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Removing the Last Domain Controller in a Forest

Updated: September 12, 2014

Applies To: Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2008 R2

The procedures in this section describe the following methods that you can use to remove the last domain controller in an Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS) forest. These procedures apply to Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008 R2:

Use the following procedure to remove the forest. If the domain controller hosts any Active Directory–integrated DNS zones, the wizard removes those zones. By default, it also attempts to remove the DNS delegations for those zones that point to the domain controller.

Administrative credentials

To complete this procedure, you must be a member of the Domain Admins group in the forest root domain or the Enterprise Admins group in the forest.

  1. Click Start, click Run, type dcpromo, and then press ENTER.

  2. On the Welcome to the Active Directory Domain Services Installation Wizard page, click Next.

  3. On the Delete the Domain page, select the option to delete the domain and forest. Before you continue, read the instructions for managing the removal of cryptographic keys and the decryption of Encrypting File System (EFS)–encrypted files, and perform these actions, if necessary. When you are sure that you have completed all security tasks, click Next.

  4. If the domain controller has application directory partitions, on the Application Directory Partitions page, view the application directory partitions in the list, and then remove or retain application directory partitions, as follows:

    • If you do not want to retain any application directory partitions that are stored on the domain controller, click Next.

    • If you want to retain any application directory partition that an application has created on the domain controller, use the application that created the partition to remove it, and then click Update List to update the list.

  5. On the Confirm Deletion page, select the option to delete all application directory partitions on the domain controller, and then click Next.

  6. On the Remove DNS Delegation page, verify that the Delete the DNS delegations pointing to this server check box is selected, and then click Next.

  7. If necessary, enter administrative credentials for the server that hosts the DNS zones that contain the DNS delegation for this server, and then click OK.

  8. On the Administrator Password page, type and confirm a secure password for the local Administrator account, and then click Next.

  9. On the Summary page, review your selections, and then click Next to remove AD DS.

  10. When you are prompted, restart the server to complete the removal of AD DS.

  11. Open Server Manager. Click Start, point to Administrative Tools, and then click Server Manager.

  12. In Roles Summary, click Remove Roles.

  13. If necessary, review the information on the Before You Begin page and then click Next.

  14. On the Remove Server Roles page, clear the Active Directory Domain Services check box, and then click Next.

  15. On the Confirm Removal Selections page, click Remove.

  16. On the Removal Results page, click Close, and then click Yes to restart the server.

To remove the last domain controller in a forest requires only Enterprise Admin credentials. You can also create the password for the local Administrator account for the member server. If you do not specify the password in the answer file, the administrator password is blank.

If you are removing AD DS permanently, uninstall the AD DS server role binaries from the server. To remove the AD DS server role binaries, use the dcpromo /uninstallbinaries command.

Administrative credentials

To perform this procedure, you can use any account that has Read and Write credentials for the text editor application.

  1. Open Notepad or any text editor.

  2. On the first line, type [DCINSTALL], and then press ENTER.

  3. Create the following entries, one entry on each line. For a complete list of parameters for removing AD DS, see Demotion Operation or type dcpromo /?:Demotion at a command line.

    username=<administrative account in the domain>

    userdomain=<domain name of the administrative account>

    password=<password for the account in UserName>

    administratorpassword=<local administrator password for the server>

    IsLastDCInDomain=yes

    removeapplicationpartitions=yes

    removeDNSDelegation=yes

    DNSDelegationUserName=<DNS server administrative account for the DNS zone that contains the DNS delegation>

    DNSDelegationPassword=<Password for the DNS server administrative account>

  4. Save the answer file to the location on the installation server from which it is to be called by dcpromo, or save the file to a network shared folder or removable media for distribution.

Administrative credentials

To remove a domain controller, you must be a member of the Domain Admins group.

  • At an elevated command prompt, type the following command, and then press ENTER:

    dcpromo /uninstallbinaries /unattend:"<path to the answer file>"

Use the following procedure to perform an unattended removal (demotion) of the last domain controller in a forest from the command line. For a complete list of unattended demotion options, including default values, allowed values, and descriptions, type dcpromo /?:Demotion at a command prompt, or see Demotion Operation.

Administrative credentials

To perform this procedure, you must be a member of the Enterprise Admins group.

  1. At a command prompt, type the following command, and then press ENTER:

    dcpromo /unattend /<unattendOption>:<value> /<unattendOption>:<value> ...

    Where:

    • <unattendOption> is an option in the Promotion Operation table. Separate each <option:value> pair with a space.

    • <value> is the configuration instruction for the option.

    The following example removes the last domain controller in a forest and uninstalls the AD DS server role binaries:

    dcpromo /unattend /demotefsmo:yes /islastdcindomain:yes /username:<EnterpriseAdmin> userdomain:<contoso.com>/password:<Tq&09H,Ly>/AdministratorPassword:<FH#3573.cK> /rebootOnCompletion:yes /uninstallbinaries

  2. When you have typed all the options that are required to remove the last domain controller in the domain, press ENTER.

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