Because I get and see a lot of questions on the forums about migrations, how to’s but also about failures and people who don’t have backups to start over. So in this article I would put down some information what you could do to get your migration to a good end. Of course there is no one hundred percent guarantee, but there are some basics you should do that will help to bring it to a good end. I am writing this for a SBS migration but the steps can be used for most migration paths, SBS – SBS, Windows Server – SBS, SBS – Windows Server, Windows Server – Windows Server but also for Exchange migrations. It would be wise to read all information before you start your migration.
First thing before you even start should be to make sure you have a good backup. Make sure you have tested your server backup, so might something go wrong during migration you always can go back to the original situation. It sounds like something you should take for granted, but you would not be the first one that starts the migration and something went wrong and would go for recovery and then they came to the conclusion there wasn’t a good backup at all. So always test it before you start!
If your original server is a SBS 2003 server you can use the built in backup solution, see this document how to use it: Backing Up and Restoring Windows Small Business Server 2003.
Getting familiar with the migration process
Second before you even start with the migration would be getting yourself familiar with the migration process. What migration you are going to do (there are more guides available) you should at least read through the complete guide so you know what you can expect. Better would be to do a test migration, make a copy of your original server (backup or image) to another physical or virtual machine in a separated network environment and complete the migration process. Than you know exactly what you can expect during the migration. If you do not get a good feeling by the process just do it over and over again or get yourself some help by another it professional before you start the migration for real.
Check the health of your source server
Next thing to do is to make sure your source (original) server is in a clean state and configured correctly. If the source server has already got problems before you start the migration, this will certainly end up in problems or failures.
What you at least should do, make sure your server is up to date with updates, service packs, fixes, etc. Run the best practice or health analyzers for your product(s), it will give you all kind of information about what is configured wrong. Run tools like dcdiag.exe and netdiag.exe to check your server configuration. Check your servers even logs for warning en error messages.
Make sure you fix all problems before you start the migration!
Beside the information given in the migration guides, these articles will give you some good advice about preparing your source server:
- Demazter, Migration tip 1 source server health
- SBS Diva, Making sure you have a clean AD
- SBS Team, Standard migration keys to success
When your server is completely healthy, configured right, read all information in the previous steps and you are prepared. Make sure you follow your migration guide step by step and only continue when you are absolute sure you’ve completed the step entirely. Take your time; no one will notice anything from the migration until you are going to move data.
There are still some issues you could run into during the setup phase:
One of the problems that could give a failure is there is a time or time zone difference between the source and destination server. Make sure the time on the destination server is setup correctly in the bios.
Do not choose to install updates during the installation, this would take a lot of extra time and can give all kind of troubles during the installation / migration. It is best practice to install updates after you completed the installation.
Also see this article for some other known issues: SBS Team keys to success part 2 the setup phase.
When you run into a “Cannot connect to the domain” error message in the early stage of the installation there are still some steps you could do, see this article.
Now the actual installation can start, please not that this will take a couple of hours, so when the blue progress bar appears you could leave the server alone for a while.
Post Setup phase
When installation went successful you will see a screen Installation Finished, Run the Migration Wizard to continue migrating to Windows SBS. But if you ran into any problem, error or something else goes wrong, don’t just continue; make sure you completely understand what your problem is. Look at the SBS Team keys to success part 3 post setup and common failures for some known issues and resolutions. If your error is not there and you have no clue, ask some professional or try some community forum like: SBS Technet Forum or Expert Exchange they might have a solution. Otherwise it would be good to start over because continue with errors will in most cases end up in a bigger unresolvable problem.
Here you will find some links to additional useful information and migration guides:
- Microsoft SBS migration portal
- Demazter migration guides, good step by step guides
- Susan Bradley’s adds to the SBS 2003 SBS 2011 migration guide
- Mpecs sbs 2003 – 2011 migration guide
For a different migration approach with support you also take a look at SBS migration.
For a lot of SBS 2011 information also take a look at my SBS 2011 index file with a lot of installation and configuration and all kind of other information.