Skip to content

Konstantinos Tsoukalas

Konstantinos is the founder and administrator of Since 1995 he works and provides IT support as a computer and network expert to individuals and large companies. He is specialized in solving problems related to Windows or other Microsoft products (Windows Server, Office, Microsoft 365, etc.).


  1. Destry Holmes
    May 18, 2022 @ 3:19 pm

    Hello thank you for the detailed steps, I am planning to do this over the weekend. One question about backup DC's, will I leave them alone and they will connect to the new after completed or do the same steps need to be taken that are executed on the old DC? We have a PDC Win2003 and we have a backup DC Win2003 that also serves as LDAP. Finally we have a second backup DC we use for AD maintenance. Ultimately I would like to move the LDAP to the new DC and retire all the older Win2003 machines so maybe this would be the time to do that.


    • lakonst
      May 19, 2022 @ 10:31 am

      1. After you transfer all the roles to the new DC, you don't (I think) need to keep the old backup DCs unless you are running other services on them that you need. If you want to keep them as backup DC's, maybe it's better to clean install the OS on them (after ensuring that all their services/data are transferred somewhere else) and then to join the new DC from scratch).
      2. Yes, the best action is to transfer LDAP to the new DC and retire the older Win2003 machines.


      • Destry Holmes
        May 21, 2022 @ 6:06 pm

        Great news, all steps worked perfectly, we are now running our DC on Win server 2016.
        Thank you for your help. Next step is to install LDAP on the new DC server and then turn it off on the old backup DC. Currently the LDAP is running normal under the new domain and users are able to login to the applications with it so I am happy.


        • lakonst
          May 24, 2022 @ 12:48 pm

          I'm glad for that!


  2. dishjuarez
    February 23, 2021 @ 5:19 pm

    Is this migration tested from Windows Server 2003 to Windows Server 2012?


  3. Woody
    December 9, 2020 @ 10:40 pm

    Thanks lakonst, this worked perfectly for a 2k3 to 2k16 migration. This saved me a ton of work, and I was able to move on to FRS -> DFSR migration afterward. One note, if your domain uses conditional forwarders in DNS, those don't get replicated (for some reason) and will need to be rebuilt manually.


  4. David
    January 24, 2020 @ 10:48 pm

    ok, I figured out the step at 8.4. I had to connect to the 2016 server.

    But now I hit a snag at 15.6

    I get an error "The Operation Failed because: A domain controller could not be contacted for the domain mydomain.local that contained an account for this computer. Make the computer a member of a workgroup then rejoin the domain before retrying to promotion.

    "The specified domain either does not exist or could not be contacted."

    I tried to make it a part of a work group, but it would not let me do that.


    • lakonst
      January 25, 2020 @ 2:03 pm

      If you cannot remove the old Domain Controller (Server 2003) and you don't want the machine anymore, then simply shutdown it, skip this step and continue to remove the old domain controller from the console of the new Domain Controller (Server 2016).


  5. David
    January 24, 2020 @ 8:48 pm

    Everything went well, until I get to 8.4. On the RID tab it shows the old server name in both Op Master, and transfer to selection. It will not allow me to type in the new server name. I looked at the PDC tab and it shows the same. Any help would be great


  6. Jan
    December 28, 2019 @ 12:10 pm

    I agree with @lars: How to migrate from FRS to DFSR after migrating FSMO?
    I think it`s only possible from 2003 to 2008 R2, but no upward.
    For migration from 2003 to 2016 (or 2012 / R2) my leel of knowledge is, that you have to install a temp. 2008 R2, have to migrate from 2003 to 2008 R2, demote 2003, raise the leven from 2003 to 2008, migrate FSR to DFSR and so on …
    Otherwise SYSVOL will be empty and replication will not work …

    But if there is a direct way for 2003->2016 with migration from FSR to DSFR it would be great and helpfull from you to give uns a hint.

    Many thanx and regards,



  7. Ricco
    November 26, 2019 @ 9:14 am

    on step 5.. when Right click at Active Directory Domain and Trusts and choose Raise Forest Functional Level. then show

    "MMC has detected an error in a snap-in. It is recommended that you shut down and restart MMC."

    what should i do? please give advice


    • lakonst
      November 26, 2019 @ 7:36 pm

      See this solution from Microsoft.


  8. I.Karygiannis
    November 7, 2019 @ 4:08 pm

    Your steps are really comprehensive but when i tried demoting my old 2003 server i got the message:

    "The operation failed because:

    A domain controller could not be contacted for the domain syntax.local that contained an account for this computer.
    Make the computer a member of a workgroup then rejoin the domain before retrying the promotion.

    "The specified domain either does not exist or could not be contacted."


