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Forcing the Removal of a Domain Controller

Updated: March 2, 2005

Applies To: Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2003 R2, Windows Server 2003 with SP1, Windows Server 2003 with SP2

Forced removal of a domain controller from Active Directory is intended to be used as a last resort to avoid having to reinstall the operating system on a domain controller that has failed and cannot be recovered. When a domain controller can no longer function in a domain (that is, it is offline), you cannot remove Active Directory in the normal way, which requires connectivity to the domain. Forced removal is not intended to replace the normal Active Directory removal procedure in any way. It is virtually equivalent to permanently disconnecting the domain controller.

Active Directory stores a considerable amount of metadata about a domain controller. During the normal process of uninstalling Active Directory on a domain controller, this metadata is removed from Active Directory through a connection to another domain controller in the domain. A forced removal assumes that there is no connectivity to the domain; therefore, it does not attempt any metadata removal (cleanup).

Consequently, forced removal of Active Directory from a domain controller should always be followed by the metadata cleanup procedure, which removes all references to the domain controller from the domain and forest.

Forced demotion should not be performed on the last domain controller in a domain.

Task Requirements

The following tools are required to perform the procedures for this task:

  • Active Directory Sites and Services

  • Dcpromo.exe

  • Ntdsutil.exe

To complete this task, perform the following procedures:

  1. Identify replication partners. Connect to one of these domain controllers when you clean up server metadata in procedure 3.

  2. Force domain controller removal

  3. Clean up server metadata

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