Installing A Domain Controller Using IFM In Windows Server 2016

Installing and configuring a domain controller in Windows Server is not a difficult task. There are many ways to configure a domain controller in Windows server. Some of the common methods to configure domain controller are:

  • Use the Server Manager tool, if you are a guy who loves to work with GUI interface.
  • Use the answer file that contains a script to install a domain controller.
  • Use the Install From Media (IFM) option to configure a domain controller.

In this post, we will explain how to install a domain controller using IFM. The Install From Media (IFM) is a feature that allows you to configure a Windows server such as Windows Server 2012 and Windows Server 2016 as a domain controller. But just ask a simple question to yourself. Why and when we need to install a domain controller using IFM?

Why and when we need to install a domain controller using IFM?

To understand the use of IFM, consider the following scenario:

You have a Primary Domain Controller (PDC) named DC1 located at Sydney headquarter. Now, you have been asked to deploy an additional domain controller in Mumbai that will handle the clients’ requests for the users reside in the Mumbai zone. You have two options to deploy an ADC in Mumbai branch: The first is to configure domain controller using the traditional method in which all the AD DS database files will be transferred from PDC to ADC over the network. If both the PDC and ADC are connected through a slow network link, it may take a significant amount of time. One more factor that may cause the issue is bandwidth consumption. If the size of AD DS database files is too large, it may consume a large amount of bandwidth during the transferring process. Here comes the second method “IFM” as a solution for these kinds of situations.

IFM helps you to reduce the network bandwidth consumption used during the ADC configuration. By using the IFM you can export the Active Directory database file (NTDS) to an external media, such as DVD or USB. Then you can take it offline to configure an additional domain controller. Just insert the external media in ADC and use it as a source for the AD DS database files. Thus, IFM reduces the consumption of network bandwidth and also reduces the configuration time.

Steps to Install a Domain Controller Using IFM

To demonstrate the step by step guide to install an additional domain controller using the IFM, first, understand the topology we are going to use.

We have a pre-configured primary domain controller named DC1 ( We have one more server named SERVER1 ( that we will use to install an additional domain controller using the IFM. Both the servers are running on Windows Server 2016. We assume that both the servers are well connected to each other.

The step by step guide to install and configure an ADC using IFM includes the following major tasks:

Generate an IFM Data File

The first task is to generate an IFM data file on the DC1. To do so, execute the following commands at the command prompt on DC1.

Activate instance ntds
Create sysvol full C:\IFM 

Install a domain controller using IFMThe preceding commands will create an IFM data file under the C:\IFM folder that holds the AD DS database files required to configure the additional domain controller. Copy the IFM folder on your external drive and move on the SERVER1 that will be configured as an ADC. If you don’t have external media right now, don’t worry, jump to next task.

Install the Active Directory Server Roles on SERVER1

Insert the external drive on SERVER1 and copy the IFM folder on the server. If you don’t have the external drive right now, there is an alternative to perform this step by step guide. Just map the C:\IFM folder of DC1 on SERVER1 and assume that it is your local drive that contains the AD DS database file. To do so, execute the following command on SERVER1.

Net use Z: \\DC1\c$\IFM

Now, you are ready to configure Domain Controller using IFM. Launch the Add role and features wizard and navigate to the Select server roles page. Select the Active Directory Domain Services server role, follow the on-screen instructions on the rest of the pages and complete the installation. 

Install a Domain Controller Using IFM on SERVER1

  1. To install and configure a server as a domain controller using the IFM data file, execute the following command.
    Robocopy Z: C:\IFM /copyall /s

    How to create IFM file

    Click here to know more about the robocopy command.

  2. Using the Server Manager console, launch the Promote this server to a domain controller wizard. On the Deployment Configuration page, ensure that the Add a domain controller to an existing domain radio button is selected. Also, ensure that your domain name is already populated in the Domain field as shown in the following figure.Configure Domain controller using IFM
  3. On the Domain Controller Options page, review the selected options. Set the DSRM password and proceed to Next.
  4. In the Supply the credentials to perform this operation section, you need to specify an account (domain account) that has the administrative privilege to add a new domain controller. To do so, click Change and specify the domain account. On the Additional Options page, select the Install from media option and specify the path of the IFM data file (C:\IFM). Verify the path of the IFM file to avoid any error. In the Replicate from drop-down list, you can select the desired domain controller from which you want to replicate the changes. Verify the IFM data source file4

    Hey! wait a minute! which changes will be replicated? The changes that are made after copying the IFM data file.

  5. Follow the on-screen instructions for all the rest of pages and complete the installation process. The installation process will start and the server will be restarted, once the configuration is completed. Wait for the server to restart.

That’s all you need to do to install a domain controller using IFM in Windows Server 2016. Would you like to share the article? If yes, you are a great learner.

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