Michael Simmons explains FSMO Roles and how they can prevent conflicts when making changes to Active Directory objects. IT administrators have been working with and around Active Directory since the introduction of the technology in Windows Server. How to Transfer FSMO Roles in Windows Server R2 Transfer the Domain Naming Master Role with Active Directory Domains and.

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Skip to main content. This article applies to Windows Support for Windows ends on July 13, The Windows End-of-Support Actove Center is a starting point for planning your migration strategy from Windows For more information see the Microsoft Support Lifecycle Policy. Active Directory is the central repository in which all objects in an enterprise and their respective attributes are stored. It is a hierarchical, multi-master enabled database, capable of storing millions of objects. Because it is multi-master, changes to the database can be processed at any given domain controller DC in the enterprise regardless of whether the DC is connected or disconnected from the network.

Multi-Master Model A multi-master enabled database, such as the Active Directory, provides the flexibility of allowing changes to occur at any DC in the enterprise, but it f2 introduces the possibility of conflicts that can potentially lead to problems once the data is replicated to the rest of the enterprise.

Riles way Windows deals with conflicting updates is by having a conflict directogy algorithm handle discrepancies in values by resolving to the DC to which changes were written last that is, “the last writer wins”while discarding the changes in all other DCs. Although this resolution method wctive be acceptable in some cases, there are times when conflicts are just too difficult to resolve using the “last writer wins” approach.

In such cases, it is best to roled the conflict from occurring rather than to try to resolve it after the fact. For certain types of changes, Windows incorporates methods to prevent conflicting Active Directory updates from occurring. Single-Master Dirctory To prevent conflicting updates in Windows, the Active Directory performs updates to certain objects in a single-master fashion. In a single-master model, only one DC in the entire directory is allowed to process updates.


Active Directory extends the single-master model found in earlier versions of Windows to include multiple roles, and the ability to transfer roles to any domain controller DC in the enterprise. This DC is the only one that can process updates to the directory schema. Once the Schema update is complete, it is replicated from the schema master to all other DCs in the directory.

Active Directory FSMO roles in Windows

There is only one schema master per directory. This DC is the only one that can add or remove a domain from the directory. It can also add or remove cross references to domains in external directories. It is also responsible for removing an object from its domain and putting it in another domain during an object move.

Each Windows Atcive in a domain is allocated a pool of RIDs that it is role to assign to the security principals it creates.

Techunboxed: How to Transfer FSMO Roles in Windows Server R2

There is one RID master per domain in a directory. Windows includes the W32Time Windows Time time service that is required by rirectory Kerberos authentication protocol. All Windows-based computers within an enterprise use a common time. The purpose of the time service is to ensure that the Windows Time service uses a hierarchical relationship that controls authority and does not permit loops to ensure appropriate common time usage. The PDC emulator of a domain is authoritative for the domain.

The PDC emulator at the root of the forest becomes authoritative for the enterprise, and should be configured to dirfctory the time from an external source. In a Windows domain, the PDC emulator role holder retains the following functions: Password changes diirectory by other DCs in the domain are replicated preferentially to the PDC emulator.

Authentication failures that occur at a given DC in a domain because of an incorrect password are forwarded to the PDC emulator before a bad password failure message is reported to the user. Account lockout ative processed on the PDC emulator. This part of the PDC emulator role becomes unnecessary when all workstations, member servers, and domain controllers that are running Windows NT 4.


The PDC emulator still performs the other functions as described in a Windows environment. The following information describes the changes that occur during the upgrade process: Windows clients workstations and member servers and down-level clients that have installed the distributed services client package do not perform directory writes such as password changes preferentially at the DC that has advertised itself as the PDC; ni use any DC for the domain.


Once backup domain controllers BDCs in down-level domains are upgraded to Windowsthe PDC emulator receives no down-level replica requests. Windows clients workstations and member servers and down-level clients that have installed the distributed services client package use the Active Directory to locate network resources. They do not require the Windows NT Browser service. If the Infrastructure Master runs on a Global Catalog server it will stop updating object information because it does not contain any references to objects that it does not hold.

This is because a Global Catalog server holds a partial replica of every object in the forest. As a result, cross-domain object references in that domain will not be updated and a warning to that effect will be logged on that DC’s event log.

If all the domain controllers in a domain also host the global catalog, all the domain controllers have the current data, and it is not important which domain controller holds the infrastructure master role.

When the Recycle Bin optional feature is enabled, every DC is responsible to update its cross-domain object references when the referenced object is moved, renamed, or deleted. In this case, there are no tasks associated with the Infrastructure FSMO role, and it is not important which domain controller owns the Infrastructure Master role.

Fsmmo more information, see 6.

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