Using DCPromo to Promote AD Domain Controllers

The DCPROMO console utility is used on Windows Server to install the ADDS (Active Directory Domain Services) role, promoting a member server to the AD domain controller or demoting it.

dcpromo /unattend[:filename] /adv /uninstallBinaries /CreateDCAccount /UseExistingAccount:Attach [:{Promotion | CreateDcAccount | UseExistingAccount | Demotion}] /?:Promotion, /?:CreateDCAccount, /?:UseExistingAccount, and /?:Demotion


Dcpromo Command Line Arguments:

/unattend[:filename]Used to specify the unattended AD installation mode and path to the script file.
/advEnables advanced user options.
/uninstallBinariesUsed to uninstall Active Directory Domain Services binaries from current server.
/CreateDCAccountCreates an RODC (Read-only Domain Controller) account.
/UseExistingAccount:AttachAttaches the current server to the RODC account.
/forceRemovalUninstalls Active Directory Services on this domain controller. The account for the domain controller will not be deleted in the directory, and changes that have occurred on this domain controller since it last replicated with a partner will be lost.
[:{Promotion | CreateDcAccount | UseExistingAccount | Demotion}] /?:Promotion, /?:CreateDCAccount, /?:UseExistingAccount, and /?:DemotionDisplays the unattended parameters applicable to the specified task. /CreateDCAccount and /UseExistingAccount:Attach are mutually exclusive.

You can use the dcpromo tool for unattended installation of the first DC on the non-domain joined Windows Server. Create a new text file c:\dcpromo_unattend.txt with the following text.

DomainNetbiosName= theitbros 

dcpromo command

Open the elevated command prompt and run the following command to promote current server to the first domain controller in a new domain forest

dcpromo.exe /unattend:C:\dcpromo_unattend.txt

After the script finishes, you will get a fully functional domain controller with the ADDS role installed.

With the dcpromo /forceremoval command, you can demote the domain controller to the member server. If one of the FSMO roles is found on the domain controller, you will be asked to transfer it to another DC first. If this server is a Global catalog, a warning will also appeared.

Dcpromo was used to promote member servers to the domain controllers in Windows Server 2000, 2003, 2008, 2008 R2, however, starting with Windows Server 2012 and newer, the Dcpromo command has been deprecated.

When you try to run the dcpromo command on Windows Server 2012 R2, a warning will appear:

The Active Directory Services installation Wizard is relocated in Server Manager.

dcpromo windows server

Thus, in Windows Server 2012 R2, 2016 and 2019, you can promote the Windows Server to the domain controller using the Server Manager or ADDSDeployment PowerShell module (which actually runs in the wizard “Promote this server to a domain controller” during installing the ADDS role when you specify the settings for the new DC.

active directory dcpromo

To install the new DC using the ADDSDeployment module, you can use the following PowerShell script:

Install-WindowsFeature AD-Domain-Services -IncludeManagementTools

Import-Module ADDSDeployment 
Install-ADDSDomainController ` 
-NoGlobalCatalog:$false ` 
-CreateDnsDelegation:$false ` 
-CriticalReplicationOnly:$false ` 
-DatabasePath “C:\Windows\NTDS” ` 
-DomainName “” ` 
-InstallDns:$true ` 
-LogPath “C:\Windows\NTDS” ` 
-NoRebootOnCompletion:$false ` 
-SiteName “Default-First-Site-Name” ` 
-SysvolPath “C:\Windows\SYSVOL” ` 

However, the dcpromo /unattend command can be used in different scripts to automatically configure a new DC on Windows Server Core (it contains no GUI).

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