Using Virtual Server in an Active Directory Environment

Using Virtual Server in an Active Directory Environment


You wish to use Microsoft's Virtual Server product to deploy Active Directory domain controllers.


Microsoft has two product offerings in the virtual technology space: Virtual PC and Virtual Server. Virtual PC is useful for test environments, such as when you are vetting operating system patches from Windows Update or testing Group Policy changes before deploying them into a production environment. To actually deploy virtual servers in a production environment, you should use Microsoft's Virtual Server product. Similar to the VMWare offerings, Virtual Server allows you to run multiple virtual server instances (called guests) on a single piece of physical hardware (called a host).

When you create a virtual server, it is represented on the hard drive of the host by a single .vhd file, which represents the entire hard drive of the virtual machine. It is therefore critical to handle these VHD files with care, as starting up an out-of-date instance of a virtual domain controller can cause replication issues similar to what would happen if you fired up a similarly out-of-date physical DC. Similarly, you should avoid using the Undo Disks feature of Virtual Server with a virtual domain controller, as you can also create replication issues by rolling Active Directory back to an earlier state in this manner.

See Also

MS KB 888794 (Things to Consider When a Windows Server 2003-Based Domain Controller or a Windows 2000-Based Domain Controller Runs In a Virtual Hosting Environment), MS KB 875495 (How to Detect and Recover from a USN Rollback in Windows Server 2003), and Running Domain Controllers in Virtual Server 2005 (

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