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Active Directory Migration Checklist for Flawless Data Transfer Within AD Environments

Published By Deepa Pandey
Anuraag Singh
Approved By Anuraag Singh
Published On February 23rd, 2024
Reading Time 10 Minutes Reading
Category Active Directory

Whenever an organization prepares for a significant change, like during acquisitions and mergers. There needs to be a proper procedure in place for shifting the infrastructure. Moreover, all those who maintain an on-premise Active Directory need an Active Directory Migration checklist ready. Not only does it reduce errors, but it also speeds up the process. Therefore, in this write-up, we go over all the different criteria to keep in mind while making a project plan for the same. 

To say that Active Directory is another one of the core Microsoft components would be an understatement. This is because administrators use it for everything, from managing permissions to controlling access to network resources. Additionally, it is the bedrock on which the Windows domain network operates. So in this guide, we cover all the basics and inform the administrators of some key points that often go unnoticed.

The first part is getting familiar with potential problems that may arise during an all-encompassing ad migration. Therefore, let’s look at areas and scenarios where there is a high chance of error.

Checklist for Active Directory Migration Challenges and Solutions

  • Hardware Compatibility Issues – As with all migration scenarios, administrators must first make sure that their hardware is capable enough to support the changes. Moreover, on the day of migration, the network should be free of any major resource-demanding tasks. This is to make sure that the pipeline being used to shift is dedicated towards the single task of data transfer; Otherwise, the process can stop midway with no other option than to start from scratch.
  • Potential Security Risks – Data migration puts an organization in a vulnerable stage, which makes it the prime target of cybercriminals. Therefore, information regarding the migration must be provided only on a need-to-know basis. The IT head responsible for the migration must make sure all security protocols are being followed and all individuals with key roles are present during the migration.
  • Resource Selection for Migration – It involves both deciding which data points need to be given top priority for migration as well as the method through which the migration will take place. Admins don’t have to think hard for the latter, as we include the most professional choice in this Active Directory migration checklist.
  • Preparation for Downtime – Oftentimes, organizations have to shut down their services temporarily during the migration, especially if it includes components like the AD. Therefore, proactive planning must be done, and IT administrators must set timelines for the downtime. Moreover, all stakeholders must have information about the unavailability of the service to reduce confusion.
  • Anticipating User Disruption – It’s not a stretch to think that downtime leads to user disruption. Organizations must anticipate and prepare accordingly. 
  • Eliminating Data Loss – Last but not least, all stakeholders (including users) must prepare a backup of relevant and critical data before the migration. 

Also Read: An Easy Way to Copy Document Library from One Site to Another Site

If any other challenge occurs, users must notify the relevant authority ASAP.

First Phase of AD Migration Checklist: Evaluation of Organizational Demands

Design and Create a New Target Domain: Before anything else, create a brand new target domain as per the organization’s core requirements. This design should incorporate naming convention, size, etc.

  • Establish network connections between the Source and Target domains
  • Build DNS forwarders from source-to-target domains and vice-versa 
  • Forklift DNS zone if need be (required in case there is no change in the zone name) 
  • Perform site replication between source and destination domain.
  • Add updates to the schema 
  • Lay out suitable ACLs
  • Create Target domain OU structure

Start Discovery (Source domain):

This means creating an inventory of all the relevant data that is to be shifted to the new domain. All users, groups, computers, network protocols, security criteria, etc.

Select Migration Type: It can be one of the following – 

  • Intra-forest Migration 
  • Inter-forest Migration 
  • Site Topology Migration 
  • Non-trusted Domain Migration 
  • Advanced User and Group Object Property Migration 
  • Migrated Object Property Customization 
  • Active Directory Delegation Migration  

After which decide on the procedure i.e. either restructure then migrate(suitable for large-scale migrations) or migrate then restructure(suitable for small-scale migrations).

Create Trusts Between Domains:

This is to make sure that data is being transferred to a known and secure destination. To do that 

  • Launch AD Domains and Trusts administrative tool.
  • Within the console tree, right-click on your domain, and pick  “Properties.”
  • Navigate to the Trusts tab and click on “New Trust,” then proceed by clicking “Next.”
  • Enter the DNS name of the domain for which you intend to establish a trust on the Trust Name page and click “Next.

Second Phase: Training, Testing, and Clean-Up

Create an Organization-specific IT Training Plan:

This is done to make users aware of the changes that are about to take place. All of the following departments must be aware of their roles and responsibilities 

  • Help Desk – Assists anyone who requires it, be it users or admins. Also acts as a knowledge gap filler between various teams.
  • Desktop team – responsible for migration of computers/ laptops, and other personal user devices and their related permissions.
  • Server team – Holds the task of moving server-level permissions and protocols between the domains.
  • Storage team – Provides insights and transfers all the critical information stored at the facility.
  • SharePoint team – All site-related migration responsibility comes under this team.
  • Exchange team – Like other teams, they have their specific job of ensuring that on-premise exchange server information reaches its intended target.
  • DBA team – Works hand in hand with the exchange teams to sort out any problems that may arise.
  • Application team(s) – As AD can house a ton of custom apps, there is a justification for setting up a team solely focused on the migration of those apps.

