Interface Technical Training

How to demote a Domain Controller (DC) in Windows Server 2012 Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS)

In this blog we will explore how to demote a domain controller in Windows Server 2012 Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS). 

In previous versions of Windows Server to demote a domain controller you would use the DCPROMO.exe utility.  In Windows Sever 2012 the DCPROMO utility has been deprecated.

In Windows Server 2012 we will use Server Manager or PowerShell to demote the DC.  In this blog I will be using the GUI to demote the server manager. So let’s get started.

To demote a DC from AD DS complete the following steps:

Use Server Manager to remove the Active Directory Domain Services Role.

Launch Server Manager, select the Manage drop down menu, select Remove roles and features.

  1. Review the Before You Begin page, Click Next. 
  2. On the Select installation type page ensure Role-based or feature-based installation radial button is selected, click Next.
  3. On the Select destination server page Select the desired server from the Server Pool.

        Note:  The 2012 Server Manager allows roles and features to be installed remotely.

  1. On the Remove Roles and Features Wizard, click on the Active Directory Domain Services box to remove the check box.


  1. The Remove Roles and Features dialog box Remove features that require Active Directory Domain Service pops up, select Remove Features.
  2. On the Remove Roles and Features Wizard dialog box Validation Results box will appearThe domain controller must be demoted before continuing.  Click on Demote this domain controller.

  1. On the Active Directory Domain Services Configuration Wizard enter the required credentials to demote this server, click Next.

Note:  To demote replica domain controller you must be at the least a Domain Admin to remove an entire domain from the forest or to demote the last DC of a Forest you must provide Enterprise Admin credentials.

Note:  Only select Force the removal of this domain controller if the DC and not communicate with the remaining DCs.


  1. On the New Administrator Password, enter and confirm the new local administrator account password, click Next.

  1. On the Review Options verify the information is correct and click Demote. 

This will begin the demotion process.  To finish the demotion the server will automatically restart.

Note:  When the server restarts it will be a member of the domain that is was previously a domain controller in.

Note:  The Binaries for AD DS are still installed on the server.  If this server is not going to be promoted back to a domain controller in the future rerun the Remove Roles and Features Wizard to remove the AD DS Role from the server.

Verifying the Removal of AD DS

  1. Logon to the server hosting the DNS service for the domain using the Administrator account credentials.
  2. Launch the DNS console and verify the deletion of Service Records for the removed domain controller.

Active Directory Domain Services is now been removed from this server.  

Until then, RIDE SAFE!

Rick Trader
Windows Server Instructor – Interface Technical Training
Phoenix, AZ

See what people are saying...

  1. flow

    DNS broke, couldn’t fix it, tried to demote DC to rebuild, couldn’t as DNS was broken. format time. I miss dcpromo /forceremoval

  2. Assin Ontivi

    Not a good idea IMO to remove AD from a 2012 R2 server, even though it’s within your rights to do so. I’ve seen several problems with this. Just one, in my case, was the loss of interface IP addresses from DNS server – removing and re-installing the DNS server didn’t help. DNS server was rendered useless!

    Better to re-install the server without AD. You can run the install from within Windows, and it will move the prior Windows install to \windows.old, leaving the rest of your boot drive (and other drives) intact.

  3. Pingback: Can’t log in to Windows Server 2012 after removing AD DS – Internet and Tecnnology Answers for Geeks

  4. bala

    hi i m having more doubts in sever 2012 .actuallyactually i demote the domain controller and the system was restarted after that restart i can’t able to login windows server . i was struck in cmd prompt i Dont know why ? again. i reinstalled my server .can u please tell anyone what is the solution for without reinstall please

  5. CS

    There are circumstances where you may need to do this, if the DC had a equipment failure and was down for an extended period or roles were seized, brining the server up offline and forceremoval then metadata cleanup. Or if it was taken offline for DR testing, force removal then metadata cleanup.

  6. myk

    Just removed the ADDS role from my server 2012 but can log into the administrators account with the same password again….

  7. saqib Rehman

    thanx Mr. rick informition is very good and work properly.

  8. ThommyMac

    Great article. Sadly:
    “Second, if the domain controller can not communicate with other domain controllers or the normal demotion wizard fails and you have to run the demotion wizard in -force mode, you will have to manually perform a Metadata cleanup.”

    The DC in question can see the other DCs through network browsing AND they show up in the ‘pool’ for the all servers function. Its a long story but I have to get this box off the network. I still enjoyed the article but was wondering why the box in question sees the objects in question but still insists I force it. I will force, then cleanup, and will post how it went. Thanks

  9. Interface Technical Training

    If the domain controller is demoted using the demotion wizard there is no need to perform a Metadata cleanup manually. The domain controller is removed from the Metadata as part of the demotion.

    There are a couple of situations that may require you to manually perform a Metadata cleanup.

    First, if the domain controller fails and you were unable to run the demotion wizard (example you had to rebuild the computer operating system from scratch and had no backup).

    Second, if the domain controller can not communicate with other domain controllers or the normal demotion wizard fails and you have to run the demotion wizard in -force mode, you will have to manually perform a Metadata cleanup.

    In most instances, using your desired tool, deleting the domain controller object in AD DS will remove the domain controller from the Metadata and a manual Metadata cleanup will not be required. This is supported in Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows Server 2012. Before performing a manual Metadata cleanup try deleting the object first. You can then use NTDSUTIL.EXE to verify the domain controller no longer exists in the database.

  10. Lucas Garcia

    Thanks Rick!
    I was looking for an Article of this topic. Is there any need to perfmon a metadata cleanup after these steps?

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