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Configuring a new primary server

Updated: January 21, 2005

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

Configuring a new primary server

There are several situations in which you might add and configure a new DNS server for your network:

  • When you are adding a new DNS server to your network and configuring a new zone for first-time use.

  • When you have already created a zone at another DNS server and are adding a new server that also needs to load and provide service for the zone.

  • When you already have a DNS server configured with a zone or zones, but need to add a new zone for another domain name, such as a subdomain.

For first-time configuration of a new server and zone, it is best to use the checklists provided with DNS Help to begin your DNS deployment. If you are going to deploy a DNS server without using Active Directory, use Checklist: Deploying DNS. For deploying DNS to support your use of Active Directory, use Checklist: Deploying DNS for Active Directory.

Adding a primary DNS server for an existing zone

The primary DNS server for a zone acts as the point of update for the zone. Newly created zones are always this type. You can use primary zones in one of two ways: as standard primary zones or primary zones integrated with Active Directory.

For standard primary-type zones, only a single DNS server can host and load the master copy of the zone. If you create a zone and keep it as a standard primary zone, no additional primary servers for the zone are permitted. Only one server is allowed to accept dynamic updates and process zone changes.

The standard primary model implies a single point of failure. For example, if for any reason the primary server for a zone is unavailable to the network, no dynamic updates to the zone can be made. Note that queries for names in the zone are not affected and can continue uninterrupted, as long as secondary servers for the zone are available to answer them.

You can add more primary servers for a zone by using the directory-integrated storage and replication features of the DNS Server service. To do this, you need to change a zone and integrate it into Active Directory.

You can integrate an existing zone into Active Directory by changing the type of a zone at the originating primary server where it was first created. Once the zone type is changed from Standard primary to Active Directory-integrated, you can add the zone to other DNS servers by configuring them to use the From Active Directory or registry option when they initialize DNS Server service.

When the From Active Directory or registry option is selected, other DNS servers operating as part of the Active Directory domain namespace -- such as domain controllers for the Active Directory domain -- can query the directory and automatically load all directory-integrated zones, which are stored in the directory database. No other steps are necessary. With the From Active Directory or registry option, any DNS servers operating as part of Active Directory are, by default, also primary servers for directory-integrated zones.

For more information on changing the zone type, see Change the zone type. For more information on changing the server boot method, see Change the boot method used by the DNS server.


  • When using standard primary-type zones, other DNS servers should never be configured to act as primary servers for an existing zone. This design is not supported and might cause errors or inconsistencies in zone data between servers loading different versions of the same zone.

Adding a new primary zone to an existing server

Adding a new primary zone to an existing server can be done whenever additional domains or subdomains are needed in your DNS domain namespace. For example, you might have a zone for a second-level domain such as and want to add a primary zone for the new subdomain,

In this example, you can create the new zone for the subdomain by using the DNS console and running the New Zone Wizard. When you are done, you need to create a delegation in the parent zone for the new subdomain (such as the zone) to complete the addition of the new subdomain and its primary zone.

Once the new primary zone is added, you can perform other zone configuration tasks as needed to fully configure the zone for use. For more information, see Managing Zones.

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