All of these individuals should have proper training so that they can understand what they have to do and perform their tasks error-free. Moreover, as organizations are dynamic entities, there may be other departments with respective responsibilities. The AD migration checklist should contain their roles as well.

Also Read: Learn About SharePoint Tenant to Tenant Migration With Expert Tips

Clean up / Delete Stale Objects:

During the discovery phase, many redundant data pop up. This data is for users who are no longer active, servers that are decommissioned, or hardware that is out of date. There is no use in shifting this data to the new environment.

It includes the following and more.

  • Users
  • Computers
  • Groups
  • Contacts

Third Phase of Active Directory Migration Checklist Begin Live Migration

  • Make a list of critical applications and create backup plans for them: Migration is a complicated subject, and it is more than true for AD migrations. So if due to any black swan event (Natural disaster, power outage, cyber attack, etc) your migration fails, there needs to be a rollback mechanism in place. Its job is to retrieve whatever data it can to minimize the damage caused by the event. Although some data might be lost critical infrastructure remains in place so that migration can be scheduled for later, when things cool down. the data.
  • Once the backup plan is in place next step is to create batches of items(computers, users, groups, domains, etc) to be migrated

Each group needs its users available at the destination and disabled at the source

Firewalls and other network restrictions should be turned off temporarily.

Migrate passwords if need be; otherwise, you can generate new ones at the target.

Perform the mandatory troubleshooting.  Repeat for all remaining batches.

  • During the File Server migration, Make the following checks
    • Working SIDHistory
    • Backup of current permissions
    • Use scripts to replicate the structure of old permissions 
  • Finalize migration

Best Solution for Addressing AD Migration Woes

A straight and simple way to move all AD data is none other than the SysTools Active Directory Migration Tool. With its easy-to-operate UI and tons of unique features, all migration scenarios can be completed on time.

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Designed to cover all of the different migration scenarios so it naturally falls into the essential ad migration checklist. 

A List of Features Comprised By the Software 

  • Efficiently move AD Users, Printers, Computers, Groups, and Contacts in a single comprehensive migration process.
  • Seamlessly transfer Shared Folders and Organizational Units across AD domains.
  • Facilitate the migration of Computers along with their User Profiles between Active Directory Domains.
  • Enable the creation of multiple jobs to migrate diverse AD objects concurrently.
  • Establish a flexible mapping of objects between the source and destination AD by utilizing a CSV file. Provide various options for creating or merging AD objects within the destination AD.
  • Perform migrations for one or multiple Active Directory Domains simultaneously. Seamlessly migrate objects and properties within and between AD Forests.
  • Ensure migration of newly added properties of AD objects to maintain data integrity.
  • Support the co-existence of Source and Destination Domains, allowing for a smooth transition.
  • Facilitate the migration of Access Controls, including SID History, to maintain security protocols. Enable the migration of existing user profiles from user desktops.
  • Support the automatic joining of computers to the destination domain for a streamlined migration process.
  • Facilitate a smooth migration experience for users with existing passwords.
  • Minimize downtime during migration for uninterrupted business operations. Implement an automated network connectivity check using a VPN to ensure seamless computer migration.
  • Extend support for Windows Server 2012 R2, 2016, and 2019 versions, ensuring compatibility with the latest technology.

Aftermath of Active Directory Migration Checklist

Points to keep an eye out for after an AD data transfer:

  • Examine the detailed report generated by the tool to ensure that all items are shifted correctly.
  • Update user’s level passwords with new ones that were previously unknown to them and disable all user activity on the source domain 
  • Pick out a few experienced users and hand over the responsibility of testing the new environment to them.
  • Check that AD components like computers, users, groups, and the network on which they reside are functioning properly.
  • In case the testing team encounters missing data, the retry failed items feature of the utility can be used to bring the data to its destination. 
  • If, for any reason, a new batch of previously unavailable data is to be migrated, the tool has a DeltaSyncUP button to handle the situation as well.
  • After a whole business week, if all test scenarios have passed in the new environment, it is safe to permanently close down the source domain.


In this technical guide, we taught users how to make an Active Directory Migration Checklist from scratch. We covered the most common challenges and gave them the best practices for project plan template creation. To make sure that the migration itself goes without hiccups, users can utilize the aforementioned utility without a second thought. By following the guidelines provided here, any IT administrator can be assured of a successful and error-free migration.

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