June 27, 2008 5:05 PM   Subscribe

Networking: What are some things to bear in mind when promoting a Windows workgroup to a small domain?

Server 2003, five XP Pro boxes... one IIS server (XPP as well). I was planning to use Files and settings transfer wizard on each XP box before promoting the server. Should be really straightforward... but I could use some advice if you have any.
posted by chuckdarwin to Computers & Internet (4 answers total)
Backup all your data before you do anything. You're not likely to run into major problems, but make sure you have a fallback plan in case something does go wrong.

Promoting the server to a DC won't affect the PCs. You'll need to join them to the domain separately to be able to logon. Once you join them to the domain, they'll get the new profiles and at that point you'll need to have transferred the information over. My point is that you don't necessarily have to run the FAST wizard on your PCs before you promote the DC (though it can't hurt). If you can, name your domain something different from your workgroup. This isn't critical, but having different names may help you resolve any problems you have with name resolution, domain membership, etc.

If your users are used to saving data on their desktops, you really ought to setup home directories and show them how to store their data on the server. Lastly, you're much better off with two domain controllers in case one fails, so you might consider installing Windows Server on your IIS box and making it a second DC. The second DC doesn't have to be anything fancy. I'm assuming this is not an Internet-facing IIS server.
posted by cnc at 5:58 PM on June 27, 2008

Promote a second server to serve as a backup Domain Controller in addition to the main DC. It is fairly painless (they will replicate the Active Directory between themselves) and a hardware failure on the DC without a secondary backup controller is not something I want to go through again.
posted by spatula at 5:58 PM on June 27, 2008

Extending a bit on spatula's advice: yes, back up the user data. If you only have 5 users on 5 XP machines you should educate the users on the change beforehand. Help them help you by examining where they store their files, email, favorites, etc. Examine their profile folders & find out what/where the critical data is. Some people live and die with 'Recent Documents', and don't know what 'Save as.. means. using Outlook? make sure you track down that .pst file.

You can run DCPROMO on the server, give them all user accounts, and then use those new credentials to connect them to a share drive on the server to backup their stuff, while they are still using their workgroup accounts. (BTW, make sure DNS is OK.) Then join the workstations to the domain, log in on the domain accounts, and transfer the data back.

So, if its just 5 machines, you can kinda brute-force the change. just make sure you have your permissions straight on the share folders, local admin accounts on the workstations, etc, before you begin.
posted by TDIpod at 10:31 PM on June 27, 2008

Agree with having a backup DC. What's your goal in using the domain- what problem are you trying to solve? Because the restrictive nature of a domain might end up causing more troubles that its worth.
posted by gjc at 6:57 AM on June 28, 2008

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