Upgrade Domain from 2003 to 2012


  1. Get your current environment ready - Part 1
    Before we do anything we first want to make sure your domain is healthy. You can easily do this by running the utility dcdiag which can perform a full diagnostic and report any issues it finds. Once complete fix any issues you find before continuing.
  2. Get your current environment ready - Part 2
    Before you can add a Windows Server 2012 or 2012 R2 server to your domain you have to make sure your current domain functional level is Server version 2003. If it is not 2003 you will have to raise it to (at minimum) 2003 before you can proceed.
    Open Active Directory Users and Computers, right click on your domain and then select Raise Domain Functional Level. Then check the “Current Domain Functional Level” and make sure it says you are on Windows Server 2003.
  3. Locate which Domain Controller(s) have your FSMO Roles
    Locate all 5 FSMO roles so you know which Domain Controllers are hosting them. Be sure to document exactly which domain controllers host them since we will be referencing this document later. Details on each role and how to locate them are here: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/324801
    Their are a total of 5 roles you need to locate:
    • Schema Master
    • Domain naming master
    • Infrastructure Master
    • Relative ID (RID) Master
    • PDC Emulator
  4. Prepare your Domain for your new Server 2012 R2 Domain Controllers
    You will want to run adprep so your domain schema can handle your new Server 2012 R2 Domain Controllers. The command adprep is located on your Server 2012 disk under the \support\adprep directory. You will want to run the command adprep /forestprep.
  5. Install Windows Server 2012 R2 and make it a Domain Controller
    Previously you would run dcpromo to promote a domain controller. With Server 2012 and Server 2012 R2 dcpromo has been deprecated. Now you add the AD DS role via the Add Roles and Features Wizard or via powershell. Here is a great step by step guide on what you need to do:
    After adding the AD DS role and DNS roles to your new Windows 2012 R2 Server simply click the link under Post-deployment configuration from your server manager titled “Promote this server to a Domain Controller”
    Walk through the wizard and add your new domain controller to your existing domain.
  6. Transfer your FSMO Roles to your new Server 2012 R2 DC's
    Transfer all 5 of your roles to your new Server 2012 R2 Domain Controllers. You can transfer all 5 or one at a time and start demoting your old Server 2003 DC's in the next step. But the key to remember (and this is why you documented your FSMO role locations earlier) is you can NOT demote any of your current domain controllers that have any of your FSMO roles on them. Be sure to transfer them off first before you proceed to DC demotion.
  7. Demote your old Server 2003 Domain Controllers
    Demotion is very easy on Server 2003. Just run dcpromo and walk through the steps. Remember: Do NOT demote any domain controller that has FSMO roles on them.
  8. Raise your Domain Functional Level
    Once all your Server 2003 domain controllers are demoted you can now raise your domain functional level. NOTE: Only raise your domain functional level to the oldest version domain controller on your domain. For example if all your domain controllers are 2012 R2 then you can go all the way to 2012 R2. However if you have a Server 2008 DC then you can only raise the functional level to 2008. You can raise the functional level by opening Active Directory Domains and Trusts. Then right click on your domain and trusts and select “Raise Forest Functional Level”


Congrats! You just migrated from Server 2003 up to Server 2012 or Server 2012 R2 Domain!

Now you can start taking advantage of all the new features introduced in Server 2012 R2 Active Directory! As well as new options in Group Policy.



The Adprep.exe that is included with Windows Server 2012 supports remote updates of the forest and domain. There is no longer any requirement to run Adprep.exe on the existing Schema Master or Infrastructure Master domain controllers.

To update your domain, follow these steps:

  • Install Windows Server 2012.
  • Run the Adprep.exe that is included on the Windows Server 2012 installation media in the following location:
  • Use the arguments for the function that you need to perform. For example, use the following arguments:

Windows Server 2012 Adprep.exe also removes the requirement to join a domain. You can use the /Forest, /Domain, /Userdomain, and /Password arguments to remotely update forests and domains even from a workgroup as long as you have the correct Domain Name System (DNS) name resolution. Also, just installing and configuring the first Windows Server 2012 domain controller into a forest runs the preparation process automatically, and in this scenario, you do not have to use adprep.exe.

Last modified:: 2016/03/19 16:03