Familiarize yourself with Active Directory's five FSMO roles
Takeaway: Active Directory is an entirely different beast than Windows NT. Back in the Windows NT days, primary domain controllers (PDCs) and backup domain controllers (BDCs) were not equal, and your PDC could be a single point of failure. Active Directory has made domain operations more resilient by flattening the domain hierarchy, making all domain controllers equal. However, that equality only goes so far.
There are still a number of single-instance roles installed on various domain controllers throughout your organization that can result in a single point of failure.
While Active Directory is a distributed system, some servers only carry out specific roles, known as Flexible Single Master Operations (FSMO) roles.. If something happens to this server or you need a more substantial server to handle a particular role, you must know which servers are handling each role.
There are five FSMO roles:
How can you determine which servers hold these roles in an Active Directory forest? To find the PDC emulator, the infrastructure master, and the RID master, follow these steps:
The resulting three tabs will show you which server holds each respective role.
To find the schema master, follow these steps:
To find the domain naming master, follow these steps:
Each option features a Change button, which allows you to
move the role to another domain controller.
NOTE: You need to log into the destination DC you wish to transfer the role too or right click and select log into DC and connect to the DC you wish to transfer the roles too.
You can accomplish the same goal using a single command line command that consists of just three words,
executed from a domain controller: netdom query fsmo. The netdom utility is included as a part of the
Server 2003 Support Tools.
Here are some other good links on FSMO and how to transfer or sieve the roles: