25 Easy Steps to Recover a Downed Domain Controller (Don’t Panic)

If you are one of the many businesses that have Windows Server 2008, then you may have had the unexpected pleasure of having a Domain Controller fail on you. Now if you do not know what the domain controller is then you are in for a treat. The domain controller is only the most important computer within your Windows Server 2008 domain. But, on the other hand, you may have had a technician install this beast of a computer. I put this lightly. The domain controller is a power server but it does not have to be put on a very powerful box. What you do need to do is make sure that it is redundant.
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So, what should we do if the domain controller does go down and we have another domain controller? Well, first, I want to tip my hat to you. Not many companies know the importance of having more than one domain controller in their environment. Let’s digress a little. Why do you want to have multiple domain controllers? See, the domain controller does several different things. It has roles such as the Schema master, Domain Naming Master, RID Master, Infrastructure Master and PDC Emulator. These control the overall environment. Let’s go over some definitions. Don’t go to sleep on me. We will be getting to the good stuff soon enough.

Schema Master

Now you are asking, what is a schema? The schema is just a database. If you have used Excel or Access in the past then you have been exposed to a database. The schema is a database. Now the schema is composed of Classes which are the Tables and Attributes which are the fields. So, the Schema Master controls the updates to the schema. So, you can say that this is relatively important server. It only controls every entry that we make into the Active Directory Domain Service utility called ADUC which is short for Active Directory Users and Computers. This role is located on the first domain controller that is added to the Forest by default. There is only one Schema Master per Forest. When you update the schema which is known as extending the schema, you need to be in the same Forest as this domain controller.

Domain Naming Master

So, what is the definition of a domain? A domain is a logical grouping of computers where the domain controller is the central repository for accounts, security and policies. The Domain Naming Master is in charge of keeping track of the adding and deletion of more domains within the environment. This role is located on the first domain controller that is added to the Forest default. There is only one Domain Naming Master in the Forest.

PDC Emulator

Remember the old Operating System know as Windows NT 4.0. It was the predecessor to Windows Server 2008. Well in the old days which is really little over 10 years, the main domain controller was known as the Primary Domain Controller. So, that is where this role comes into play. It takes the place of the Primary Domain Controller. The main service that it controls is time. If this puppy is not functioning right then you whole environment will suffer. This role is located on the first domain controller that is added to the Forest by default. Now unlike the other roles, the PDC Emulator is located in every domain in the Forest. But, there is only one per domain. This is one of the most important servers in the Domain.

RID Master

The unique identifier for a database is known as the primary key. Well the primary key that provides uniqueness within Active Directory Domain Services is the SID which is known as the Security ID. The RID Master controls the RID Pool for the domain. The RID is the Relative Identifier. When we run out of RIDs then we will not be able to add additional security principals such as accounts. Here is a tip do not recover this server. If you bring this server on at the same time as another RID server then you will have a majorly messed up domain. This role is located in every domain in the forest but only one per domain.

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