Adding a Windows Server 2016 Domain Controller

KB ID 0001262


Once upon a time, adding a domain controller that was running a newer version of the Windows Server family involved opening command line and schema prepping, and GP prepping etc. Now all this happens in the background while the wizard is doing the heavy lifting for you.


Obviously the server needs to be a domain member first!

Forest and Domain Functional levels need to be at ‘Windows Server 2003‘.

With a vanilla install Server Manager will open every time you boot, (unless you’ve disabled it!) To open it manually, run ‘servermanager.exe’  > Manage > Add Roles and Features.


I usually tick the ‘Skip this page by default’ option > Next.

2016 Server Adding Roles

Role Based… > Next.

Windows Server 2016 Roles

Ensure the local server is selected, (if you are managing another server, you can of course do the role install from here as well, but let’s keep things simple) > Next.

2016 Server Add Local Role

Select Active Directory Domain Services > Next.

2016 Active Directory Role


2016 Domain Controller Adding


Active Directory Services 2016

Ensure ‘Restart’ is selected > Next.




Promote Windows 2016 Server To Domain Controller

Back in Server Manager > In the ‘Notifications’ section, click the warning triangle > ‘Promote This Server To Domain Controller’.


Assuming you already have a domain, and this is not a greenfield Install > Add a domain controller to an existing domain > Next.


Type and confirm a Directory Services Restore Mode Password (DSRM,) make it something you will remember in a crisis, or store it securely somewhere > Next.


This is fine, You see this error because it’s trying to create a delegation for this DNS zone, and there isn’t a Windows server above you in the DNS hierarchy. For example if your domain name is > Then I do not have access to create a delegation in the .co domain space. (So you can safely ignore) > Next


If you have a backup of AD you can ‘Install From Media’. This used to be handy on remote sites that had awful bandwidth, as it saved you having to replicate a large Active Directly over a ‘pants’ connection > I’ve not had to do that in a long time > Next.

2016 Active Directory Install From Media

Unless you want to change the default AD install locations > Next.

2016 AD install Location


Review 2016 Domain Install

Read any warnings  > Install

2016 Domain Pre-Requisites

Go have a coffee, we ticked ‘reboot’ earlier so it will complete, then reboot the server, which will come back up as a domain controller.

Reboot Domain Controller

You will notice, (if you’re interested,) that your schema version is now 87 (Server 2016).

2016 Schema Version

Find out your Domain Schema Version

Related Articles, References, Credits, or External Links


Author: PeteLong

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  1. Amazing guide. Excellent Job.

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  2. Thank you mister !
    Very clean guide.

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    • You’re Welcome ThanQ 🙂

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  3. Wow, this is what I would have expected to be available from Microsoft directly.
    Great Job, thank you!

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  4. What about adprep commands? Should we be running them on the previous domain controller such as Server 2008 R2?

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    • No not any more, it’s all handled for you 🙂

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  5. Apologies if this qualifies as a non-smart question but is the process of adding a server 2016 DC to 2008r2 a solid process that should work without any caveats or warnings?
    I have a 2008r2 domain raised to highest FFL DFL.

    Hate tp be overly cautious but never hurts to ask.

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  6. Excellent walkthrough. Thank You.

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  7. The crucial part is to have a coffe after rebooting the machine 😀

    Many thanks, it was very helpful!

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  8. This is very nice. Say, I have a Windows Server 2012 as my primary AD, and I do this steps, can I turn off my old 2012 AD and make 2016 my new primary, and add a 2nd 2016 as a backup, following all these steps again?

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    • You would need to demote the 2012 DC before you powered it down, there’s not really a concept of Primary and Backup any more, that’s NT4 terminology. There are FSMO roles but they will move gracefully if you demote your old 2012 DC before you retire it.


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  9. It’s very helpful. Thanks for sharing

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  10. just used this and it still works like a charm.

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  11. Thank you VM! Great article

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  12. in a Domain Controller running Windows 2003, can we introduce a Windows 2016 Domain Controller with no issues? Will servers running Windows 2003 (don’t ask 🙂 ) have issues ?

    We have 1 DC (windows 2003) plan is to raise Domain and Functional level to 2016.

    1. install 2016 server, raise as DC
    2. switch all the FSMO roles to the new server
    3. install a 2nd 2016 server, raise as DC
    4. demote the 2003 DC
    5. decommission the 2003 server
    6. Raise the Doamin and Functional level (in steps 1st to 2008 R2, then 2012 R2 and finally to 2016)

    question is if we have windows 2003 servers in the environment, will there be any issues

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    • You should be fine a 2016 DC will support a 2003 Domain and Forest Functional Level, (check your’s is NOT set to 2000 or the upgrade will fail!)


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  13. Thank you for this how to.
    We currently have 4 DCs in our environment, 1 2008R2, 2 2012R2 and 1 2016.
    One of the warnings that appeared was about migrating from FRS to DRS. Will demoting and removing the 2008R2 resolve that issue on its own, or will a migration still happen? Also will the same happen with regards to the KB 942564?

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