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Promoting Windows Server 2003 to Domain Controller

written by: Jesma•edited by: Christian Cawley•updated: 6/17/2009

One of the most important roles in a Windows 2003 network is that of the Domain Controller. This guide walks you through the process of promoting a server to the role of Domain Controller in a new forest.

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    Adding the Domain Controller Role

    To add the Domain Controller role to your Windows Server 2003, first open the Manage Your Server page from the Administrative Tools section of the Start Menu.

    1. Click the Add or Remove A Role link. This loads the Configure Your Server Wizard. Click Next to get to the Server Role selection page.

    2. Select Domain Controller (Active Directory) from the server roles list and click Next. Click Next past the Summary of Selections page.

    3. The Active Directory Installation Wizard will now launch. Click Next through the Welcome Page.

    4. On the Operating System Compatibility page, read through it and make sure your computer meets the minimum system requirements.

    5. On the next page, you'll be prompted to select the Domain Controller type. The options are pretty self explanatory - just choose whether you're installing a child domain, new domain tree or new forest, or if the domain controller will be used as an additional one in an existing domain. For the sake of this guide, we'll assume a new domain controller.

    6. On the Create New Domain page, we'll assume a single domain in a new forest. Click Next.

    7. On the New Domain Name page, you'll need to input the DNS name for the new domain. This should be relevant to your organization: Something like like, or Click Next.

    8. On the NetBIOS Domain Name page, it should by default input the same chosen name minus the .com/org/net etc. extension.

    9. On the next screen, you'll have the option of choosing where to install the database and log folders. If you have a large partition with the operating system installed on it, you can leave it as default. If you chose the minimal sized partition, however, you may want to configure these to store on your data partition. After clicking Next, the same principle applies to the Shared System Volume (SYSVOL) location. Click Next again.

    10. At this stage, the wizard will detect if there is or is not a DNS server already on the network. If there is none, select "Install and configure the DNS server on this computer, and set this computer to use this DNS server as its preferred DNS server." Click Next.

    11. On the Permissions page, select the option most appropriate for your network, and click Next.

    12. On the Active Directory Services Restore Mode Administrator Password, input a complex password of your selection. You may want to make this password different than the main Administrator Password if restore duties will be delegated to lower level admins. Click Next.

    13. Confirm that the options you desire have been selected correctly, then click Next. The wizard then installs and configures the Domain Controller role and DNS Services.

    14. On the next screen that pops up, click Finish. Restart the computer when prompted. When the server reboots, you will be notified by the Server Configuration Wizard that your server is now a Domain Controller. Congratulations!