    • lakonst
      November 7, 2019 @ 6:26 pm

      Did you follow exactly the steps?? Also have you changed correctly the Preferred DNS Address on Server 2003 to match Server's 2016 IP? (step-14)


      • I.Karygiannis
        November 8, 2019 @ 1:55 pm

        Yeah i did. I will try again out of working hours where i will have more time to troubleshoot. Thank you.


      • I.Karygiannis
        November 18, 2019 @ 10:59 am

        The problem i am having, seems to be relevant to a dns misconfiguration in my old 2003 ad. I am currently investigating. Thank you for your excellent guide!


      • I.Karygiannis
        November 19, 2019 @ 12:45 pm

        Ok, after a week of troubleshooting, i finally found out that i was getting journal wrap errors so my sysvol was not replicating. i ran a chkdisk and i can now wait to finish replicating and then dcpromo to demote the 2003. Thank you so much for your excellent article.


  9. John Barker
    November 6, 2019 @ 1:51 pm

    I'm trying to use this procedure to migrate W2K3 to Server 2019 (which appears very similar to 2016) but I can't get past step 7.3. When I attempt to promote the server, the message is "Verification of replica failed. The forest functional level is not supported. To install a Windows Server 2019 domain or domain Controller, the forest functional lever must be 2008 or higher". I can't open Domain Controller Options – it just takes me back to the Deployment Configuration menu.


    • lakonst
      November 6, 2019 @ 3:43 pm

      I think that you cannot Migrate from Windows 2003 to 2019 because you cannot Raise the Domain Functional level in AD 2003 to 2008 (Step-5 on the post) which is required in Server 2019 to migrate the AD successfully.


    • Christian Kurti
      February 23, 2021 @ 3:22 pm

      Highest supported Domain OS for 2003 is 2016* and there are caveat's with that. Server 2016 RS1 is the only one that still supports FRS to DFSR migration.


  10. insecular
    October 5, 2019 @ 9:57 pm

    After all this – Why wouldn't you raise the Domain Function Level to Windows 2016 ???


    • lakonst
      October 7, 2019 @ 9:28 am

      Because, before raising the Domain Functional Level to Server 2016, you have to:
      1. Verify that all other DC's are running the same OS version (Windows Server 2016).
      2. Verify that the Active Directory is replicating properly to all other DCs.
      3. Verify that all third-party apps can be run at the Windows Server 2016 Functional level.


  11. FF
    September 20, 2019 @ 2:03 am


    When does the domain functionality rise to 2016?


  12. Lukasz
    August 9, 2019 @ 2:33 pm

    Do you need to restart 2003 after the Raise of Domain Functional Level?
    I did this step but I can not promote 2016 to Domain controler – it still sees that the Forest Functional Level is Windows 2000.


    • lakonst
      August 13, 2019 @ 11:25 am

      @Sometimes the restart is needed.


  13. Stefan
    May 22, 2019 @ 9:49 pm


    why change the IP Adress of the old server and new server? is it a problem, that the new server as permanently a new ip adress?`


    • lakonst
      May 23, 2019 @ 9:04 am

      @Stefan: You have to change the IP Address if you want to match the already configured DNS settings on your network.


      • Daniel
        February 22, 2021 @ 5:20 am

        Very well laid out step by step process that I'm eager to follow as I work to move an old organization from 2003 to 2019 by the interim step of first moving to 2016.
        I'm confused a bit by this step. I have my 2016 in a different location\subnet, so it won't be able to re-use the old 2003's IP address. This means I'm not working in the same scenario that you've noted from step 2.
        What gets broken, or will need to be fixed up in DNS in this scenario? For example our server2k3 is and server2k16 is in another city on our mpls with an ip of


        • lakonst
          February 22, 2021 @ 12:30 pm

          To perform the migration you have to use the same IP Range (e.g. 192.168.1.x) in both servers. Otherwise you'll not be able to perform the migration.


  14. Favian
    April 29, 2019 @ 6:15 pm

    Is this migration tested from Windows Server 2003 to Windows Server 2019?


    • lakonst
      May 1, 2019 @ 9:15 am

      @No, his is tested for migrating Server 2003 to Server 2016 without any problem.


    • Alex S.
      August 2, 2019 @ 3:49 pm

      You need at least WS 2008 to migrate to WS 2019. I've just failed with 2003 to 2019 migration.


  15. Lars
    March 5, 2019 @ 8:24 am

    What about the FRS Warning in Step 7.8?
    Did you migrate to DFS afterwards?


    • lakonst
      March 5, 2019 @ 10:46 am

      @Lars: Yes, migrate to DFS at the end of this process.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *