Step-By-Step: Migrating Windows Server 2003 FSMO Roles To Windows Server 2012 R2


With it being over 10 years since the Windows Server 2003 release, there is now less than 5 months left as of the time of this post was published for official Microsoft support.

This guide was created as additional resource addressing the need to transfer DC FSMO roles from windows server 2003 to windows server 2012 R2. In Windows DC environment, FSMO roles hold all the required information regarding the DC. It is a necessity to have all this 5 roles working correctly to maintain proper DC environment. The roles in question are as follows:

  • Schema master
  • Domain naming master
  • RID master
  • PDC emulator
  • Infrastructure master

The following setup is used for this demonstration:

Server Name
Operating System
Server Roles
canitpro-dc2k3.canitpro.local
Windows server 2003 SP2 x86
Active Directory FSMO roles, DNS
CANITPRO-DC2K12.canitpro.local
Windows server 2012 R2 x64
Additional Domain Controller, DNS

In this example, the windows 2012 r2 server is already added to the domain and promoted to an additional domain controller.

FSMO Role 1

Note : Before adding Windows Server 2008 to a Windows Server 2003 environment, preparation of the forest and domain schema by running adprep \forestprep and adprep \domainprep  from windows 2008 source files \ support \ adprep is required. In Windows Server 2012 R2 you do not need to worry about it when adding said server as additional domain controller. When you run the dcpromo it will automatically update it in Windows Server 2003 machine remotely.

Step 1: Transferring the RID master, PDC emulator and Infrastructure Master Roles
 
As the first step let’s look how we can transfer these 3 roles over to new server.

  1. Log in to the windows 2012 R2 server as domain administrator
     
  2. Click on Server Manager > Tools > Active Directory Users and Computers
     
    FSMO Role 2
     
  3. In MMC, right click on the domain name then click on Operation Masters
     
    FSMO Role 3
     
  4. In next window it will show the 3 FSMO roles. The default is PDC. In there it shows the current PDC holder. Then it is asking if need to change it to new windows 2012 r2 server click on Change.
     
    FSMO Role 4
     
  5. Click Yes to continue
     
    FSMO Role 5
     
  6. Once its confirm as operation completed we can see the window shows the current PDC role holder as new windows 2012 r2 server
     
    FSMO Role 6
     
  7. Please repeat the same steps to transfer the RID master and Infrastructure master Roles
     

Step 2: Transfer domain naming master role

  1. Log in to the windows 2012 R2 server as domain administrator
     
  2. Click on Server Manager > Tools > Active Directory Domains and Trusts
     
    FSMO Role 8
     
  3. In the MMC, right click on Active Directory Domains and Trusts > Operations Master…
     
    FSMO Role 9
     
  4. In here it shows the current domain naming master role holder (canitpro-dc2k3.canitpro.local) and its asking if we need to move it to windows server 2012 R2 (CANITPRO-DC2K12.canitpro.local). Click on change to move the role over
     
    FSMO Role 10
     
  5. Click Yes to continue
     
    FSMO Role 11
     
  6. Once its confirm about task completion we can see current domain naming master is windows server 2012 R2 (CANITPRO-DC2K12.canitpro.local)
     
    FSMO Role 12
     

Step 3: Transfer schema master role

  1. Log in to the windows 2012 R2 server as domain administrator
     
  2. Open the Run window in server (Windows key + R) and type regsvr32 schmmgmt.dll and press enter
     
    FSMO Role 13
     
  3. Click OK to continue
     
    FSMO Role 14
     
  4. Open the Run window again, type mmc and click OK
     
    FSMO Role 15
     
  5. Then in mmc window click on File > Add-Remove Snap-in…
     
    FSMO Role 16
     
  6. Then from snap in select Active Directory Schema and click on the Add button
     
    FSMO Role 17
     
  7. Click on the Ok button to continue
     
    FSMO Role 18
     
  8. Then right click Active Directory Schema and click Change Active Directory Domain Controller
     
    FSMO Role 19
     
  9. In Next window select the windows server 2012 R2 DC (CANITPRO-DC2K12.canitpro.local) and click ok
     
    FSMO Role 20
     
  10. An information message is provided. Click OK to continue
     
    FSMO Role 21
     
  11. Right click Active Directory Schema > Operation Master
     
    FSMO Role 22
     
  12. In here it shows the current schema master role holder (canitpro-dc2k3.canitpro.local) and its asking if we need to move it to windows server 2012 R2 (CANITPRO-DC2K12.canitpro.local). Click Change to move the role over
     
    FSMO Role 23
     
  13. Click Yes to continue
     
    FSMO Role 24
     
  14. Once it’s confirmed, the current schema master will now display windows server 2012 R2 (CANITPRO-DC2K12.canitpro.local)
     
    FSMO Role 25
     

Now we successfully move all . To confirm all 5 FSMO roles have been moved over to the new windows server 2012 R2, open command prompt in said server and type command netdom query fsmo and press enter.

FSMO Role 26
 

It will take some time to move all the data over. After that it’s safe to demote the DC role from the windows 2003 server.
Once demoted, make sure the forest functional level and domain functional level is raised to Windows Server 2012 R2 to experience new changes.

Comments (12)

  1. Tim says:

    Hi, Everything was working perfectly all the way until Step 3, Number 12.
    My change box is grayed out and I can't click it to have it make the change.. Any idea what's up?

    1. Tim says:

      I found out what the problem was, I needed to be added to the schema admin group.

  2. Nicola says:

    It works also for migrate the roles from Windows Server 2003 to Windows Server 2016, great guide

    1. Robert Teal says:

      That is not even possible.. Server 2003 has a max functionality level of, you guessed, 2003. Server 2012 R2 is the last Server OS that can be added as a DC when your primary DC is 2003.

  3. Ed says:

    Everything worked fine. Great Guide. Thank you.

  4. Michael Gruben says:

    This is a phenomenal writeup!

    Worked for 2008 R2 to 2012 R2 transition

  5. Jan says:

    Hello,
    very nice article, worked great, just a quick question, i just migrated fsmo roles from 2k3 to 2008 R2 and all went ok, the migration was successful but now i cannot change forest functional level from 2003 to 2008. How long does it take to move all the data or do i have to demote the old 2003 DC to be able to raise functional level to 2008 R2? Many thanks for help. Jan

    1. Jan says:

      sorry found the reply, thank you very much for this article, very helpful.

      Jan

  6. Kary Ball says:

    Absolutely fantastic instructions. Everything worked perfectly. This was so helpful - I had postponed migrating the DC master role to our new 2012 server for a long time but problems were occurring and I had to do it. Thank you very much.

  7. Transfer FSMO Roles says:

    Thanks for the amazing article.

  8. Excellent! Easy to follow.

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