Jul 27 2012

Upgrading an Active Directory Domain from Windows Server 2008 or Windows Server 2008 R2 to Windows Server 2012 or Windows Server 2012 R2


A new OS Domain Controller installation should always start with use from the support tools to check the Domain and Domain Controllers for errors that must be resolved before. The following command line tools and programs will help you to verify if some problems exist within your Domain and the Domain Controllers.

Dcdiag /v /c /d /e /s:DCName >c:\dcdiag.log [please replace DCName with your Domain Controller name]

Repadmin /showrepl dc* /verbose /all /intersite >c:\repl.log [“dc* is a place holder for the starting name of the DCs if they all begin the same (if more than one DC exists)]

Dnslint /ad /s “DCipaddress” [use http://support.microsoft.com/kb/321045 for download and instructions]

ADREPLSTATUS: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=30005


On the old server open DNS management console and check that you are running Active directory integrated zones, which is recommended also from Microsoft.


The Schema must be updated for the new OS Domain Controller, so even if the update is done automatically you may check it before. Therefore you can use the following command:

“Dsquery * cn=schema,cn=configuration,dc=domain,dc=local -scope base -attr objectVersion” without the quotes in a command prompt [please replace “dc=domain,dc=local” with your Domain Name]. The output number is the Schema objectVersion:

13 = Windows 2000 Server

30 = Windows Server 2003

31 = Windows Server 2003 R2

44 = Windows Server 2008

47 = Windows Server 2008 R2

56 = Windows Server 2012

69 = Windows Server 2012 R2


If the first installed Domain Controller in the domain should be removed or replaced with another one, doesn’t matter if new or same OS version, assure that you export the recovery agents EFS certificate private key from the Domain Controller BEFORE you demote/retire it. Details on how to do this are listed in (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/241201) and (http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc755157(WS.10).aspx). If you don’t save it, you will not be able to encrypt data in case of problems.


I recommend installing the new machine as a member server in your existing domain before promoting to Domain Controller. Configure a fixed ip address and set the preferred DNS server to one existing DC/DNS server only. Do not change anything with IPv6, as also recommended from Microsoft in http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/magazine/2009.07.cableguy.aspx
Do NOT use the new server as DNS server on the NIC until all DNS information is replicated from one existing DC/DNS. If you do it with other DNS servers on the NIC I often have seen that the SYSVOL and NETLOGON shares are not correct created.


As this article applies in most steps to Windows Server 2008 32bit/64bit and Windows Server 2008 R2, I’ll start with the difference on Windows Server 2008 32bit preparation.

To install a new OS Domain Controller adprep is required and located in the Windows server 2012 or Windows server 2012 R2 installation disk …\support\adprep folder. Here you can also find the schema files. You will realize that there is ONLY adprep.exe and not adprep32.exe anymore. This belongs to the reason that adprep process on earlier OS domains is done automatically during promotion to DC.

If you run adprep.exe on the 32bit OS Domain Controller you will see an error message:


So on Windows Server 2008 32bit you have to prepare the forest/domain with the new way remote from Windows Server 2012 or Windows server 2012 R2.

With the 64bit version from adprep you can still work on Windows Server 2008 64bit and Windows Server 2008 R2 DCs for the Schema update.


So both options are possible, from the command line on Windows Server 2008 R2 or during promotion process from the Windows Server 2012 or Windows server 2012 R2.


The minimum functional level must be at least Windows Server 2003, so NO lower functional levels are allowed anymore.

Please control that the Domain functional level is set to Windows Server 2003, in AD Domains and Trusts right click the “Domain Name”.


Also control that the Forest functional level is set to Windows Server 2003, in AD Domains and Trusts right click “Active Directory Domains and Trusts”.



If you run as known before DCPROMO on a new Windows Server 2012 or Windows server 2012 R2 you will get an error message as this is not longer the way to promote a DC. Now the promotion to Domain Controller is done via Server Manager.



In this article I will focus on the new remote way with using the Windows Server 2012 or Windows server 2012 R2, as this is much more error free and comfortable to use.

Assure to use an account that is member of the Enterprise Admins and install the new Windows Server 2012 or Windows server 2012 R2 as Domain Member Server if not done already. Now start the Server Manager and choose “Add roles and features”, in “Before you begin” click next, in the “Installation Type” use “Role-based or feature-based installation” and click Next.


