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MIgrating SBS 2011 to new hardware, can I just backup and unbackup?

My customer wants to migrate his existing Windows SBS 2011 with Exchange 2013 to better hardware so that it's more responsive. It is currently a Xeon system with 32 Gigs of ram. I want to move it to another Xeon based system, but with an SSD system and data drives. Thinking of having a 500Gig SSD as the System drive and two 960GB SSD drives (mirrored) as the data drives. There will also be a 6TB drive for backups.

Customer originally wanted to upgrade to new OS as well, but I think spending on two server 2012 R2 Essential licences, plus RDS CALs for 10 remote users, is a waste of money since SBS 2011 will still be supported for along time.

My question is, can I just create a system backup of SBS 2011 and Exchange 2013, and then restore to the new hardware? Should I try to use a cloning program like Acronis instead?

Do I need to worry about hardware compatibility issues? SBS 2011 is from 4 years ago and the hardware much newer.
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Distinguished Expert 2019

You should be able to just do a baremetal backup and restore. Take a look at the newer PCI Express SSD's if you want blazing performance. (much faster than using the outdated SATA-6G interface
Technology and Business Process Advisor
Most Valuable Expert 2013
Keep in mind you cannot do this if the SBS license was included with the server (OEM edition) - Is there an OEM SBS sticker on the server?  Those licenses cannot be moved to newer hardware (or any other hardware).

Also, why are you restoring to bare metal?  If this was setup virtually in the first place, moving it would be simple.  (Don't know virtualization - you should - it's not new - it's 2015 and virtualization has been included with Windows Server and in the free Hyper-V Server since 2008.  And VMWare long before that.  Unless you have a really good reason, you should not be installing (restoring) directly to hardware these days.  The advantages of virtualization far outweigh the drawbacks for most people!

(You have not taken the time to fill out your profile so I can only judge your knowledge and skill level by the question you have asked above).
Also, you might want to partner with someone who knows these products instead of trying to do something for a client where you are not actually familiar with them.  Your statement "but I think spending on two server 2012 R2 Essential licences, plus RDS CALs for 10 remote users," Indicates to me you are not familiar with this product.  You cannot have two essentials servers on the same network as an Essentials server REQUIRES that it is the FSMO master DC and you cannot have multiple FSMO Masters in the domain. Further, you cannot install the RDS roles on Essentials servers either.


Thank you David. I am hoping that moving from HD to SSD will be smooth. Was on my home machine, I used Acronis. But this is a bit different. I checked out that PCI SSDs, wow crazy speed, but price is also. :) Have you dont this by chance?

I didn't check for a sticker actually, but since it was not a name brand server, I assume it will not be an OEM license. If not then there is incentive to move to Server 2012 R2.

I am taking over this system because he was not get any help from his current IT persons, so I have to take the system as is and improve it over time. I not a full-time admin, they are just hiring me to do a specific task, so I haven't had a chance to do much looking around on the system.

I am quite familiar with virtualization, I had to setup a server 2012, and then use hyper-v to run another instance of server 2012 to be able to synch a user's AD/Exchange with Azure. I am not sure what the advantage is. How much faster would the restore process?

I am not new to supporting various flavours of Windows Server over the years, but things do keep changing and their licensing structure is not exactly easy to understand. I tried to call Microsoft sales and ask a few questions about the migration path and what I would need but the woman was pretty unhelpful and gave me the impression that if I want to ask any question I have to pay for support and ask them. Even before I buy anything?

She told me essenstials is the closest version to SBS, but I know he will need two licenses because client has Exchange 2013 and I can't run Exchange on the same server that will be the DC. So as I have been reading I will have to run another virtual Server 2012 R2 and run Exchange on that. Unless I can turn that SBS into an image somehow and then run that with Exchange into a the virtual server. That would make more sense in terms of costs. I also told the MS person that the client has 7 users to access stuff remotely, and she said I would need to buy RDS CALs. I obviosly got pretty crappy help there.
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process Advisor
Most Valuable Expert 2013

If you want to move to 2012/Exchange 2013, then forget about buying an essentials license.

Buy a SINGLE Server 2012 R2 standard license and then you can LEGALLY install TWO COPIES in VMs on the same hardware (AND Legally install it on the hardware provided the hardware install only runs the Hyper-V role).  Then you can use downgrade rights (MUST have a Volume License to do this easily) to install 2012 R2 Essentials on one VM OR install Server 2012 R2 in a VM and then add the Essentials role into a VM.  Your second copy is then used with Exchange 2013.

NOTE: you MUST buy Windows and Exchange CALs if you use 2012/2013.
My take on things,get a free 60 day eval of Symantec System Recovery 2013 r2 from Symantec.

Install it and backup the old system.
Then restore to the new system using their recovery disk.
It does bare metal plus it gives you the option to restore to different hardware.

Now for the gotcha's.
You cannot use a USB 6 TB drive to backup using the windows 2011 built in backup.
It will not work with a drive larger than 2.2 TB because of the advanced format sectoring found in most newer drives larger than 2.2 TB, plus it uses a .vhd file which cannot be larger than 2.2 TB.

They fixed it in server 2012,but you will need a 3rd party to back things up if you are using USB drives .
You can use a NAS if you want with the built in backup,just not direct attached storage using certain drive sizes.