Should I Upgrade my Domain Controller?

January 10, 2010 at 12:38:57
Specs: Windows XP, Q6600/4.00 GB PC8500
I have only 1 domain controller on the network thats running Windows Server 2003 R2 Enterprise Edition. The computer is a Pentium 4 3.00 GHz system with 1.5 GB of RAM. I believe that it can run Windows Server 2008, especially with the ATI Radeon 9600 Pro graphics card in it, I can even enable Aero in it!

Now, what impact will this give my domain? Should I do an upgrade or should I get an old Pentium 2 machine, old Laptop or VM to be a Domain Controller and just reformat the Physical Domain Controller? Or should I simply convert the domain controller into a VM and clean install Windows Server 2008 and make that the primary domain controller? That sounds a bit messy becuase then the VM will have the name and I want the Physical machine to have the same name because of the login scripts and file sharing, so I am back to square 1 and 2.

What do you guys think I should do? I have Exchange 2007 on another machine running Windows Server 2003 R2 Enterprise Edition x64 and a Terminal Server on the network.

I also have another question. I know Windows Server 2008 will definitely benefit Windows Vista users, but what about Windows 7? Windows Server 2008 R2 is what will benefit Windows 7 users, but the problem is that it only works on 64 bit machines and my only domain controller is a 32 bit only processor. Plus, I don't have a licence for it. Can I make Windows Server 2008 have the same features as Windows 7 and R2 version or is it going to be like Windows XP on a Windows 2000 Server domain? In other words, new operating system on an old Active Directory operating system domain.

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January 11, 2010 at 14:16:11
You should look up the benefits on a Windows 2008 domain vs. a Windows 2003 domain to answer your questions. A simple search on Bing will get you those results.

As far as the graphics card on a domain controller, it isn't an issue. The domain controller should need any fancy card. In fact, my Windows 2008 domain controllers run the Core version of the OS, no graphic interface at all.

You should have more than one domain controller, especially if you are running Exchange. If you lose that domain controller, even for awhile, Exchange stops working. If you lose the domain controller for good, you pretty much lose your entire domain unless you can restore from backup - not a fun procedure and not something I'd want to be responsible for.

Personally, I would add another domain controller. If you can get a 64 bit server, I would add an R2 domain controller to your existing domain. You will have to prep the domain accordingly, forest prep, domain prep, etc., but I would not have a domain running on only one DC, especially one running Exchange. If you can't get a 64 bit machine, I'd add a 2008 DC.

Windows 2008 will not give you all the benefits of 2008 R2 but either will running 2008 R2 with a domain controller running 2003 in the same domain.

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January 12, 2010 at 19:04:20

Thank you for your response. I have 3 servers, one for domain controller, one for exchange and the other for terminal services. My exchange server is beefy (has 3 GB of RAM and has a Pentium D 3.0 Ghz Processor). I have Exchange 2007 on it. Should I install VMware server, make a 512 MB VM and put Server 2008 R2 Core in it and also put Server 2008 on my current domain controller which only has 32 bit, not 64 bit? Its a Pentium 4 3.00 GHz with 1.5 GB of RAM.

Yes, the redundency of my domain controller is bad, its only running on a single 320 GB IDE hard drive, but I backed up the hard drive image twice.

Another thing, How do I put all five roles on both servers if I have two servers? I mean if one of the domain controllers go down and if that has all the roles on it, then the second domain controller won't have the roles and then the domain is corrupt. Is it possible to backup the roles on the two controllers?

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January 12, 2010 at 21:20:57
3GB of RAM isn't a lot for Exchange but I'm guessing you have a pretty small environment.

Server 2008 R2 is 64 bit only. If you are running Exchange 2007, that is 64 bit only as well. ( I know there is a 32 bit test unsupported available but hopefully you aren't using that.) 512GB of RAM really isn't enough even for 2008 R2 Core. It would probably run but 1GB would be better.

If it's in the budget, I think your best bet would be to upgrade the RAM in your Exchange server or perhaps get an additional server for the second domain controller. It wouldn't have to be a strong machine, but give it at least 1GB or RAM or more if you can.

As far as the FSMO roles, they don't go on both servers. You will need to pick a server for the roles to run on, although all roles don't have to run on just one machine. They can be split up. They can be transferred to the other server manually if needed. A temporary loss of a server holding a role is usually not a big deal. In the event of a crash where the server holding a specific role has been lost, you can seize the role from that machine. That is a bit beyond the discussion at this time.

I think your first priority would be to get another DC up and running even if it is another 2003 DC.

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January 13, 2010 at 10:48:26
I can't upgrade my RAM in my Exchange Server. It goes up to 3.25 if I put 4 GB of RAM in it. Its currently running Windows Server 2003 x64 and its having 64 bit exchange server on it. So far there are no issues, except I keep getting a send and recieve error: (0x80190194) 'the operation failed'. Do you know how to fix this?

About a second domain controller, should I just install VMware server on the Exchange Server and put Windows Server 2003/2008 in it? If I put more physical servers on (even old ones), the electricity bill will increase, unless I can steal power from another location, lol. Running 3 servers is already taking up a lot of power. But ignoring electricity, what will happen if I make a 512 MB Virtual Machine on my Exchange Server which only has 3 GB? Will it slow down my Exchange Server? Should I use VMware Server 2?

I asked the similar question here:

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