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This chapter is from the book

Choosing to Upgrade or Make a Clean Installation

A major consideration related to a Windows Server 2003 installation is whether to upgrade in-place servers or do a clean install on a replacement server that will take over the role of a server or servers already on the network. For example, you might be running Windows 2000 Server on a computer that you want to replace (it might have seen better days hardware-wise). You can install Windows Server 2003 on a new server and make it a domain controller in the Windows 2000 domain that already exists. This will allow the new server to replicate all the information in the Active Directory on the Windows 2000 Server (the Windows 2000 Server should have the latest service packs installed). You can then "retire" the Windows 2000 Server and use the Windows Server 2003 as the domain controller for the domain.

Whatever your strategy is for bringing new servers online on an existing network, you must deal with issues related to earlier versions of the Windows network operating system, such as Windows 2000 and Windows NT. The next two sections discuss issues related to upgrading these two versions of Windows server.

Planning for a Windows 2000 Upgrade

Upgrading a server (even a domain controller) from Windows 2000 to Windows Server 2003 is a fairly easy process. Because Windows 2000 and Windows Server 2003 both embrace the Active Directory hierarchy and DNS namespace, the notion of forests, trees, and domains is common to both network operating systems. This means that a radical redesign of the network domain structure is not necessary.

However, you need to keep some things in mind when upgrading Windows 2000 Server to Windows Server 2003. First, you must make sure that the server's hardware is compatible with Windows Server 2003 (as you would for a server that will get a clean installation). It is also important that you have installed Windows 2000 Server Service Pack 2 (or later, if available) on the server to upgrade the files in the Windows 2000 Server installation.

Finally, you must prepare the forest and the domain for the upgrade to Windows Server 2003. This is done using the adprep command-line utility found in the i386 folder on the Windows Server 2003 CD-ROM. You actually have to run this upgrade program on the Schema Master and the Infrastructure Master on the domain. The schema is the database template for the Active Directory and defines the objects that can exist in the Active Directory (such as users, groups, and so on).


On smaller domains with a limited number of domain controllers, the Schema Master and the Infrastructure Master are the same Windows 2000 domain controller.

The Schema Master is typically the first server you brought online using Windows 2000 Server. It is the Schema Master because it defines the Active Directory schema for the domain (the schema being the actual definition of the objects contained in the Active Directory). There is only one Schema Master per Windows 2000 forest (which can be many domains).

The Infrastructure Master is charged with the task of upgrading group and user associations. It keeps track of what groups users belong to. If group membership changes, the Infrastructure Master records this and then replicates it to the other domain controllers in the domain. When you create the first domain in a Windows 2000 forest, that domain controller is assigned the Infrastructure Master status.


To locate the Schema Master in your Windows 2000 domain, install the Active Directory Schema snap-in. It is part of the adminpak tools found in the i386 folder on the Windows 2000 Server CD (it is also in the same place on the Windows Server 2003 CD, but do not install the adminpak.msi file from the 2003 CD on the Windows 2000 server). After installation, open the Active Directory Schema snap-in. In the console tree, right-click Active Directory Schema and then click Operations Master. The name of the current domain-naming master (the Schema Master) appears in Current Operations Master.

Before you upgrade the Schema Master, back up the server and then disconnect this server from the network. Place the Windows Server 2003 CD in the server's CD-ROM drive. Open a command prompt and then switch to the CD's i386 folder. At the prompt, type adprep /forestprep. Then press Enter. If no errors are reported when the utility has completed running, you can hook the Schema Master back up to the network. It then replicates with the Infrastructure Master. (This can take a number of hours or even a day or so on a large network, so be patient.)

When you are ready to upgrade the Infrastructure Master, run the adprep /forestprep command, as outlined for the Schema Master. After giving the Infrastructure Master time to replicate with the other domain controllers on the network, you can then begin upgrading the domain controllers running Windows 2000 Server with Windows Server 2003.

Planning for a Windows NT Upgrade

You can also upgrade a Windows NT domain (or domains) to a Windows Server 2003 domain. The first thing you should do is install NT Service Pack 5 to the servers running Windows NT 4 (also install any service packs on the server that have become available after Service Pack 5). You should also back up domain controllers and other specialized servers before performing the upgrades. In addition, you should check the server hardware to see if it meets the requirements for Windows Server 2003, including hardware compatibility.

In the Windows NT networking environment, one primary domain controller is configured for each domain. The primary domain controller is aided by backup domain controllers that contain a copy of the primary domain controller's database.

You might want to upgrade member servers in the domain first. This enables you to bring services such as the Windows Server 2003 versions of DNS and DHCP online. The first domain controller that must be upgraded in the NT domain is the primary domain controller. You can then upgrade the backup domain controllers (which in the Windows Server 2003 environment are domain controllers because there is no such thing as a backup domain controller).

During the upgrade from Windows NT to Windows Server 2003, you will also want to allow the installation software to upgrade the system partition on your server to NTFS 5. Windows Server 2003 requires it for the Active Directory.


A lengthy discussion of transforming a Windows NT multidomain network into a Windows Server 2003 Active Directory hierarchy is beyond the scope of this book. However, one approach to upgrading multiple NT domains is to set up the Windows Server 2003 network that will replace it and then transfer user accounts and other domain information using a tool called the Active Directory Migration Tool (ADMT). This tool is available with the Windows Server 2003 Resource Kit.

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