Domain Renaming and Repositioning

In the Windows 2000 version of Active Directory, it was not possible to rename domains without demoting all domain controllers, which effectively destroyed the domain. In Windows Server 2003, domains can be renamed, as long as the forest in which they exist are configured to the Windows Server 2003 forest functional level. Of course, this means that you cannot rename a domain that includes either Windows 2000 or Windows NT 4.0 domain controllers, since the Windows Server 2003 forest functional level only supports Windows Server 2003 domain controllers. The tool to rename Windows Server 2003 domains is named RENDOM, and is found in the Valueadd\Msft\Mgmt\Domren folder on the Windows Server 2003 CD.

Along the same lines, Windows Server 2003 also allows you to rename individual domain controllers with a new computer name. In Windows 2000 Active Directory, this was only possible if you first used DCPROMO to demote a domain controller back to a member server, changed the name, and then re-promoted it. Renaming a domain controller is only possible if a domain is configured to the Windows Server 2003 domain functional level.

Renaming a Windows Server 2003 domain controller is handled differently than the traditional method (via the System tool in Control Panel). Instead, the NETDOM command line utility is used to handle the domain controller renaming function. For example, the series of commands to rename a domain controller from to would be:

C:\>netdom computername /

C:\>netdom computername /

Then, after rebooting the server:

C:\>netdom computername /

Finally, Windows Server 2003 also supports the ability to reposition domains within an Active Directory forest. For example, imagine that you originally implemented each domain as its own forest, and then decided that you instead wanted to change the structure that such all domains fell into the same DNS namespace, as part of a single tree. This is now possible, but only if the forest is configured to the Windows Server 2003 functional level. Although that does present a limitation, the ability to reposition domains is a great feature, especially if you managed to inherit responsibility for a forest that was not well designed in the first place.

In the same manner as renaming domains, domain repositioning in Windows Server 2003 Active Directory environments is also accomplished by using the RENDOM utility.

Author: Dan DiNicolo

Dan DiNicolo is a freelance author, consultant, trainer, and the managing editor of He is the author of the CCNA Study Guide found on this site, as well as many books including the PC Magazine titles Windows XP Security Solutions and Windows Vista Security Solutions. Click here to contact Dan.