move live SBS2003, echange and active directory server to another machine with clean install

I want to move my SBS 2003 server running a few web sites (IIS), active directory, and my exchange server to another more stable machine. The problem is that the main HD has bad sectors and crashes alot.

How can i reinstall a clean SBS 2003 server and move my exchange and active direcory with the smallest downtime?

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Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
the most recommended, reliable way recommended by most people who know SBS best is the swing migration.  It's not free, but fairly cheap.
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
Keep in mind, if SBS came with the original server, you will almost certainly need a new license since versions of Windows that come with computers (including servers) are "OEM" and legally locked to the hardware they are sold with.

mdalionheartAuthor Commented:
Im looking for a free way of doing it.

Its a license i purchased, not OEM.
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You can do the swing method for free.  Download Microsoft Virtual Machine from and use it for the swing.  This is a great approach to your problem.  Puts in the additional VM step, but it simply works!  And if you plan / implement well you can actually do the Swing method with 0 downtime (adds some complexity to the process with data synchronization and all, so don't go here unless you are a serious 24x7 shop)

You can also set up the new SBS server and do a straight restore to it from your existing live server.  The key element here is to NEVER put both servers onto the same network at the same time (since you will be giving them both the same name and will be restoring the same AD).  I should note that you can run into hardware compatibility issues with this method when trying to do the AD restore.
Ummmm....out of curiosity....

Why are you replacing the whole server instead of just putting in a new hard drive?  If you drop a new hard drive in, you can set up a software mirror.  Once the mirror is done syncronizing, you pull out the old hard drive.  Presto -- stable server.
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
Oh, sorry - I thought you were looking for the way "with the smallest downtime?" - I didn't realize that multiple hours of your time was worth less than the $200 or so asked for.

I didn't say there weren't other ways, but the toolset and support offered is usually enough to convince people to spend the small amount of money.

A software mirror requires that you convert the disks to dynamic which while it SHOULD be safe, HAS caused occasional problems for people.  Further, mirroring requires BOTH disks to be error free (if it's mirroring sector by sector it will likely start choking when it hits a bad one).  Finally, using Dynamic disks will then limit the ability to recover data off the drive in the event of a failure as well as limit the ability of various tools from functioning correctly, such as partition management tools.

You are correct about the dynamic conversion.  I should have noted that (I convert my disks at install).  If the conversion blows things up, the system will be down for as long as it takes to do a restore.

Also worth note is proper administrative practices, which I am assuming:

1)  Back up the server before doing anything to it
2)  Test the backup to be sure it is good
3)  Make changes when unexpected downtime is acceptable

Mirroring actually does not require both disks to be error free.  I know this because I have done exactly what I suggested for customers in the same situation.  Yes, the new hard drive must be error free -- but the mirror will establish successfully even if the existing mirror has errors (provided the server itself is fully functional while the mirror is created, and provided the HD is not so severly damanged that the read process fails while establishing the mirror).

Not sure what you mean by dynamic disks limiting ability to recover data, and various tools not working?  Never had problems with this.
Leew has a good point about the value of your time.  You are not free (well, that is unless you are salary like almost all of us IT folks, and are doing this conversion in the wee hours of the night after you already worked the 40+ hours you actually get paid for!).

On the other side, going through the conversion the "free" way is a great learning experience.  Hands-on training that will stick with you for years to come!
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
I'll defer to you on the hard disk mirroring when the drive is bad - I've never tried it because I don't use software mirroring often and I know a bad sector in a hardware mirror can cause havoc.

Are you saying you have used partition imaging tools (other than diskpart) to repartition dynamic disks?  And you've successfully booted to a linux boot disk and viewed the contents of a dynamic disk in the case of a system failure.  I've never tried using a BartPE disk with dynamic disks since I don't use dynamic disks regularly, but I suspect even that could have issues.
I used the swing migration procedure mentioned by leew to migrate a SBS server to a new machine. I actually found it very educational about the inner workings of Active Directory and its synchronization functions as well as all the time it saved. It is a moderate investment to purchase the inistructions, but it gives you a LOT of good information to walk you through the process, as well as access to help if you wind up in trouble. Its seriously worth considering, especially if you have more than a handful of workstations, as the workstations literally never realize that the server changed. Of course, this process assumes that the Active Directory is reasonably well configured to begin with. If your AD has problems, or if you would like to change it, then this would be the time to do those tasks with a fresh install of SBS.
I've had some luck ghosting servers with Norton Ghost, if you are resourceful there are many free ones on the net, the DOS version works best.  Make a ghost image onto a USB HD or pop another internal in the server for the time and ghost it directly.  Then pop the HD into the new machine or just swap it in the same machine if the rest of the hardware is still ok.

