Problems running Windows Server 2003 for Small Business Server

I have a Dell server that is 6.5 years old and is running Windows Server 2003 for Small Business Server. This is the only server in my office so it acts as a domain controller, file server, houses the free SQL database as well as Quickbooks. It also controls DHCP and DNS. My LAN connects via a NetGear unmanaged 48 port switch. The server has worked perfect for many many years, and I have never had any issues with it. Until now…in the past few weeks we upgraded our 20 client PCs from XP to Windows 7 Pro. Now we are experiencing freeze ups of the clients when they access anything on the server, Excel, Word, Quickbooks or SQL, or the network connection just drops and a reboot is required by the client to get the server connection back. Also now when I join a new client to the domain I get a warning that Win 7 is not compatible with Windows Server 2003 for Small Business Server, but I can click a checkbox that say “do not show this again” and then I click “run anyway” and the join is made. I have attached that screen shot.

 My issue is I am afraid to spend $4-5K on a new server running Windows Server 2012 Std and then find it does not remedy the problem. Any suggestions or comments to steer me in the right direction would be most appreciated. I also did a test and I cannot join the domain at all with a Windows 10 PC.

Thx Experts…BobR
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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
Windows 7 Pro works fine on Server 2003 SBS - I have done this.

we upgraded our 20 client PCs from XP to Windows 7 Pro. Now we are experiencing freeze ups of the clients when they access anything on the server, Excel, Word, QuickBooks or SQL, or the network connection drops

This is not likely a Windows 7 issue, but rather an issue (hardware perhaps or operating system damage) in the old server that is causing this.

Check your network connections and DHCP setup (in the server) and make sure the network is stable and that DCHP is running well. I assume the network is a main router and you may need to upgrade its firmware.

I am afraid to spend $4-5K on a new server running Windows Server 2012 Standard

No reason to be afraid. Server 2012 runs DC functions, file and print, QuickBooks and so on. It works fine with Windows 7, 8.1 and 10. The worst that could happen (I admit to speculating) is that you need to upgrade your network router.
bobrossi56Author Commented:
The router is a SonicWall appliance John, and its only function is to let the clients access the Internet. It really doesn't do anything (to my knowledge) for the LAN, but I could be wrong.
JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
If the router is fine, then upgrading to Server 2012 should not be an issue and probably faster than troubleshooting a 7 year server.
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Agreed with John (mostly).  My only addition would be that it could be an OS issue with Windows 7 since Microsoft made changes to their IP stack.  There are modifications and tweaks that you can make to the clients so that they will run smoother (e.g. - Disabling Auto tuning on the client NIC)

Another issue pop's up (especially if you have applied SP2 to your SBS 2003 server) -

Finally, Microsoft does have a compatibility update for SBS 2003 and Windows 7 -

Ultimately though, your best bet may be the purchase and installation of a new server running 2012 (based on your size, I would recommend Windows Server 2012 Essentials).  Essentials is the closest server OS that Microsoft has to Small Business Server, however, you no longer have Exchange by default.  You have to purchase Exchange separately.  In cases where it is decided to purchase Exchange, people take advantage of the fact that you get 2 Server 2012 VM Licenses with 2012 R2 Standard.  So they Purchase 2012 Essentials and Exchange (don't forget your licenses).  Once they get the hardware, they will reinstall the Server OS as a Standard server and place the Essentials install and Exchange install on two separate VM's.


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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
I connected my own Windows 8.1 machine to a client's SBS 2003 for a bit while we were replacing it. It was no trouble to maintain a stable connection for long periods of time. Same with Windows 7 before that.
Don't get me wrong John, I agree, normally you can just plug in a Windows Vista or higher OS into an SBS 2003 network without issue.  However, the changes in the IP stack did cause issues to pop up.

Kash2nd Line EngineerCommented:
you mentioned a netgear switch.

Is it a gigabit switch or 10/100
also XP machines, are they on 10/100 NICs or 1G.
may be its the switch that is playing up.

All above comments are valid and I agree to them. But I thought just to dig on to this side.
bobrossi56Author Commented:
I tried a few of the suggestions in the links, rebooted the server to no avail. I think everybody hit the nail on the head...GET A NEW SERVER, not worth messing with a server almost 7 years old. Other than price my other fear is I have ZERO idea how to migrate from the old server to the new. I will post that in a new post and award points here.
thx for everyone's help
JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
You need to get some good local consultant(s) to help you migrate from SBS 2003 to Server 2012. You need to first uninstall Exchange if it is running, migrate over and then demote the old server. Could be a very full day or a couple of days to do this.
bobrossi56Author Commented:
Ya, we do not use Exchange, just Excel, Word files, Quickbooks, 4 printers, and the free SQL database for an app we have.
JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
Thanks. But do check for Exchange. We just migrated a client to Server 2012 who never used Exchange. It was still installed and had to be removed first. This is why I suggest a good consultant.
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Windows Server 2003

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