Three months ago for several reasons I had to quickly setup a regular desktop PC with Windows 2008 R2 as our Primary Active Directory server. I have certificate server on it, as well as running DNS and DHCP, and we also share files off of that server as well. At the same time we moved our email from godaddy to exchange 2007 which was put on that box as well. (And the pc barely gets by)

We now have new server grade hardware, is there any way to take what is on that PC and move it in total to the new server hardware so that I can in effect unplug the old pc from the network and plug the new pc into the network and everything works. (I tried windows backup, but when I restored to the new machine it gave me a blue screen of death, I think because of 1 core to 4 core change)

If there is no way to move it in total, what is the best way to do this switch?

  • What is the error in the blue screen? – Zoredache Aug 27 '10 at 15:57
  • technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/ee656415.aspx Disk2vhd is a free utility converts your Physical (Online) Machine into a VHD file, which can be used as a Virtual Machine in hyper-v. Backup Exec System recovery 2010 is capable off converting the backup sets to Virtual Machines for VMWare, XEN, Hyper-V. Very reliable backup software for Dis similar recovery. – rihatum Aug 27 '10 at 15:59
  • It flashes so fast I could never catch what the blue screen said. – Solmead Aug 27 '10 at 16:02
  • 2
    Disk2vhd should NOT be used on a DC unless you know exactly what you're doing – Jason Berg Aug 27 '10 at 16:12

In my opinion, your best bet here is not to try and copy the old server wholesale onto your old server, particularly using any sort of cloning or backup, as you are very likely to run into errors with disk controllers being incompatible, or changing the number or processors etc.

Instead, what I would do is to look at moving services. So firstly I would make the new machine a domain controller, replicate AD over to it and then move the FSMO roles to the new server. When that's working, look at Exchange.

It's not advisable to run Exchange on a domain controller, but I understand in some case you have to. So I would install Exchange into my existing Exchange org, make sure it's up and working, then move the mailboxes from the old server.

I'd then continue the process, moving DNS, DHCP, certificate services etc to the new box. You can then leave both boxes up and running for a while if you wish, then when you are happy you can remove exchange from the old box, demote it to a member server, then decommission it if you wish.

Doing it this way means you can move each service bit by bit, and you can go back to your original setup if something goes wrong, rather than a big bang move.

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  • Agreeing with this. Attempting any kind of clever migration, restore or HW swap-outs on a Domain Controller usually invites lots of pain. A parallel build and migration of roles is a good choice. – Chris Thorpe Aug 28 '10 at 1:38
  • Is there any way to move it this way and get the new server to have the name of the old PC, and rename the old PC? – Solmead Aug 28 '10 at 22:29
  • @solmead Well not so much having the same name, as renaming a dc and an exchange server is asking for problems, but you can always alter your dns to have the old name point to the new server – Sam Cogan Aug 29 '10 at 10:27

Install Windows Server Backup Role Backup the Whole server to a External USB Hard disk Restore it to the New server



When you are setting up the job in Windows Server Backup, select VSS FULL Baremetal recovery (So it will include the hidden windows boot partition too)


You can use Symantec Backup Exec system recovery 60day trial (full functional) Backup the whole box (online) with it restore it to the new hardware (BESR 2010 is known for recovery on dis similar hardware)

Windows server backup should be enough for now but just in case you can use BESR 2010 too. http://www.symantec.com/business/backup-exec-system-recovery-server-edition

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Yes you can. Your best bet is to use one of the bare metal backup and recovery software titles. Make sure they are designed for use with Windows Server and Active Directory in particular. You need to be careful with AD in order to avoid a USN rollback situation. There's also some funky stuff that goes on with the drive signature on domain controllers. Symantec's BackupExec System Recovery does a good job at preserving the drive signature for you as well as restoring AD in a way that does not cause a USN rollback. You can also do an offline backup with Symantec, which is the preferred method of moving a domain controller.

If you're not going to use one of the costly software options, try to take a backup while the server is off. If you can't do that, follow these instructions in order to prevent a USN rollback.

Also, be mindful of the disk signatures. You can query the current signature by doing this:

select disk 0
uniqueid disk <----Jot the result of this step down somewhere

After you restore the server, boot first to Active Directory Restore mode. Then set the disk signature like this:


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If nothing else works you could put Vmware ESXi on the new server and use Vmware conerter to do a P2V conversion.

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StorageCraft ShadowProtect Server Edition will allow you to take a full disk image (or multiple images if you have a number of drives in the machine) to a number of different media (usb attached drives, network drives etc). You can then restore these images to your new hardware using ShadowProtect's Hardware Independent Restore, all you need to do is give it the storage controller drivers during restore (and any other drivers you deem necessary).

This should give you enough to get into the machine on the new hardware, install the remaining drivers for the new hardware and get everything back up and running.

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