Problems with virtual servers running Windows Server 2008 R2 licence activation after migrating to new hardware

I have recently migrated Windows Server 2008 R2 virtual servers running in a VM environment onto new hardware. i.e. new esxi host servers and new physical datastore. Since then I have been receiving messages on my server saying that Windows is not activated. There does not seem to be any way of activating the operating system now.
Who is Participating?

[Product update] Infrastructure Analysis Tool is now available with Business Accounts.Learn More

I wear a lot of hats...

"The solutions and answers provided on Experts Exchange have been extremely helpful to me over the last few years. I wear a lot of hats - Developer, Database Administrator, Help Desk, etc., so I know a lot of things but not a lot about one thing. Experts Exchange gives me answers from people who do know a lot about one thing, in a easy to use platform." -Todd S.


The trick is that you need to make sure that the virtual hardware does not change when you move the virtual machine.

The most common mistake that people make when moving a virtual machine by hand (e.g. not using SCVMM or Hyper-V Clustering etc.) is that they just copy the virtual hard disks (.VHD files) and create a new virtual machine that uses these virtual hard disks.

This new virtual machine will have new hardware identifiers for all the virtual hardware it contains – so even if you setup the virtual machine with the same settings, Windows will ask to be reactivated.

The best way to avoid this is to export the virtual machine on the source , and then import it on the target server.  This will ensure that all the virtual hardware has the same identifying information, and you will not need to reactivate Windows after moving the virtual machine.


Experts Exchange Solution brought to you by

Your issues matter to us.

Facing a tech roadblock? Get the help and guidance you need from experienced professionals who care. Ask your question anytime, anywhere, with no hassle.

Start your 7-day free trial
rabpwh1000Author Commented:
Thanks for the response dfke. Unfortunately it looks like I have made the mistake you have referred to in your post.  Is there a way of reactivating windows once the virtual machines have new hardware identifiers?  I keep getting a message reactivation failed or unable to reactivate windows.
R@f@r P@NC3RVirtualization SpecialistCommented:
Good Morning,

But can you authenticate yourself in the operating system? If you authenticate, keep saying that Windows needs to be activated?

Your licenses are valid to date ?, first validate the issue of your licenses ?.

You can also export a VM to OVA or OVF template and take it to your previous hardware to validate that if the message to activate the license appears or not.

I remain attentive to your comments.

10 Tips to Protect Your Business from Ransomware

Did you know that ransomware is the most widespread, destructive malware in the world today? It accounts for 39% of all security breaches, with ransomware gangsters projected to make $11.5B in profits from online extortion by 2019.

R@f@r P@NC3RVirtualization SpecialistCommented:
Execute a sysprep in the operating system, to create a new identifier of the VM and select the option Generalize.
R@f@r P@NC3RVirtualization SpecialistCommented:
I indicate the route:

C: \ Windows \ System32 \ sysprep

Run the sysprep as administrator
Leave the option that appears by default
Enable the Generalize
And accept, after generating the new identifier, the server restarts and validates if you still see the message to activate the license.

Slaudos ...

If you are unable to re-export then I think there is little chance. If I'm not mistaken Microsoft does not legally allow a P2V to a different server, so your best bet is to get rid of the target server, acquire another server license, and install it from scratch. Then migrate over what you have from the source server to the target server.

R@f@r P@NC3RVirtualization SpecialistCommented:

Could you perform the aforementioned tests?

did you execute the sysprep?

rabpwh1000Author Commented:
Thanks everybody for your help.  I eventually managed to speak to the engineer who did the migration and he said all vm's were created from new and all that needed to be done was open up the server manager on each local machine and re-enter the MAK key manually. This seems to have worked for me.  The expert comments have been useful to me and I am now more aware of some the pitfalls during the migration process if I have to do this again.
It's more than this solution.Get answers and train to solve all your tech problems - anytime, anywhere.Try it for free Edge Out The Competitionfor your dream job with proven skills and certifications.Get started today Stand Outas the employee with proven skills.Start learning today for free Move Your Career Forwardwith certification training in the latest technologies.Start your trial today

From novice to tech pro — start learning today.