Step-By-Step: Active Directory Migration from Windows Server 2008 R2 to Windows Server 2012 R2

With the end of support for Windows Server 2003 creeping towards us, many IT professionals has taken an interest in our previous post entitled Step-By-Step on Active Directory migration from Windows Server 2003 to Windows Server 2012 R2. Others who are currently running Windows Server 2008 R2 have notably been a little more relaxed but have too taken an interest in what Windows Server 2012 R2 and its inherent gateway to the cloud capability and with good reason.  If you were lucky enough to attend TechEd 2014 you have come to understand the importance of what Azure has to offer and how it can enable the organization you support.  As mentioned, Windows Server 2012 R2 provides a great first step towards cloud adoption. In addition to this the ability to allow your organization to take advantage of capabilities such as Active Directory Recycle Bin improvements, DHCP failover, Dynamic Access Control, Hyper-V replication and much more.

This Step-By-Step was created to ease IT professionals into this enablement.  Migrating Active Directory off your existing Windows 2008 R2 server and onto a new Windows 2012 R2 server will serve a small step for your IT department and a giant leap for your organization.


  1. Download Windows Server 2012 R2. You also have the ability to complete this Step-By-Step in a virtual lab by downloading Hyper-V Server 2012 for free.
  2. As a precaution, complete a full backup of your existing server.
  3. Check the Schema version of AD DS (Before adprep) by running regedit, navigating to Computer\HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\services\NTDS\Parameters and noting the current Schema version.


Step 1: Preparing your existing forest via the adprep command

  1. Insert the Windows Server 2012 DVD into the DVD drive of the Windows Server 2008 R2 AD DS.
  2. Open command prompt, and type adprep /forestprep and press enter.
  3. Check the Schema version of AD DS (After adprep) by running regedit, navigating to Computer\HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\services\NTDS\Parameters and noting the current Schema version.

Step 2: Promoting the Windows Server 2012 Server domain controller

  1. Complete Step-By-Step: Adding a Windows Server 2012 Domain Controller to an Existing Windows Server 2003 network


Step 3: Verify the new Windows Server 2012 Domain Controller

  1. Open Active Directory Users and Computers, expand <Your Domain> and click the Domain Controller OU to verify your server is listed.
  2. Open DNS Manager, right-click on <Your Domain>, select Properties and then click Name Servers Tab. Verify that your server is listed in Name Servers: lists.
  3. Open Active Directory Sites and Services; verify that your server is listed in Servers under Default-First-Site-Name.


Step 4: Transferring the Flexible Single Master Operations (FSMO) Role


  1. Open the Active Directory Users and Computers console on your new Windows Server 2012 computer.

  2. Right click your domain and select Operations Masters in the sub menu.

  3. In the Operations Masters window, ensure the RID tab is selected.

  4. Select the Change button.
  5. Select Yes when asked about transferring the operations master role.

  6. Once the operations master role has successfully transferred, click OK to continue.

  7. Ensure the Operations Master box now shows your new 2012 Windows Server.

  8. Repeat steps 4 to 6 for the PDC and Infrastructure tabs.

  9. Once completed, click Close to close the Operations Masters window.

  10. Close the Active Directory Users and Computers window.

Step 5: Removing the Windows 2008 R2 domain controller

  1. On the Windows 2008 R2 server click Start, Click Run, type dcpromo, then click OK.
  2. After the Welcome to the Active Directory Installation Wizard page, be sure to leave the Delete the domain because this server is the last domain controller in the domain unchecked.
  3. On the Administrator Password Page, enter your password and click Next.
  4. On the Summary page, click Next, wait for the process to end, then click Finish.
  5. On the Completing the Active Directory Domain Services Installation Wizard, click Finish.
  6. On the Active Directory Domain Services Installation Wizard page, click Restart Now to Restart the server.
  7. After the reboot is completed, delete the Windows Server 2008 R2 server from the domain to a workgroup and remove any unnecessary record from Active Directory Sites and Services.


Now that you have successfully dabbled in taking advantage of Windows Server 2012 R2, why not invest a little more time to learn the further advantages your organization's new server offering can enable.  Visit Microsoft Virtual Academy and complete the What's New in Windows Server 2012 R2 Jump Start and get your head in the clouds.

Comments (8)
  1. Britt Adams says:

    Good information but the title is very misleading, a domain migration is not the same thing as adding a newer AD server and migrating the roles over.

    1. Ford Prefect says:

      This is a migration. What you are referring to is an in-place upgrade. Going from 2003 or 2008 to 2012 is not the same as going from NT 4.0 to 2003 where you had to upgrade the OS of the PDC. It is not best practice to do an in-place upgrade.

  2. Shakiel says:

    Awesome stuff

  3. Diop says:

    I m doing my studies in IT network,and this information is usefull

  4. Mahendran says:

    Very Nice Explanation …Its very useful for me

  5. MARATHONIT says:

    Britt: Please explain. Seems like adding a newer AD server and migrating the roles over (and removing the old server) is exactly what a domain migration is. What am I missing?


    Thanks a lot!, Very good article.

Comments are closed.

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