Best of all this method does not directly interfere with the existing HD so if the image doesn't work you still have the same HD untouched ready to try again or try another method.
mdalionheartAuthor Commented:
All of your comments are great.

The server is very old and buggy. I can turn it on 5 times in a row with different things failing each time. Network, HD not showing, or just services not starting.

This is why i want to do a clean install. I also think the motherboard is bad and not only the HD. I tried ghosting an image of the main disk and it moved the bad sectors to the new HD. Even doing a full HD scan doesnt succeed.

I already invested in getting another server and do not have the budget to spend 200$ on instructions to migrate an exchange and active directory. Of course my time is worth the money but i wish to do it manually to understand better the migration.

Does anyone have step by step instructions to transfer an exchange to another server? And the same thing for an active directory. I do have already more than 15 workstations that belong to the domain and do not wish for manual domain move.

leew -- I do not use disk partitioning tools on servers.  Resizing the system partition is specifically not supported, even though third party apps are available to do this task.  I just don't take those kind of chances with production servers (understand that reparitioning usually works, but there are times when the system destabalizes).  Agree with you about software mirroring -- any good engineer sticks to hardware mirroring because software mirroring in Windows is not production ready.  Breaks way too often.  But I have found some nifty uses for it!

I have never used a linux boot disk to recover data from servers (workstations yes).  I use other methods to deal with servers.

(sorry everyone -- this is probably a bit off-topic).
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
How about to reset a server's lost local admin password?  Most of the tools for this are linux based.  

And frankly, I don't like repartitioning on servers either - I have a document on how to appropriately organize disk usage (well, more how to move things off the C: drive) rather than repartition.  BUT, the point is, Dynamic disks make things more difficult (not necessarily impossible) in MOST cases and so I don't recommend them.

Fantastic!  The SWING method really is a great way to do what you are after.

To cap this off for other people who may come across this post in the future, here are the basic elements of the SWING method.  I'm not putting detail instructions, but any savvy administrator can do the process with these points (note that I never purchased the SWING instructions, nor have I ever seen the instructions that somebody else purchased -- so am not passing along any copyrighted information here.)  I did write very detailed instructions for our consulting company, but wouldn't be very fair to publish that here -- sorry.

1)  Set up a new temporaray server, named however you want (I always use a virtual server to minimize hardware requirements, but any old lab server will do).
2)  Hook this temp server up to the network and dcpromo to an AD controller for the domain.
3)  Let the temp server sync up.
4)  Disconnect the temp server from the netwok.  Do NOT hook this system back up the the network after this point.
5)  Seize FSMO roles on the temp server.
6)  Set up the new server that will become the production server.  Name this exactly the same as the server to be replaced, and give it the same IP address.  Obviously do not attach this system to your live network until you are ready to deploy.
7)  Connect the new server to a lab network along with the temporary server.
8)  dcpromo to make this new server an AD controller, and transfer all FSMO roles to it.
9)  dcpromo the temp server to demote it.  You are done with the temp server now.
10)  Backup the old server and restore to the new server (or transfer data / apps as you see fit).
11)  Test to be sure all is working on the new server.
12)  If the old server was live during testing, do a final data transfer to the new server.
13)  Turn off the old server, attach the new server to the network, and power up the new server.

There are a bunch of varieties that can be applied.  The basic trick to use an intermediate server to move a copy of AD from one server to another identically named server.  Kudos to the creative engineer who had this light bulb idea!

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leew -- Dynamic disks make it more difficult to do things that are not supported (like repartitioning system drives).  So I should probably qualify.  I have never had a problem with dynamic disks doing normal server administrative or disaster recovery tasks that are supported.  I will play around with lab systems, but my personal rule on production servers is "no experimentation".

This rule has served me well.  Three times in my career I have replaced the IT guy / manager who couldn't seem to keep the servers stable.  All three times the servers were a mess because the previous guy was not following prooven best practices.  I have a lot of other stories about stuff I've seen people do to servers that totally crapped the system out...way too much to write here.  Bottom line for me is do it the way I know it works, and the way that Microsoft designed it to work.  Might not always be the easiest way, but generally is the most reliable.

Funny though, I'm talking about this in relation to the SWING method.  Anybody can viably point out that the SWING is probably not a "supported" method........maybe I do violate that rule at times ;-)  But then, I tested the method from a theorietical and a practical standpoint before I ever used it!

mdalionheartAuthor Commented:
ok, i think for the active directory, i have my information. Now, how do i transfer the exchange database to the temp server?
You don't need to.  Exchange database goes directly from the old live server to the new server you are building.  The only thing that you use the temp server for is as an AD container (and, if you want to, as a repository to hold data for transfer).

Simple thing for Exchange is back up the data stores to tape or a file.  You should then be able to restore to your new server.
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