Home » Blog » Active Directory » The Complete Active Directory Migration Process

The Complete Active Directory Migration Process

Published By Deepa Pandey
Ashwani Tiwari
Approved By Ashwani Tiwari
Published On April 3rd, 2024
Reading Time 9 Minutes Reading
Category Active Directory

Overview: There are different scenarios for performing Active Directory migration. The process of transferring data within the Active Directory is not that easy. It is a complex process that requires many things to be prepared. Here you will find the complete Active Directory migration process stepwise to make the task easier.

The data exchange within Active Directory has proved to be tougher. Because, there is a need to migrate several objects such as users, groups, computers, printers, and so on to another domain or forest. Having a complete plan before the process makes the process disruption-free.

Challenges in Active Directory Migration

Several challenges can occur during the Active Directory migration process. Some of the key challenges are as follows.

  • Application Compatibility – During the migration some of the applications are compatible with certain server names, and user names. But then after the migration, they did not become compatible easily.
  • Security Concerns – The user accounts & memberships also migrate then the issues of passwords occur.
  • Data Loss – Migrating all of the resources, users, groups, and computers causes chances of error and data loss.
  • Downtime – If you do not follow the right plan, then the whole organization has to face downtime. As a result, the business is affected.
    User Disruption – User disruption also happened after the migration because they needed to reset their passwords, change the way of login, and many more.

Steps for A Complete Active Directory Migration Process

Here are the steps for a successful Active Directory Migration between domains and cross-forest.

Step 1. Develop a Detailed Plan

A detailed plan is the essential step for the Active Directory migration. You need to prepare a detailed plan for the successful AD migration.

  • Identify all of the factors that can affect the process of AD migration.
  • Prepare an ordered list of resources to provide the sequence of the migration.
  • Have a schedule for the migration.
  • Get ready all of the required software and hardware.
  • Ensures the existing AD does not have the vulnerabilities.

Step 2. Destination Domain Design

After having a detailed plan for the migration now it’s time to focus on the destination domain design. You need to go through the below factors in the destination domain before performing the migration.

  • Scalability – Ensures the scalability of the destination domain. It should be able to handle multiple users at the same time so that you are not required to perform AD migration again.
  • Performance – The domain should be efficient so that you do not need to face downtime due to which the chances of business loss are increased.
  • Security – The domain should be secure enough so that your data privacy is maintained.

Step 3. Focus on AD Security

Before performing the Active Directory migration process, go deep dive into the existing Active Directory security.

  • Verify the state of the environment and identify all the security gaps in the system such as weak passwords and unsecured systems.
  • Make sure that firewalls are configured and passwords are secured. Weak passwords and unsecured systems can create security issues during the migration

Step 4. Prepare Forests and Domains

The preparation of forests and domains is performed within two phases. The first is to verify that you are not using FRS. In the earlier version of Windows, the domain controllers supported the DFS for replication. Check the FRS by running the command in the PowerShell.


In the second phase of the forest and domain preparation using the adprep. Run the following commands


Now, it’s time to promote the servers to domain controllers. You need to run the below commands in the PowerShell.

Install-WindowsFeature -Name AD-Domain-Services -IncludeManagementTools

Install-ADDSDomainController -CreateDnsDelegation:$false -InstallDns:$true -DomainName “tailwindtraders.com” -SiteName “Default-First-Site-Name” -ReplicationSourceDC “DC01.tailwindtraders.com” -DatabasePath “C:\Windows\NTDS” -LogPath “C:\Windows\NTDS” -SysvolPath “C:\Windows\SYSVOL” -Force:$true

The first command is to install the necessary roles and services required for the migration. The second command is for the customization of the domain name, and site name.

Step 5. Transfer FSMO Roles from Existing Domain Controllers

Now, is the time to transfer the FSMO roles in the Active Directory migration process. To locate the first and domain FSMO roles, run the below commands.

Get-ADDomain | Select-Object InfrastructureMaster, RIDMaster, PDCEmulator

Get-ADForest | Select-Object DomainNamingMaster, SchemaMaster

To shift the FSMO roles to a new domain controller, run the below command

Move-ADDirectoryServerOperationMasterRole -Identity TargetDC -OperationMasterRole SchemaMaster, DomainNamingMaster, PDCEmulator, RIDMaster, infrastructure master

Step 6. Demote the Domain Controller

Now demote the existing domain controllers having the earlier versions. Through this, the domain controller removes the role and goes back to the standard server role. If the domain controller has to be demoted is it of the Windows Server 2008 R2 or previous? They use the dcpromo wizard to remove the AD domain services. If you are using the Windows Server 2012 or later then use the below command.

