Remote Domain Controller promotion


In previous versions of Windows Server operating system, if we needed to promote any server as Domain Controller, we had to log on directly onto that server and run “dcpromo” command to start promotion process. Now, in Windows Server 2012 we don’t have to log on onto remote server to start role/feature installation and finally, we can promote any remote server to Domain Controller. All these features are available over new Server Manager console which is available in new operating system or in Windows 8 RSAT.

You can add any Windows Server 2012 to install roles/features remotely and you can also promote Windows Server 2012 to DC.

Let’s see how this process looks and open Server Manager in Windows Server 2012.

On the left side of Server Manager, click right mouse button on “All Servers” node and choose “Add servers

Adding server(s) to Server Manager

You will see new window where you can select a server to add. You can add servers by one of these criteria:

  • using Active Directory computer object

You can search AD for computers using their

  1. name
  2. OS type
  3. or just display them all and choose from the list

Adding server(s) to Server Manager

  • using existing DNS record
  1. host (A) record – machine name (forward lookup zone)
  2. pointer (PTR) record – machine IP address (reverse lookup zone)

Adding server(s) to Server Manager

  • using text file for import

Adding server(s) to Server Manager

Using one of above methods, add server to Server Manager and we promote it to Domain Controller (select server from the list and click an arrow to add it)

Adding server(s) to Server Manager

When you do that, your remote server should be available in the manager. Click on it right mouse button and choose “Add Roles and Features” to install any. In this case we will install “Active Directory: Directory Services” role

Add Roles and Features on remote server

You will see standard wizard for role/features installation. Just follow it and as in all other cases but on “Server Selection” screen, choose added server

Selecting remote server in Server Manager

the rest of the process looks the same as for local server. Install role and at the end, follow post-installation steps to promote server to Domain Controller

You may wish to follow another article on my blog, showing how to Add additional Windows Server 2012 Domain Controller

On the installation screen, you will see that role and features are installing on remote server, not on the local one

Role and Features installation on remote server

When you finish all post-installation steps and you will promote remote server to Domain Controller, you will see that it requires restart

Remote server reboot

Then open Active Directory Users and Computers console, select “Domain Controllers” OU and check if you can see your new DC there

New Domain Controller

That’s all about new feature. Of course it is not limited to install AD:DS role only. You can use it for any role/feature installation

Author: Krzysztof Pytko


2 responses to “Remote Domain Controller promotion”

  1. scott rosenblatt says :

    SO i am in the process of doing a remote DC promo. i have the gui status up on the remote machine showing the object replicaiton. so what happens if the remote machine reboots and i get disconected? can i reconnect after a reboot and see the replicaiton real time status?


    • kpytko says :

      Hello Scott,

      no unfortunately, you would not see it over Server Manager console. This will only help you to deploy, configure and promote a remote Domain Controller.
      After that, as you know, server is restarted and the you’ll loose connection. When server is up again, Server Manager is showing role installation and DC promotion status, nothing more.

      To get replication status, you need to use PowerShell cmd-lets or repadmin tool or free GUI utility from Microsoft called Active Directory Replication Status available at for free. I recommend using AD Repl Stat tool, it’s really simple in use and allows you controlling replication in your forest/domain.



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