Windows Tip Sheet
DCpromo Tips, Take Two
Two simple tricks to make DC promotion go down quick and easy.
After my January tip on automating the DCpromo process, I got a lot of e-mail
asking for more specifics. Your wish being my command, of course, here’s
You’ll start with a traditional unattended Setup file, just like you’d
use for a non-DC. Add two new sections: [DCInstall] and [GUIRunOnce]. You’ll
also need to create a separate answer file for DCpromo to use.
Add something like dcpromo /answer:dcpromo_answer_filename
to the [GUIRunOnce] section; in the [DCInstall] section, you’ll add several
parameters as documented in the unattended Setup manual (Unattended.doc, which
can be found on the Windows CD under Support Tools’ Deploy.cab file).
Short, sweet and simple. But another trick—available with Win2003—is
to automate DCpromo so that it replicates its initial AD database from media,
and not over the network. This is a great idea if you’re deploying new
DCs in a large domain and there’s only a WAN link between the new DC and
the closest existing DC. Rather than bringing the WAN to its knees, you can
just grab a recent AD backup from media (e.g., CD), leaving the new DC to just
replicate what’s changed since the backup was made.
To make your backup, use Windows Backup to back up files and settings, grabbing
just the System State of a domain controller. Save the backup to a disk, and
then burn it to CD, DVD or whatever you’ve got handy; even a big USB flash
drive will work. You’ll need to restore the backup to an alternate location
(like the drive of a new DC, or another CD/DVD/USB drive) to use the backup
in the Dcpromo process. If you’re manually installing the new DC, run
dcpromo /adv to make the “From these restored
backup files” option available during Dcpromo; point the Wizard to the
restored files and you’re golden.
To automate the process, add the following to your Dcpromo answer file:
Neat trick, and easy to pull off!
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- Read more about automating DCpromo here.
- Learn to combine unattended Setup and unattended DCpromo here.
- The official word on unattended DC promotion is here.
Don Jones is a multiple-year recipient of Microsoft’s MVP Award, and is Curriculum Director for IT Pro Content for video training company Pluralsight. Don is also a co-founder and President of PowerShell.org, a community dedicated to Microsoft’s Windows PowerShell technology. Don has more than two decades of experience in the IT industry, and specializes in the Microsoft business technology platform. He’s the author of more than 50 technology books, an accomplished IT journalist, and a sought-after speaker and instructor at conferences worldwide. Reach Don on Twitter at @concentratedDon, or on Facebook at Facebook.com/ConcentratedDon.