Uninstall-ADDSDomainController -DemoteOperationMasterRole -RemoveApplicationPartition

Step 7. Upgrade Domain and Forest Function Level

Now the existing domain controllers having earlier versions are removed. Now raise the domain and forest function level. Windows Server 2016 is the highest one which is supported by Active Directory. Run the following commands for the upgradation of Domain and Forest Function levels during the Active Directory migration process.

Set-ADDomainMode -identity tailwindtraders.com -DomainMode Windows2016Domain

Set-ADForestMode -Identity tailwindtraders.com -ForestMode Windows2016Forest

Step 8. Migration Planning

Plan the migration carefully which includes:

  1. Select the Names for the source and destination AD forest and domain.
  2. Plan the Organizational unit (OU) structure to meet the requirements of the organization.
  3. Plan the group policies settings for the AD DS forest.
  4. Make the complete list of the objects that need to be migrated.
  5. Identify the apps for the migration because they are the interdependent components.

Also Read: What is Office 365 Migration Project Plan?

Step 9. Perform Active Directory Migration Process

Now, you are good to go with the process of migration. Here you have two approaches to performing migration. Using the ADMT or experts recommended tool. Firstly, see the steps of the ADMT tool.

Use ADMT Tool

The ADMT tool is offered by Microsoft for the migration of Active Directory. Below are the required steps that should be followed.

Step 1. Install the ADMT tool and sign in with the destination domain credentials.
Step 2. Now after opening the ADMT tool, go to Action > User account migration wizard and Next.
Step 3. Choose the source and destination domains.
Step 4. Load all the users for the migration and press OK.
Step 5. Now select the targeted organizational unit and move Next.
Step 6. Tick the option of “Do Not Migrate source object if a conflict is detected in the domain” in the dialog box of conflict and Next.
Step 7. Finally, verify the migrated users in the destination Active Directory.

You can also choose the Expert’s recommended tool for the successful migration. Through this, you do not need to face the ADMT limitations.

Professional Tool

The Active Directory Tool is the expert’s first choice. There are different advanced features associated with the professional tool. Here is the complete list of the prerequisites that should be done before performing the Active Directory migration process.


  1. Make sure you have Microsoft .NET version 4.6.1 or later.
  2. Manage DNS settings for DCs on both the platforms Source and Destination.
  3. Ensures trust relationship.
  4. Configured the DNS suffix search list.
  5. Set up the admin account in the administrator groups.
  6. Keep Active Directory servers in the same network.
  7. Both source and destination should have the same schema[] Schema classes / Custom/Standard/ In Built].
  8. Ensures the AD access to the user.
  9. Destination AD machine should have the same AD schema Classes + Attributes (Custom + STandard+ in Built) according to the Source.
  10. Keep the Antivirus disabled, so that it cannot block the application.
  11. Firewalls should be disabled on both of the machines.
Steps Need to be Followed

Here are all of the steps that need to be executed for the seamless Active Directory migration process to the destination.

Free Download Purchase Now

Step 1. Download and Enter the administrator as the default details in the admin and password field.

Enter Credentials

Step 2. Enter the Domain Name and IP address then click on Save and Continue.

Add Domain Name

Step 3. Add a second domain name.

Add Domain IP

Step 4. Click on the first domain fill in the required credentials and save.

First Domain Credentials

Step 5. Load all the active directory objects.

Fetch Active Directory Objects

Step 6. Complete the credentials of the destination domain.

Enter Domain Credential

Step 7. Load the essential active directory objects.

Fetch Active Directory Object

Step 8. Click on the Migration button to create the migration scenario.

Create Scenario

Step 9. Create a task by clicking on the migration scenario & select the data and Save.

Save Task

Step 10. Hit three dots to map the objects.

Click Three Dots

Step 11. Select any option from the merge or create and click on the start button.

Select Action

Step 12. Click on the Start button to the start the migration. The process gets completed after a while.

Click Start

Step 13. To update the destination user passwords, use the sync feature.

  1. Download and set up the AD Watcher tool.
  2. Reset the source user password.
  3. The passwords synced to the destination user automatically.

Step 14. Go to the Report section and generate the reports.

Generate Report

Step 10. Verify the Result After the Active Directory Migration Process
  1. Go through the results after the migration by the generated report after performing the migration.
  2. After the data is migrated to the expected location, then inform all the users. Stopped all the activities in the previous Active Directory.
  3. Make sure that DNS is updated with the Reverse or Forward zones.
  4. Perform a complete checkup of the data after the migration by the personnel.
  5. If there are any data is missed after the migration, then use the advanced Delta option to complete the migration.
  6. Make sure that all of the required data is successfully migrated, then disable the previous Active Directory.
Final Words

Here we have explained, the complete Active Directory migration process. All of the steps are necessary to get the expected results. Make sure that all of the commands of the PowerShell should be executed by the personnel. Do not make quick for the process of the migration. Also check at least once after the migration that all of the users, groups, computers, and application works as per the requirement.