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How to 'upgrade' your Windows 2003 server to 2008 R2 for file servers

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With the withdrawal of support for Windows Server 2003 this summer, many clients face the issue of moving away from their 2003 installs. There are a few options out there that many people/companies are selling. But the clients I have, haven't wanted to spend a lot or tip their toes into newer tech (such as Azure). So based on those projects here is my step by step guide to take a Windows Server 2003 File Share server, backup the data using Robocopy, rebuild the same physical server with Windows Server 2008 R2 and again using Robocopy, more the data and more importantly the file permissions back.
 

What you will need


  1. Somewhere to store the files that need to be migrated. The last few times I have run a project like this I used a 6TB External WD Drive
  2. Licenses. The client needs to have the correct Windows Server licenses in place
  3. Hardware that the client is happy to run the 2008 R2 servers on. The last few times I did this, the hardware was new enough that I was able to re-use the same hardware
  4. Robocopy - The beauty of Robocopy is that you can copy the existing file shares from the server and preserve the file permissions. You can run it multiple times and each time Robocopy will copy the files it missed the last time (great if running the task in hours)
 

Recommendations

I would highly recommend planning, even the smallest of migrations. You need to consider:

  1. Hardware
  2. Software
  3. Licenses
  4. RAID Configurations
  5. How the logical drives should be made up
 

Short task list:


  1. Plan
  2. Plan
  3. PLAN
  4. Use Robocopy to back up
  5. Wipe server RAIDs (if using same tin)
  6. Rebuild server RAIDs and configure drives as required (if using same tin)
  7. Install new OS (if using same tin)
  8. Use Robocopy to copy files back
  9. Setup share/s
  10. Test
  11. Go Live
 

Step By Step

First of all, you need to look at the current hardware and disk config. Plan what the client needs. Discuss with the client data growth. This is also a good opportunity to resize any server system drive that came from supplier prebuilt with a ridiculous low size (most people will know what I mean so I'm not naming any manufacturers!!).  Planning is very important and without you'll go wrong. I have run at tasks like this and spend weekends kicking myself because I went at the task without the proper planning (online search for the 6/7 P's here!!).

Next you need to get to grips with Robocopy. The most useful sites (IMHO) are:
Technet
SS64
Wikipedia
The tool itself is very robust (pun intended) yet simple -- which also means dangerous. Familiarise yourself with the switches and always use the test mode first before running live tasks!

For my last migration these are the Robocopy scripts I used:
 
robocopy D:\ E:\ITADataServerWork\DATA01\D_Drive /MIR /SEC /XF *.sys *.dat *.log *.cfd /XD "System Volume Information"/R:1 /W:1 /REG /V /LOG+:"E:\Logs\DATA01DDrive.txt"

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The break down of this script (which is saved as a .bat) is:
robocopy - launches the application
D:\ - the source folder
E:\ITADataServerWork\DATA01\D_Drive - the destination folder
/MIR - switch which will MIRROR all folders and files
/SEC - copies NTFS Security
/XF  - exclude the following file types '*.sys *.dat *.log *.cfd'
/XD - exclude the following folder/s "System Volume Information"
/R:1 - Specifies the number of retries on failed copies. The default value of N is 1,000,000 (one million retries).
/W:1 - Specifies the wait time between retries, in seconds. The default value of N is 30 (wait time 30 seconds).
/REG - store the above two settings in the registry
/V - Produces verbose output, and shows all skipped files.
/LOG+:"E:\Logs\DATA01DDrive.txt" - Writes the status output to the log file (appends the output to the existing log file).
/NP - Specifies that the progress of the copying operation (the number of files or directories copied so far) will not be displayed in the command window

The great thing about using Robocopy is that every time you ran the same script, Robocopy will only copy files that have changed. So you can run the script during production hours and any file that is open (i.e. locked) and therefore won't copy, but when you next run the script Robocopy will try to copy those files. I find that once you see results like this:
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
ROBOCOPY     ::     Robust File Copy for Windows     ::     Version XP010
------------------------------------------------------------------------------<
Started : Tue May 19 10:59:37 2015
Source : D:\
Dest : E:\ITADataServerWork\DATA01\D_Drive\
Files : *.*
Options : *.* /V /NDL /NFL /S /E /COPY:DATS /PURGE /MIR /NP /REG /R:1 /W:1
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
          Total        Copied      Skipped         Mismatch    FAILED    Extras
Dirs :     555036        1          555035            0           0        0
Files :   3325622        6         3325616            0           0        0
Bytes :   357.532 g      7.97 m    357.524 g          0           0        0
Times :   1:40:50   0:00:00                       0:00:00   1:40:49
Speed :            38170283 Bytes/sec.
Speed :            2184.121 MegaBytes/min.
Ended : Tue May 19 17:31:01 2015

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Once there were zero counts under the last three columns, I knew that all files I needed had been copied to the external drive.

Next step is to copy the same files back to the new server. This will either be onto a brand new server or you will do what I was able to do which was rebuild the current server. I was able to wipe the RAIDs, create new RAIDs, install Server 2008R2 and configure the OS they way the client wanted. I'm not going to desciibe that here as that is a whole other article!

Once you have the server you want to use to copy the files back, you need to run the robocopy script to do the total opsite of the above! So from the above it would be:
 
robocopy E:\ITADataServerWork\DATA01\D_Drive D:\Shares /MIR /SEC /XF *.sys *.dat *.log *.cfd /XD "System Volume Information"/R:1 /W:1 /REG /V /LOG+:"E:\Logs\DATA01DDriveCopyBack.txt"

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Once you have checked the new log file and see similar to:
 
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
ROBOCOPY     ::     Robust File Copy for Windows     ::     Version XP010
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Started : Fri May 22 10:59:37 2015
Source : E:\ITADataServerWork\DATA01\D_Drive\
Dest :  D:\Shares
Files : *.*
Options : *.* /V /NDL /NFL /S /E /COPY:DATS /PURGE /MIR /NP /REG /R:1 /W:1
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
          Total        Copied      Skipped         Mismatch    FAILED    Extras
Dirs :     555036        1          555035            0           0        0
Files :   3325622        6         3325616            0           0        0
Bytes :   357.532 g      7.97 m    357.524 g          0           0        0
Times :   1:40:50   0:00:00                       0:00:00   1:40:49
Speed :            38170283 Bytes/sec.
Speed :            2184.121 MegaBytes/min.
Ended : Fri May 22 10:31:01 2015

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(Please note that I have change some of the data and time information in the above logs so please don't comment saying the figures don't add up - because they won't! :-)  )

Then you are ready to test file security. You will need to setup Shares and Permissions as Robocopy only copies NTFS permissions.

Once you have tested you should find everything as it was before.

Thats it!

If you have any comments or feedback please leave as normal in the comments section below.

Thanks
Mark

 
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Author:Mark Galvin
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