that were connecting to the old FQDN for some reason (server shares perhaps? Some app hosted on that DC?) still can access it via that FQDN. Which a CNAME will provide just fine.

  • Thanks for this. My real request at the heart is indeed to make sure clients can connect via an old name reference. Not a perfect world I know. It is what it is though. Did not realise a CNAME would suffice in this case and had, wrongly, assumed it would need an SRV of the old and new name to function for both. I was curious though about would multiple assigned names lead to a major break down though.
    – user35213
    Jul 1, 2014 at 15:21

Actually, the whole netdom bit is quite unnecessary; you can safely rename the DC from the System Properties dialog box, just like any other Windows machine.

Be sure to reboot it two times, though, to make sure all references both in AD and DNS are updated correctly.

Don't, I repeat don't, mess with SRV records; they are managed automatically by AD, and you shouldn't ever need to manually edit them.

If there are other services on that server (which shouldn't be there in the first place), usually a DNS CNAME will suffice; but some services are more tricky that others: SQL Server f.e. doesn't play well with computer renames (it can be done but not so easily), and an Exchange server or a Certification Authority can't be renamed at all.

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