Migrating from SBS 2003 to Windows Server Essentials 2012 R2

migr2Just as a heads up, most of the Technet articles I found on doing a SBS 2003 to Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials migration cover Server 2012, not 2012 R2 and they all mention installing the server in “Migration Mode” and grabbing the “Server Migration Prep Tool” from a folder on the DVD called support\tools.


Server 2012 Essentials R2 is a separate product than Server 2012 Essentials, and the two, tho related, do not share some bits.

I found out the hard way by doing an install, then seeing the Migration Mode stuff, and restarting the install, only to find there was no migration mode option.

But, they do have a document that spells it all out for you, without using the missing Migration Mode install… Lots of threads with “I just installed Server 2012 R2 Essentials and I am also not seeing the migration install option anywhere.” messages.  Happily someone pointed them (and me) here:

Migrate from Previous Versions to Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials or Windows Server Essentials Experience which can be found here:  http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dn408633.aspx

Posted so I don’t lose the link, and maybe people Googling will find it easier than I did. 🙂

When Jeff Deleted One Registry Value, You Wouldn’t Believe The Difference It Made or Accessing SBS 2003 Previous Versions on Win 7/Server 2008

Dropped a Server 2008 R2 machine in to a client’s environment to act as a Remote Desktop Host, but when I went to check on Previous Versions functionality, I saw that all the entries were the same date when accessed from the 2008 box, but they were fine on my XP clients and the 2003 box itself.


Happily, the good folks over the SBS Blog at Technet (where I stole the above screenshot from) had a simple fix there for the searching.  We just had to delete a registry key that was there to help Windows 2000 clients.  Since we don’t have those anymore, we can safely get rid of the key and restore our functionality.  It doesn’t even require a reboot!  (This holds for non SBS flavors of Server 2003 as well.)

  1. On your SBS 2003 server, open REGEDIT and navigate to the following location:
  2. Right click on parameters and select Export.
  3. Once the export is completed, find the entry for DisableDownLevelTimewarp, select it and then delete it.

That’s it!

Upgrading SBS 2003 to SBS 2011

So, we’re at a client’s and we have to do a migration from SBS 2003 to SBS 2011.

We’re relying on Microsoft’s instructions to get us through the night.

It’s 7:31 pm on a Friday night.  The air conditioning in the office has been turned off, so it’s a bit sultry.  I prepped the source server last night — just made sure its service packs and patches were up to date.  Now that I’m on site, I’m ready to make my answer file.

To do so, we need to install some tools from the SBS 2011 install media (which happily Dell included).

Sadly, the pre-requsites to using the tool don’t run on Windows XP, and this is an XP shop.


However, I’ve got two Dell Inspiron 560s ready to be dropped down and they have Windows 7 on them, so let me unbox one and get it powered up so I can get the server migration started.

(I had planned on installing the workstations when the data was migrating… looks like I get a jump on it…)

I’ll be back once I’m unboxed…

 7:56 – Machine unboxed, Facebook notified of liveblogging, OOBE completed, waiting for my desktop customizations and personal settings to be applied. Backup of source server in progress.

8:22 – Machine joined to domain, Migration Assistant installed and waiting for backup to finish…

8:31 – Backup can take 7 hours.  Uh-oh.  Wait!  The server is running in a VM!  There was a hardware failure which precipated this migration so we brought the old box back up in a VM.  (Pretty slick apart from a couple licewnsing activation gotchas.  “DRM — Screwing the honest since 1998.”) So, I can just take a snapshot and roll back if anything goes horribly wrong! Score! Back on schedule!

8:37 – Migration Assistant found some issues…

9:08 – Issues persist.  Odd ones  that aren’t true – the remote registry service IS running, but the migration assistant refuses to believe it…

9:51 – Ran some more hotfixes on the server after SBS BPA suggested it.

10:16 – Re-read some documentation.  Last night, I read that (what I thought was) the migration assistant needed to be run on a workstation, not the server.  That does not seem to the case.  I’ve spent the last hour chasing down ghosts.

10:20 – Running the MA on the SBS server worked right out of the box.  FML.  Wasted all this time due to my stupid brain.  Stupid, stupid brain.

LESSON 1: Run the Migration Tool ON THE SOURCE SERVER.

10:42 – Answer file created, copied to USB key, USB key in destination server and the install is now running on the destination server.  Right out of the box, the new Dell server runs thru its little preinstall and then dumps you at a screen that says “Basic or Migration Install?”  I choose Migration, it reads the answer file like magic, and we’re off to the races.

