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Simple Guide : How to Rename Domain Name in Windows Server 2012?

June 10, 2013

For Server Admin who familiar with Windows Server 2000 & 2003, you maybe still remember about RENDOM utility, which is this use to rename Windows 2000 @ 2003 domain name and have to install manually.

But in Windows Server 2012 domain you don’t have to separately install “Rendom” utility.

It gets installed as part of “Active Directory Domain Services” role when you promote a server to the DC role. And It can be found here : %windir%\system32\rendom.exe.

For this time Simple Guide, I will show you all how to rename domain name in Windows Server 2012, the process is straightforward.. but as usual.. backup any necessary information @ Server before you proceed & I always advice especially to my students, please do this exercises in LAB Environment (Hyper-V).  Don’t simply take any risk by doing this is production environment unless you have to!!.

For this exercises, I’m using MCT courseware from 20410B (Installing and Configuring Windows Server 2012).

The existing domain is ADATUM.COM and I will rename it to CPX.LOCAL.

** for those who want to built your own AD and try this exercises, please refer to my previous post

So, let get started…

1 – Open your System Properties and check your existing domain name, if you see from my Windows Server 2012 system properties, my existing domain name is This will be change to cpx.local in the short while.


2 – Next, open your Server Dashboard, go to Tools & click DNS to open DNS Manager..


3 – on the DNS Manager, you must create the New DNS Zone (cpx.local), this is to make sure that after whole process successfully, your member server @ Windows clients can join to new Domain name.

** to create new DNS Zone, Right Click Forward Lookup Zone, and click New Zone


4 – On the Welcome to the New Zone Wizard, just click Next button..


5 – On the Zone Type, Click Primary Zone and click Next..


6 – On the Active Directory Zone Replication Scope, click button To all DNS servers running on domain controllers in this and click Next…


7 – In the Zone Name, key in your new Domain Name, my new Domain Name is cpx.local


8 – On the Dynamic Update, Click Allow only secure dynamic updates (recommended for Active Directory), and click Next…


9 – On the completing the New Zone Wizard, click Finish to complete the process.


10 – On DNS Manager, you can see my new Domain Name is listed (cpx.local)


11 – Next, open Command Prompt, run as administrator.. 


12 – In CMD, type rendom /list and press enter – this command use to generate a state file named Domainlist.xml. This file contains the current forest configuration.


13 – Next, open computer and browse to C:\Users\Administrator folder to get your Domainlist.xml.


14 – Once you see the Domainlist.xml, right click the file name & choose Edit.. I going to change the DNSname and NetBiosName in this  Domainlist.xml file.


15 – Once the  Domainlist.xml open, you can see there are few existing Domain name, change this existing domain name to new domain name.. refer to picture:


16 – once you change to new Domain name, make sure you save the  Domainlist.xml file..


17 – After you save the  Domainlist.xml file, close it and return to CMD. On the CMD, type rendom /showforest. This is to show the potential changes; this step does not make any changes.


18 – Next, type rendom /upload. This is to upload the rename instructions (Domainlist.xml) to the configuration directory partition on the domain controller holding the domain naming operations master role.


19 – Next, type rendom /prepare. This use to verify the readiness of each DC in the forest to carry out the rename instructions. This should contact all DC’s successfully and return no errors before proceed to next process.


20 – Next, type rendom /execute. This is to verifies readiness of all DC’s and then preforms the rename action on each one.

** Remember also there will be a service interruption during this process. Once the process successful, your DC Server will be restarted.



21 – Once your DC Server restarted, log in using the new Domain name as administrator.


22 – Next, after you successfully log in, open System Properties and check your old Domain Name is now gone.. replace by new Domain name…


23 – Next, open CMD again, and type gpfixup / /newdns:cpx.local. This is to refresh all intradomain references and links to group policy objects.



24 – Next, type gpfixup /oldnb:lon-dc1 /newnb:cpx..



25 – Next, type rendom /clean. This is to remove references of the old domain name from AD.



26 – Next, type rendom /end. This is to unfreeze the forest configuration and allow further changes. This was frozen during the rendom /upload step.



27 – Next, Open DNS Manager, click your new created domain (cpx.local), here you can see your own IP listed but we still have long way to go to make sure this DNS Zone is working..



28 – Next, turn on your client PC, for this exercise I’m using Windows 8 as a client. Open System Properties and join to new Domain (cpx.local). in case you getting an error, don’t get scared!!.. just click OK and you Windows Security box will show up and now key in administrator and domain password and click OK (Welcome to the cpx.local domain). Refer pictures..







29 – After your Windows 8 restart, log in as a domain administrator.



