How can I rename the DNS name of a Windows 2000 domain?

John Savill

February 25, 2002

2 Min Read
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A. To rename the DNS name of a Win2K domain, you must meet the following conditions:

  • Your domain must be in mixed mode.

  • You must have at least one Windows NT 4.0 BDC or have the ability to create an NT 4.0 BDC.

The process of renaming the DNS name requires demoting all Win2K domain controllers (DCs) to servers and temporarily promoting the BDC to the PDC. Keep in mind the following considerations before attempting this process:

  • Only the domain account information and password will be saved, and any extra Active Directory (AD) information will be lost.

  • When you demote all your Win2K DCs, you'll lose your load-balancing and fault-tolerance configurations.

  • All child domains must be in mixed mode so that you can demote them to NT 4.0 domains.

  • You can't change a domain's NetBIOS name.

You must demote the child domains first, starting with the lowest domains in the hierarchy (e.g., you need to apply changes to before applying changes to To demote the domains to NT 4.0, perform the following steps on each domain:

  1. Perform a full backup of the domain.

  2. Ensure the NT 4.0 BDC is up-to-date by typing

    net accounts /sync 
  3. Review the system log to ensure the BDC update was successful.

  4. Use Dcpromo to demote each Win2K DC in the domain until only one Win2K DC is left running.

  5. Detach the last Win2K DC from the network (after you disconnect this system, you can run Dcpromo; however, you might need to plug the machine into another hub or switch for Dcpromo to function).

  6. Use the Server Manager application to promote the NT 4.0 BDC to PDC. Although the application will say it can't find the PDC, click Yes to continue.

After you demote domains (child and parent) to NT 4.0, you can begin to upgrade the systems to Win2K, starting with the highest machine in the hierarchy and working down (e.g., you need to apply changes to first, apply changes to second, and finally apply changes to To rename the DNS server, upgrade the NT 4.0 PDC first, giving it the new DNS name. Then, run Dcpromo again on all other Win2K servers that were previously DCs and associate them with the new DNS domain.

Obviously this process is highly complex and time consuming, and Microsoft doesn't recommend that you attempt this procedure. If you're considering renaming your DNS server, keep in mind that Windows .NET Server (formerly code-named Whistler) lets you use the random.exe utility to rename the DNS server. So, you might want to consider upgrading to .NET Server, which also lets you rename the NetBIOS domain name.

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