I created the answer file to not be unattended. I like clicking NEXT when I do my server installs – just to make sure everything is right one last time before committing.  Good thing too, since I misspelled the domain name on the credentials section of the answer file…

Now we wait what may be 30 minutes for Windows to expand its installation files…

10:53 – Server just rebooted itself…

10:54 – Seemed to apply some updates, back to waiting for expanding files… and in the time it took me to type this, it started rebooting again… and we wait some more…

11:02 – Finally, motion!  The bar on the screen started moving across.  I guess all the updates are done… more waiting…

11:03 – I guess it connected to the domain because a printer mapping came up and failed due to an incompatible driver… more waiting…

11:31 – 80% of the way thru the bar.  “Up to 30 minutes,” indeed!”  Luckily, the new workstations (before decrapifying) have the WildTangent games on them.  They’re usually the first things to go, but right now, I’m glad they’re here…

11:43 – 90% of the way thru… when does the 6 hour “migrating data from old server” start?

11:44 – No sooner than I type that, then Explorer starts putting up its “Customizing Browser Customizations…” dialog, and the SBS Setup program quits with an error.  Swell.  (Looks at logs… might it have something to do with time synchronization?!?)

12:12 – Fantastic.  The source server got hung up (a backup started: LESSON TWO – STOP TASK SCHEDULER) and the clock stopped advancing, which caused Kerberos errors, and then the only way to recover is TO START OVER.  So, rebooted both servers, booted off the DVD on the destination server, reformatted the partitions and am now sitting thru the whole thing again.  Sloppy… but this is why we flat-rate server installs… my mistakes are my own and come out of my end, not the client’s.

12:41 – We’re back at where we were at 10:42.  Lost almost 2 hours ot the minute.  Dang.  Worst part, is I don’t have a key to the building, so I’m trapped here.  Can’t even go out for a bite and come back…

1:08 – Server install fails with “JoinDomain_DCPROMO Failed…” – turns out the initial failed install got as far as seizing all the roles from the other server and was already in the domain.  So, instead of trying to reverse everything I did, I just reverted to the snapshot from 8:31.

1:22 – Snapshot still had the anti-virus installed and didn’t have the migration assistant run, so we’re waiting for the post-AV, pre-MA reboot.  *sigh* I’ll be pretty good at this when I finally get it done… tho I am ECSTATIC that the server is a VM and all it took was the snapshot to roll it back.  I don’t know what I would have done (likely a clean install, then a manual migration of mail and a visit to all workstations to rejoin them to the domain) if I didn’t have that capability…

4:19 – Been a while.  Had to give two it more tries.  Both failures.  This last time, I logged in to the domain once as the new user they want you to create to act as the migration account, and maybe that was the charm, because now — seven hours after we started — I can proceed to STEP FOUR of the 19 Step Migration document…

8:34 AM – Looked good for a while, then it didn’t.  The Migration Wizard on 2011 isn’t as automated as one might hope, and in my bleary eyed state, I made some missteps and by the end, nothing seemed right, so I punted.  Old server restored from snapshot and I will take another run at this soon, once I catch up on some sleep and more reading in the migration guide.

The C: Drive on My SBS 2003 Box Keeps Running Out of Space

For a while, Dell was shipping their Small Business Servers with a 12GB System partition.  While that may have seemed like a lot of space at one time, it’s not amymore, and we’re seeing clients’ servers getting stressed out as they’re pushing the limits of the partition size.

Upon setting up the server, moving the USERS share was always the first order of business.  Even when 12GB seemed roomy, it was obvious 15 users was going to eat their way through the share space in nothing flat, and a move to the data partition was in order.

The Health & Monitoring server was another space hog, with its database growing out of control until it expanded, like a gas, to fill all available space.  So, a quick reinitialization of the database clears up some space…

But a lot of these things are quick fixes, but there’s a lot of them… so it was very nice of Microsoft to bundle all of them into a single document: Moving Data Folders for Windows Small Business Server 2003

The 600k Word Document is a tremendous little cookbook! It covers just about everything:

  • Step 1: Complete and Verify a Full Backup
  • Step 2: Notify Users that Resources will be Unavailable
  • Step 3: Move the Users Shared Folders
  • Step 4: Move the SharePoint Databases
  • Step 5: Move the Monitoring Database
  • Step 6: Move Exchange Databases and Log Files
  • Step 7: Move the Sent Faxes Folder
  • Step 8: Move the ClientApps Shared Folder

Thanks, SBS Team!

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