30 – Once you log in, double check Windows 8 System Properties. Now your Windows 8 successfully join in to new Domain (cpx.local).



31 – Now, go to the Server 2012 and open DNS Manager, you can see now your Windows 8 Client is listed in DNS.



32 – You can also check in Active Directory Users & Computers that your Windows 8 Client now also listed.



Orait.. I done for now.. c’ya in next post!!!


  1. Thank you for a very simple and easy-to-understand explanation of a solution to a potentially huge problem!

  2. full98 permalink

    Your Windows 8 client machine was already joined to the old domain? If it were, passing from the old domain to the new one, will I lose the user’s data stored on client machine?
    Thanks! Very great and useful guide!

    • Oscar Öhrling permalink

      I tried this with a W7 computer joined to the domain before renaming. After I renamed the domain and restarted the DC I could sign into my W7 using the new domain name without problems! (It was successfully registred in DNS after reboot)

  3. Ali Engin permalink

    Thank you; simple and good expression.

  4. scootieflakes permalink

    that was awesome and simple. Thank you very muhc

  5. Michael permalink

    Very nice! Great detailed step-by-step instructions. Many thanks!

  6. Joff permalink

    Thank you for this guide! The best I have seen so far as it worked forst shot!

  7. Brad permalink

    Remarkably easy. Great instructions. Thanks!!!

  8. Deepak Wadhwana permalink

    some one told me it is very hard to change the name of A D. But you show us very easy way. Thank Sir!

  9. permalink

    Great guide. But I had to go into Name change in the DC and change the dns suffix.

  10. Sorin permalink

    Thank you a lot for your effort to create this tutorial. Was very helpfully for me…

  11. Mihail permalink

    Nice guide, thankyou

  12. Nice Guide, Thanks

  13. Vishawdeep permalink

    Life saver.. 🙂 thanku so much….

  14. Robert permalink

    Although Microsoft says “Domain rename is also not supported in a forest in which Exchange Server 2007 or Exchange Server 2010 is deployed. “, your technique does seem to work in a lab environment. Has any one had a real world success in this?

  15. I read this article completely on the topic of the comparison of newest and previous technologies, it’s awesome article.

  16. Muhammad Yaqoob permalink

    You are my hero 😀

  17. Kay Dee permalink

    Thank you so much for writing &posting this detailed instruction – I’ve used this guide verbatim to successfully rename a WS2012 R2 domain. Kudos

  18. Jerry Lemer permalink

    Great article on step by step process. The only thing is that i had to manually change my server name from the old primary DNS suffix of the computer to the new one and the old domain name is still in the FLZ. BTW, I was using 2012R2

  19. Gordon Copestake permalink

    Thanks for the guide. Although I would guess most people would be doing the reverse! Going from CPX.LOCAL to ADATUM.COM (Or better yet AD.ADATUM.COM)

  20. respect!!! This is a huge help 😀 thank you so much

  21. Thomas permalink

    All is perfect ! BUT in System Properties the full computer name is still ‘servername.OldDNS’ is there any way to update this as well?

  22. Pr0fessi0nal permalink

    all are perfect.respect.really thank you

  23. ashraf permalink

    thank u sir

  24. Brilliant instructions. Thanks a lot.

  25. Humphrey permalink

    Worked out perfectly… Thankyou

  26. that is great

  27. Ok. I think I figured it out. It’s for the NetBIOS name. If I wanted to keep that the same I guess I would just skip that and would it be ok to keep the same.?

    Also from what I’ve tested so far. My client PCs did not update after reboot. I had to go switch their domains. AD accounts work after that and it seems to use the same existing accounts so that’s good.

  28. Thank you I managed to change my domain name with these instructions. The only part that confused me was step “24 – Next, type gpfixup /oldnb:lon-dc1 /newnb:cpx..”. I assumed you where trying to change the netbios name of the DC. I’m not sure. Anyway I left my netbios name the same and it worked fine.

    Thanks again.

  29. Adarsh permalink

    Thanks a lot…..

  30. Amit Dangi permalink

    Thank you for such a nice post….helped me to get a rid of a huge problem in very first attempt.

  31. Peter permalink

    Great work!!
    This tutorial help me and save a lot of time!

  32. Tom ONeil permalink

    This is freaking awesome! It’s 4 am and I might get some sleep !

  33. X-Factor permalink

    Excellent guide, worked very well

  34. Mark permalink

    I want to thank you so much for this guide! It was very helpful for me at work 🙂

    A note for those that have their server configured as a CA: You’ll need to remove this role if you want to change the full hostname of your server (full hostname contains your old domain name).

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