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I'd like to replace a file server we use (actually a couple of them) because it's a 2003 server. I'd prefer to have 2008r2, because I can expand disk volumes on the fly.

My question is, can I take down server 1 (2003) and replace it with server 2 (2008r2) using the exact same computer name and having the exact same shares mapped (if I move the disk with it in a P2V conversion)? Will this break everybody's links the have mapped to the shares? I'd rather not do it if it's going to break links. Is there a better way to do this that I'm not thinking of?

Thanks.

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Without DFS another alternative would be to build up the new server with a new name, get everything mirrored over (files, shares, permissions, etc.) and then decomm the old server and put a CNAME in DNS with the old name pointing to the new server. –  TheCleaner Feb 27 '13 at 18:57
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when using a CNAME alias, make sure to read serverfault.com/questions/23823/… beforehand –  the-wabbit Feb 27 '13 at 20:00
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Just a note: you can expand disk volumes on the fly with certain restrictions - most notably that you can't extend system/boot volumes on the fly and you can't extend partitions containing the page file on the fly. –  Rex Feb 27 '13 at 22:02

2 Answers 2

up vote 8 down vote accepted

Here are the assumptions I am making for the answer I will provide at the end.

Assumptions:

  1. Your Windows 2003 Server is a member of an Active Directory Domain
  2. Your new Windows 2008 R2 Server will be a member of the same Active Directory Domain
  3. You will be doing the "swap" during off hours when you can ensure no one is connecting to the servers
  4. You will assign the exact same IP Address to the new Server
  5. You will recreate all the shares with the exact same share names are before

Answer:

Replacing the old 2003 server with a 2008 R2 server using the same name and then attaching the data disk will work without breaking any mapped drives.

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Hey Harold, I just wanted to say that myself and a couple of the other very active Windows admins/engineers on Server Fault were excited to see you start posting answers here recently. I hope you stick around! –  MDMarra Feb 27 '13 at 18:49
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@MDMarra My plans are to stick around. –  Harold Wong Feb 27 '13 at 20:04

As long as the permissions are the same, you share out the same folders, and you're using identical computer names, this should be fine.

It's worth noting that this is a huge reason why I tell everyone to use DFS Namespaces no matter what size they are. It makes migrations a breeze, even in single-fileserver scenarios. If I were you, I'd consider setting them up as part of this project and slowly migrating to mappings with the namespace instead of the explicit server names.

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Worth mentioning that if you have an Enterprise Edition of Windows running in the domain, the Dfsconsolidate tool from the File Server Migration Toolkit would make migration to Dfs painless as it allows to create alias names of your old file servers pointing to the Dfs root. Other than that, the File Server Migration Wizard from the same toolkit can migrate data and share definitions (including permissions) easily. –  the-wabbit Feb 27 '13 at 19:53

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