How to Change Domain Controller on Windows

How to Change Domain Controller on Windows

Managing network domains on Windows involves various tasks, including switching domain controllers. Domain controllers store user accounts and security information, and they play a crucial role in authentication and authorization within a domain. This article will show you how to switch domain controllers on Windows.

How to Change Domain Controller on Windows

Switching domain controllers on Windows is necessary for various reasons, including heavy network traffic. It helps distribute the load and maintain network operations.

Moreover, switching to a domain controller in a secondary data center aids in disaster recovery and business continuity following a catastrophic event that affects the primary data center.

With this in mind, let’s explore the important considerations before switching domain controllers on Windows.

Things to Know Before Switch Domain Controller on Windows

Switching domain controllers on a Windows network involves important considerations and steps.

How to Change Domain Controller on Windows

Before making any changes to your domain controllers, back up your Active Directory to ensure you can recover if something goes wrong during the migration process.

Configure the new domain controller with the proper roles and features, and ensure it runs a supported version of Windows Server. Update DNS and DHCP settings on client computers and other network devices to point to the new domain controller.

Plan for scheduled downtime during the transition, as users may experience temporary disruptions in network services. Check the event logs frequently and use diagnostic tools promptly to identify and resolve any issues.

Review and update Group Policies to reflect the new domain controller. Ensure client computers are aware of the new domain controller.

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Migrating domain controllers is a complex process that requires careful planning and testing. Following best practices and ensuring a rollback plan is essential in case of unexpected issues during the migration. Let’s begin with the steps.

Finding the current domain controller before switching it on the client’s computer is essential. The steps are simple and easy to follow.

Step 1: Press the Windows key, type Command Prompt, and click ‘Run as administrator.’

How to Change Domain Controller on Windows

Step 2: In the Command Prompt, type the command below and hit Enter. nltest /dsgetdc:domainname

How to Change Domain Controller on Windows

That’s it. The output will display the current domain controller, which you can use to switch on your client’s computer. If you want to know how to switch domain controller, continue reading.

Sometimes, you may need to switch the domain controller for various reasons. Perhaps you are experiencing problems or debugging the domain controller. In these situations, you will need to switch the client controller.

Step 1: Press the Windows key on your keyboard, type Command Prompt, and click ‘Run as administrator.’

How to Change Domain Controller on Windows

Step 2: In the Command Prompt, type the command below and hit Enter. nltest /Server:ClientComputerName/SC_RESET:DomainName\DomainControllerName

How to Change Domain Controller on Windows

Switching the domain controller is a straightforward process. However, it’s important to note that the switch is not permanent and a new domain controller may be selected upon restarting.

If you prefer to set the domain controller via registry, please continue reading.

This method is not straightforward, but the steps are simple. However, because we will be using Registry Editor, we strongly advise you to back up the Windows Registry before proceeding.

Step 1: Open the Start menu, type “Registry Editor,” and click ‘Run as administrator.’

Note: Alternatively, press ‘Windows key + R’ to open the Run dialog box, type “regedit.exe,” and click OK to open Registry Editor.

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In the prompt, select Yes.

How to Change Domain Controller on Windows

When following step 2, enter the provided address in the address bar. You can manually navigate to the section as well.

How to Change Domain Controller on Windows

Step 3: Under Parameters, right-click, select New, and choose String Value.

How to Change Domain Controller on Windows

Step 4: Type SiteName in the name field and hit Enter.

How to Change Domain Controller on Windows

Step 5: Edit String pop-up, enter domain controller name you want your system to connect. Example- DC1.mydomain.com.

How to Change Domain Controller on Windows

The domain controller has been set using the Windows Registry. If you are unable to set the domain controller in the Registry, continue reading to learn how to force clients to use a specific domain controller.

How to Force Client to Use Specific Domain Controller

If you haven’t already, back up the Windows Registry and follow the instructions below.

Step 1: Open the Start menu, type “Registry Editor”, and click ‘Run as administrator.’

Note: Alternatively, press Windows key + R to open the Run dialog box, type “regedit.exe”, and click OK to open Registry Editor.

In the prompt, select Yes.

How to Change Domain Controller on Windows

Step 2: Enter the mentioned address in the top address bar.

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\Netlogon\Parameters

Note: You can also manually navigate to the section.

How to Change Domain Controller on Windows

Step 3: Under Parameters, right-click, select New, and choose ‘DWORD (32-bit) Value.’

How to Change Domain Controller on Windows

Step 4: Type NodeType in the name field.

How to Change Domain Controller on Windows

Step 5: Double-click the new value, type 4 in the Value Data field, and press OK.

Note: The value 4 in the Value Data field sets the network to broadcast before contacting name servers for resolution. If no WINS servers are configured (H-node/queries name resolution first, then broadcasts), the value 8 applies.

How to Change Domain Controller on Windows

Step 6: Right-click and select New, then choose ‘DWORD (32-bit) Value.’

How to Change Domain Controller on Windows

Type EnableLMHOSTS in the name field.

How to Change Domain Controller on Windows

Step 8: Double-click the new value, type 1 in the Value Data field, and press OK.

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How to Change Domain Controller on Windows

Finally, reboot the system to implement the changes. The new domain controller will be set when the system boots up. In case of difficulties, consult experienced IT professionals for guidance. If you have any queries, check the FAQ section below.

1. Can I have multiple domain controllers in a Windows domain?

Yes, it’s recommended to have multiple domain controllers in a Windows domain for redundancy and fault tolerance. This helps ensure that domain services are available even if one domain controller fails.

2. What are the common issues when switching domain controllers?

Common issues include DNS misconfigurations, replication problems, incorrect time settings, and permission issues. It’s essential to monitor the process carefully and resolve any issues that may arise.

Domain Controller Switch

We have explored the significance and provided a step-by-step guide on how to change domain controllers on Windows. So, next time you need to switch domain controllers on Windows, refer to this guide for a smooth transition that meets your network’s specific needs.

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