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Recently my small, aged private office Windows Server 2008 machine failed. Unfortunately, the machine was my primary domain controller and I don't have any type of secondary domain controller in the mix.

I have backups of all the important data from the system (databases, etc.). So what I'd like to do is simply replace the server, but I'm unclear on how to transfer PDC responsibilities to a new system (keeping in mind that the old one is no longer available). I want to keep the existing domain (and netbios) names exactly the same so that my various workstations can continue logging in as they did before.

Is this possible, and if so, how do I go about it?

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    If your backup includes system state, then you should be able to just restore it to a different computer and be done. Have you tried that?
    – longneck
    Commented Dec 31, 2014 at 19:04

2 Answers 2

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  1. Stop using terminology that hasn't been in use in 14+ years. Domain Controllers are no longer referred to as PDC and BDC.

  2. If the server is unrecoverable then you'll need to create a new domain on a new server. You can create it using the same FQDN and NetBIOS name as the previous domain but you'll need to join all of the clients to the new domain. There's no way to make them members of the new domain simply by naming the new domain the same as the old domain.

  3. Make sure you create at least 2 domain controllers for the new domain so that you can avoid this problem in the future.

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    And new user accounts will mean new passwords, new SIDs, etc. so new NTFS permissions setup on any file shares.
    – TheCleaner
    Commented Dec 31, 2014 at 17:09
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    And unless the OP requires a domain for certain functions, they may consider not even replacing the server with a new DC and just using a workgroup instead. The setup sounds very small overall.
    – TheCleaner
    Commented Dec 31, 2014 at 17:12
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I have backups of all the important data from the system (databases, etc.). So what I'd like to do is simply replace the server, but I'm unclear on how to transfer PDC responsibilities to a new system (keeping in mind that the old one is no longer available).

You do a system state restore, like longneck said. You haven't told us about your backups and backup software, but if your software supports a full, bare-metal restore, or a system state restore, you should be able to do that.

If your hardware is unrecoverable, you might be able to:

  1. Restore to a temporary location (a spare machine, or a VM).
  2. Get your new, replacement server, and run dcpromo on it. Join it to the existing domain.
  3. Decommission the temporary, restored old DC.

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