Learn AD in 15 Minutes a Week: Active Directory Schema Master Page 3

Transferring FSMO Domain Controller Roles

Once additional domain controllers have been installed in the forest,it is recommended to move some of the load off of the forest root domain controller (the original domain controller installed in the forest and domain which holds all the per-forest and per-domain roles). Operations Masters role transfers take place in conjunction with the current (active) Operation Master. That is, when you move the Schema Master from the default Domain Controller to another Domain Controller in the forest, that is considered a transfer. When you use this controlled transfer process, the original Operations Master server and the new one can properly synchronize their directory databases to ensure that the directory is up to date when the "final" hand-off is made.

The Schema Master domain controller and the Domain Naming Master operation master roles should be placed on the same domain controller for best practices where security and maintenance are concerned.

[NOTES FROM THE FIELD] - If and when you should decide to start updating the domain controller role owners of the different Operations Masters, you need to be aware that the Schema Administrators are the default user accounts that have the rights to change the Schema Master role owner, the Enterprise Administrators are the default user accounts that have the rights to change the Domain Naming Master role owner, and the Domain Administrators are the default user accounts that have the right to change the domain wide Operation Master role owners.

Default does not mean that manually modified accounts CANNOT perform these functions; it simply means that with their default standard settings, these are the built-in accounts that have the proper permission level to perform the desired transfer function.

Below is a chart of which FSMO roles can be handled using which MMC Snap-In.

FSMO Role           Snap-in used for Administrator         
Schema master Active Directory Schema
Domain naming master Active Directory Domains and Trusts
Relative identifier master          Active Directory Users and Computers         
PDC emulator Active Directory Users and Computers
Infrastructure master Active Directory Users and Computers

In order to transfer the FSMO server role, it may be necessary to find out which Domain Controller holds the role if this isn't well documented in your environment.

In order to determine which Domain Controller holds the role of the Schema Master in the case where you are not sure, you would need to use the Active Directory Schema snap-in.

[NOTES FROM THE FIELD] - Because editing the Schema directly is highly unadvisable, this tool is disabled by default. You need to register the DLL for the MMC snap-in before you can use it.

In order to use the Active Directory Schema MMC you need to register the schmmgmt.dll file. This is done by going to either a command prompt or to the RUN line of the start menu and typing "regsvr32.exe <systemroot>\system32\schmmgmt.dll", where <systemroot> is the installation path of the operating system on your computer.

A message will appear that shows the registration of the DLL succeeded, and you can click OK to close the dialog box.

The Active Directory Schema MMC will not automatically show up in the Administration tools folder. You will need to create a custom Microsoft Management Console and add the Active Directory Schema snap-in to the console, and then save it for future use.

This is done by typing MMC at the RUN line from the Start Menu, selecting CONSOLE from the menu bar and continuing by selecting ADD/REMOVE SNAP IN, which opens the Add Standalone Snap-In window, where you can choose the Active Directory Schema snap-in.

[NOTES FROM THE FIELD] - If you were to run MMC before you registered the schmmgmt.dll file, the option to select the Active Directory Schema would not be available under normal circumstances.

Once you've done this, you can fire it up and in the console tree, right-click Active Directory Schema, and then select "Operations Master" from the menu, which will show you the name of the current schema master in the Change Schema Master dialog box. (You do not have to change it if you are only looking to see which server it is.)

[NOTES FROM THE FIELD] - There are particular circumstances where role transfers happen automatically. If you were to run DCPROMO on the Schema Master to demote the Domain Controller to a member server, the Operation Master Role of Schema Master would be passed to whichever Domain Controller the current Schema Master could reach.

To properly control the transfer of Operation Master Roles to the other Domain Controllers, you should transfer the Operation Master Roles before performing Domain Controller demotions.

This article was originally published on Jul 11, 2002

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