Choose the required Server and click Next


Now check the Active Directory Domain Services and in the upcoming window click the “Add features” button.


Choose Next and add additional features if required.


Click Next.


Click Next and then choose Install.



It may take some time, depending on the hardware.


If the installation is done be aware of the “Promote this server to a domain controller” option in the result pane


Again a new window opens to configure the DC with all requirements


Here choose Select and provide the domain credentials or use the already shown account. If you have the need using a smart card, then the server MUST be joined to the domain BEFORE.


Select the domain from the list and click OK.


Click Next.


The Domain controller Options appear and here choose DNS and GC and fill in the DSRM Restore mode password. Then choose Next.


In this step the DNS delegation warning can be ignored, as the Domain Controller is for the already existing domain.


Choose Next and either use the default or select a preferred DC to replicate from. Even IFM (Install from media) is possible at this step.


Do NOT store the Active Directory database, log files, or SYSVOL on a data volume formatted with Resilient File System (ReFS), this is new with Windows Server 2012 or Windows server 2012 R2 Database, Log file and SYSVOL folder paths must be stored on NTFS data volumes in this window and then choose Next.


Information about forest, schema and domain update is shown where you also choose Next.


Review your settings, even possible to export as Windows PowerShell script for future use and click Next.


Prerequisite checks will be done.


Review the Check and click Install.





Results are listed/shown


The server automatically reboots after installation/promotion.


After adding a Windows Server 2012 or Windows server 2012 R2 Domain Controller to an existing domain you should also transfer the FSMO roles to the newest Domain Controller

In this case 6 new security groups are created in the BUILTIN container in AD UC:

– Access Control Assistance Operators

– Hyper-V Administrators

– RDS Endpoint Servers

– RDS Management Servers

– RDS Remote Access Servers

– Remote Management Users

And 1 new security group in the Users container in AD UC:

– Cloneable Domain Controllers


You can see in the event viewer (Directory service log) that the FSMO roles are transferred, EVENT ID 1458 with the source ActiveDirectory_DomainService for each FSMO role.


After the transfer from the PDCEmulator FSMO it is required to reconfigure the time service on the old and new PDCEmulator, so a recommended external time source is used:

“w32tm /config /manualpeerlist:PEERS /syncfromflags:manual /reliable:yes /update”

where PEERS will be filled with the ip address or server (time.windows.com) and on the OLD PDCEmulator run:

“w32tm /config /syncfromflags:domhier /reliable:no /update”

and stop/start the time service on the old one. All commands run in an elevated command prompt without the quotes.


If not done on earlier OS version upgrades run ONLY the adprep /domainprep /gpprep, to enable the RSOP planning mode, manual as this is NOT involved in the automated process.


Reconfigure the DNS configuration on your NIC of the Windows Server 2012 or Windows server 2012 R2 machine, preferred DNS to a partner DNS Server, secondary to its own ip address and as recommended from DNS BPA the loopback ip address( as 3rd entry.


Related documents:

Adprep in Windows Server 2012 http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh472161.aspx

View and transfer from FSMO Roles http://support.microsoft.com/kb/324801 this article still applies for Windows Server 2012.

Time configuration in a domain http://msmvps.com/blogs/mweber/archive/2010/06/27/time-configuration-in-a-windows-domain.aspx

ReFS in Windows Server 2012 http://blogs.msdn.com/b/b8/archive/2012/01/16/building-the-next-generation-file-system-for-windows-refs.aspx

3 responses so far

3 Responses to “Upgrading an Active Directory Domain from Windows Server 2008 or Windows Server 2008 R2 to Windows Server 2012 or Windows Server 2012 R2”

  1.   VJPon 01 Jun 2013 at 01:44

    Nice Article… I have one ? ..We have Server 2008R2 environment for all DC’s and want to introduce Server 2012 as RODC. Is it possible ? if yes ..do we really need to transfer FSMO roles to this RODC. During DC promotion ..will it update the schema as well ?


  2.   Tony Holopainenon 03 Mar 2014 at 03:28

    ObjectVersion is 69 for 2012R2 🙂


  3.   Dougon 08 Oct 2014 at 19:53

    The images links seem to be broken…any chance you can fix?


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