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Practices for renaming an SBS2003 server and domain

Posted on 2006-06-23
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Hi experts,

I have read through the topics and fully understand that it is not possible to rename an SBS2003 server and domain without fully reinstalling. Unfortunately, that is what we have to do. I have a couple of questions regarding the processes I should go through to do this. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

1. Does anyone know of a resource outlining the steps to follow for this proceedure? I REALLY don't want to miss anything! Like backing up mailboxes, copying user names and account settings etc. I guess I'm going to do this all manually (using exmerge on the mailboxes and writing down users and privelidges) but is there a better way to do this???

2. Can I simply do an install of SBS over the top of itself (like with XP)? Will this leave all data files in tact (like users individual folders, so I can just recreate the users and reset permissions)?

3. Has anyone done this smoothly before? Any tips to make my life easier?

Thanks everyone for any help. This is happening tomorrow, so wish me luck!
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Question by:lukerussell
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by:Jeffrey Kane - TechSoEasy
ID: 16967623
1.  It can't be done.

2.  No, because of Exchange and other Windows Server limitations.

3.  Yes. But you only have two choices:  Either follow the procedure in this document, http://sbsurl.com/migrate, or use the Swing Migration process from www.sbsmigration.com.

The first method will require that you install to new hardware.  The SBSMigration method allows you to swing it back to the original machine, using a temporary machine in the interim.

Finally... if you're starting tomorrow... I'd suggest that you don't move so quickly without knowing where you are going... you'll end up with a non-working server if you're not careful.

Jeff
TechSoEasy

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by:lukerussell
ID: 16973697
Thanks, Jeff...

We don't have the luxury of two servers.

1. I probably wasn't clear enough... I know we will have to back up all mailboxes and restart from scratch. Re-create AD and permissions. I was going to use exmerge to extract mailboxes to pst files and then reimport them into the new server install. I'm sure this has been done countless times before, I was just wondering if there was a resource somewhere detailing the process so I didn't forget anything.

2. So I have to reformat the hard drive??? I wanted to be able to reinstall the OS from scratch, but keep non-windows files on the server (like users data files) Like when you do an XP reinstall over the top of itself - it reinstalls all system files, so you have a new version of XP, but all other folders (like c:\Installs or something) are not touched. 2003SBS doesn't work the same? I don't care if mailboxes and exchange data is lost because I will be backing all that up.
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Jeffrey Kane - TechSoEasy earned 500 total points
ID: 16977934
You don't need the "luxury" of two servers... for the swing method you can use on of your workstations or even a laptop if you want... it's just a temporary need for making the change.

1.  I think that I need to create such documentation because I haven't seen it anywhere.  I believe that it's less work to manually migrate if you have less than 15 users, but more than that the Swing Migration method would be best.  At any rate, here are the basic things that need to be done before doing the new install:

Backup all user settings on each workstation by running the Windows XP Files and Settings Transfer Wizard.  Select to transfer only "Settings" and just store the transfer file right on that workstation's C: drive.
Unjoin the workstations from the domain.
Disconnect the SBS Internet connection.
Run a complete backup using the SBS Backup Now Wizard
Export all mailboxes using XMerge
Backup all Group Policy Objects
Backup the C:\Program Files\Microsoft Windows Small Business Server\ folder
Backup the \Users Share folder

All SBS backups should be done to a USB hard drive, or a networked hard drive --- which would be much slower than USB.  Or, to an extra internal hard drive that you would disconnect during your reinsatllation.  

If you have an imaging program available to you (especially Acronis True Image Server) I would highly recommend using that as an extra backup, just in case.

2.  There is no comparison to Windows XP in this process.  When you reinstall XP over the top of itself you are not reinstalling an Active Directory Domain Controller (which controls the access to all things on your network based on SID's (Unique Security Identifiers that will be recreated on your new install) and you are not reinstalling an Exchange Server which whether or not you back up the mailboxes, there are many more integrated links between it and the rest of the OS.

Therefore, you need to get rid of the current Registry and Master File Table.  This can only be done by reformatting.

If your data files are on a separate drive you can leave them there but I suggest that you disconnect that drive during the installation process.  Connected drives as well as partitions left in place during the installation of an Operating System could potentially cause problems such as system files being written to the wrong volume.  The best way to ensure against this is to have NOTHING else on the drive(s) during your install.

For data files, you could certainly restore those from your full backup (choosing to not restore any of the security settings which will allow them to just take on the settings of the folders on the newly rebuilt server).  You could also just copy back the \Users share as I recommended that you backup above.


Hope that explains it well enough.  But please let me know if you have further questions.

Jeff
TechSoEasy
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by:lukerussell
ID: 16980656
Thanks, Jeff!

Unfortunately, I think I left my question a bit late and so had to do this before your answer, but thanks anyway - it was extremely throrugh and I'm sure will help people in the future.

Just one thing, I did actually do an install of 2003 over the top of itself and it worked fine.

The only thing I had to do was rename the exchsvr folder in program files, otherwise the Exchange part of SBS wouldn't install (it won't install if there is already data in the MBDATA folder). Everything else worked fine - all users data in our company folder was left in tact and I just had to take over ownership. Windows did create a new system folder (called windows.0) supposedly because the c:\Windows folder alreay existed, but that hasn't created any problems. The rest I did as you advised above, exmerged the mailboxes and recreated users and all seems to be working fine!

Thanks for taking the time to help out. there were a lot of questions about changing domain names on an SBS server, so hopefully your full description above should help them out in the future...
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by:Jeffrey Kane - TechSoEasy
ID: 16998983
lukerussell,

I would certainly hope that this works out for you.  The fact that it created a new Windows.0 folder would make me think there will be problems later on due to the fact that you have two windows directories, and that there probably MANY registry entries that already exist for the old one.

Also, your renaming of the Exchsvr folder would also be of concern again because of specific references in the registry as well as active directory... both of which use randomly generated ID strings that would not stay consistent with an install such as you have done.

It may all work now... but I would suspect that you will run into problems which you may characterize as "strange or weird" behavior when attempting to install anything else, or just to make configuration changes.

If it were me, I'd reformat and reinstall so that there aren't any extraneous directories such as you have.

Jeff
TechSoEasy
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by:lukerussell
ID: 16999131
Thanks for the vote of confidence ;-)

Hopefully we'll be all right. Done all service pack updates and so far all is good. I don't know if this is correct, but isn't the registry made up from a number of files in the windows folder? So the new registry will have been entirely rebuilt from the Windows.0 directory, won't it?

I have also since deleted the old exchange folder which I renamed and so far no hiccups. Also gotten rid of the old Windows directory, and we're still up and running. Touch wood, eh!
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by:Jeffrey Kane - TechSoEasy
ID: 16999408
It's true that the registry is made up of those files... and since you've deleted the original Windows directory, you may be okay there... because sometimes it will look to both for info.  However, I'm still worried about the Wizards since they may not recognize the right location... although theoretically you can name the Windows directory anything you like... it's just that there may be leftover items... somewhere.

Jeff
TechSoEasy
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by:lukerussell
ID: 17005636
Thanks Jeff - I'll keep you posted
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