Replace 2003 server with 2008 R2

Posted on 2012-08-17
Last Modified: 2012-08-21
Have an old and tired Win 2003 server.  This has been our main file server for some time, so it has LOTS of files on it, with lots of permissions on all those files!  

I want to replace it with a new Win 2008 R2 server.  I plan to reinstall the database application we use, so no worries about that.

How do I bring over all the user's files and preserve all those permissions?  I guess to start, how do I bring over all the users and groups in the AD?  This 2003 server is also the "top of the forest" in the AD (or whatever MS calls it, in other words, he's the head honcho of the domain).  Another 2003 server, also in the domain, will remain online. I hope that won't create any issues!

I have done this once before a few years back, I seem to remember RoboCopy or something like that.  But not sure how I got started!

Would appreciate any help.
Question by:dougp23
    LVL 39

    Expert Comment

    by:Krzysztof Pytko
    Try to use Microsoft article to migrate FileServer role from 2003 to 208R2

    should fulfill your requirements

    LVL 9

    Expert Comment

    by:M Roe
    You can use Robocopy.  You can also use Richcopy which I think worked better but I guess that is personal preference.  I did my move on the weekend and left the old server running and just let the admin have rights to all so no one could get access to old server files.  I did the move and then if people needed files I would move them over for them.  It worked pretty well for what I was doing.

    Mike Roe
    LVL 23

    Expert Comment

    by:Stelian Stan
    Are migrating the domain controller or just the file server?

    For file server migration you can use robocopy GUI ( or  richcopy (, This tool works basically the same as robocopy except it has some improvements such as multithreading the copies. It should be faster than robocopy.
    LVL 12

    Accepted Solution

    I assume the idea is to replace this server with another 2008 box with the same name so that the users don't notice any difference. So something like this:-

    1. Create new server and join to the domain.
    2. Copy files across and re-share the files.
    3. Remove old server from active directory
    3. switch off the old server
    4. Rename the new server so it has the same name.
    5. Make new server Active Directory server,

    Note the above order is chosen so you only rename member servers as renaming a domain controller , while possible, needs some extra steps.

    I assume step one is pretty straight forward.

    For step "2" I personally usually use ROBOCOPY with the /E /SEC flags. You need to join the server to the domain to use the /SEC flag. You can do the initial copy some time before the migration and as RobyCopy only copies changed files you can re-run later to copy the changes.

    Provided you kept the same drive letters you can re-create the shares by exporting the :-


    registry hive and re-importing in the new server. This is covered here:-

    The for active directory. Not sure what you mean by "head honcho" as Active Directory was specifically designed to not have the problems you got in Windows/NT based domains where one server was the master server and the others only held copies of the accounts database.

    So  by "head honcho" do you mean this is the ONLY server that holds the Domain Controller role. If so then you need to promote other another server to be a Domain controller and allow the Domain Database to replicate before proceeding further. If your 2003 server is licenced as a Small Business Server (SBS) server you need to take special consideration. You really need to ask in the SBS group and MS has an article on this here:-

    Once you have two Domain Controllers there are a couple things to consider. There some special roles in Active Directory which can only be held by a single server. These are called the Flexible Single Master Operations (FSMO) roles. You should make sure you transfer these to another server before you remove the existing server from AD. There is a Microsoft article on this here:-

    Its pretty straight forward to follow so I won't repeat the info here.

    The other Active Directory role that needs to be considered is the Global Catalogue server role. This can be held by many servers, so simply promote your new/other domain controller being a Global Catalogue server. If you only have one domain ALL servers should be GCs. This is covered here.

    Once you have done that you can then remove the Domain Controller role from the existing server. This is covered here:-

    but basically you just run DCPROMO as a member of Domain Admins or Enterprise Admins. Once this change has replication you can switch off the the old server.

    Rename the new server and re-boot before using Computer Management  "roles" section to make it a Domain Controller.

    Some Caveats

    If all the existing domain controllers are 2003 you will have to update the schema before adding a 2008R2 Domain Controller. See:-

    If the server you are moving has additional roles such as DHCP and DNS you need to make additional plans for transferring these roles.

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