migrate file shares, data and permissions from server 2003 to 2008

Posted on 2010-08-18
Last Modified: 2012-07-13

I am changing from server 2003 to server 2008 R2 and have added the new server to the domain, transferred the FSMO roles and I am now looking at ways to transfer the shares and the data over whilst retaining the permissions.

I would like to keep the structure of the shares the same where possible. These are spread across different partitions on the original server due to different quota requirements. Access to shares is also controlled by groups that users are assigned to and drive mappings occur for different users at different levels of the folder structure. Basically it has taken quite a while to get things set up this way and I don't want to have to set these up again manually.

I have had a quick look at the microsoft file server migration tool kit, but I am not sure it will do exactly what I want. Other options I am considering are:
Robocopy or maybe Robocopy GUI

I found info on using a combination of xcopy and robocopy at 

There is another page regarding robocopy at but it has a different command listed than some other articles I have read.

There is another article at which looks promising, but the author has slightly different aims to mine.

I am getting swamped with different options at the minute, does anyone have any advice on the best tool or combination of tools to achieve this kind of data transfer while minimising any manual processes after the copy?
Question by:QEMS
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Accepted Solution

ploftin earned 500 total points
ID: 33465821
You can do it for free with Windows Backup.  Create a backup using Windows Backup (ntbackup.exe in 2003) and restore it to the new server.  All NTFS permissions will remain in-tact.  You do have to manually create the partition structure and manually share the folder (and set share permissions), but all the security around each folder, subfolder and files will remain as is on the 2003 server.

Author Comment

ID: 33466270
Do you think that is the way with the least manual interaction? Is there no way to copy across the shares without having to manually set them on the new server afterwards?

Assisted Solution

ploftin earned 500 total points
ID: 33468753
You could also try this:

Windows stores all share information in the registry. This allows you to export the information from one machine and import it into another.  To access the share information, open the Registry Editor by going to Start > Run, type regedt32.exe, and clicking OK. Then, navigate to the following key:


This registry key lists all shares. To move a share from one server to another, follow these steps:

1. In the Registry Editor, go to Registry > Export Registry File.
2. Save the settings in a .reg file by selecting a location and clicking Save.
3. Close the Registry Editor.
4. Copy the .reg file to the destination computer.
5. Right-click the file and select Merge.

In order for the shares to show up, you'll need to 1) restart the machine or 2) stop and start the server service (enter Net Stop Server and then Net Start Server at the command prompt) and other services that require server service.

Be aware that this procedure will migrate ALL of the shares from the source machine. In addition, you must store the folders on the same drive as before. For example, if you copied the "C:\Shared Folder" share from one machine, you must copy the folder to the same location (C:\Shared Folder) on the destination machine.

Note: Editing the registry is risky, so be sure you have a verified backup before making any changes.
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Author Comment

ID: 33473077
Thanks very much, I'll give that a try shortly now that I have a full backup that ran overnight.

Expert Comment

ID: 33473197

you can use two applications that work fine:

1) robocopy with GUI
2) Secure Copy its not cheap but the best i ever used so far:

Author Comment

ID: 33509667
Sorry for the delayed response but I have got this one sorted now. I wanted to make sure everything was working as expected before I closed the question off.

pmaribeiro thanks for your response but I was already underway with ploftin's suggestion and unfortunately we don't have the budget (or the regular need) for a solution such as Secure Copy.

ploftin thanks very much for your help, that worked great.

For anyone else reading this in future, I restored the data from the 2003 server to the new server so all the data was moved across without having to install ntbackup on the 2008 server.

I exported the data from the registry without issue and checked the MS kb article about it at

I edited the registry fragment that was exported, removing any shares that I didn't want to move across, along with the associated security sub key entries.
I took a backup of the same section of the registry on the new server in case anything went wrong, but everything worked fine.

The MS kb article states "Caution This step overrides the shares that already exist on the Windows computer with the share names and permissions that exist in the file you are restoring", however the import of the reg data doesn't interfere with any shares that are named differently to the ones you are importing.

Expert Comment

ID: 33512466
Good work, and good follow up QEMS. I'm glad it worked well for you.

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