I am planning a Windows SBS 2003 R2 migration next week for a customer, and have read through the Microsoft documentation "Migrating to Windows Small Business Server 2008 from Windows Small Business Server 2003".

I understand the process and am confident I have all my ducks in a row for the migration, including a checklist and a project plan.

However, I would like to retain the old server as a second domain controller, with file and print services, but would like to upgrade it to Windows Server 2008 Standard after I've demoted it using dcpromo. In other words, I don't really want to reinstall Windows on that box if I can upgrade it instead.

Is this possible? Is it ill-advised? Should I simply take the pain and reconfigure the users to use the new server with an entry in the hosts file pointing to the new box a DNS alias, and then set up the second box after the fact just as a backup DC?

1 Answer 1


Upgrading the machine is ill-advised. Small Business Server setup installs the "SBCore" service, which monitors the machine for license compliance. There is no Microsoft-"supported" method for removing this service. It's certainly "possible" but if it breaks you'll be on your own.

As an aside: What are you talking about re: a hosts file? Don't use hosts files-- it's 2010. Use a DNS alias to accomplish whatever you're trying to do. If you're trying to end up with users accessing shares on the "new box" via the name of the "old box" have a look at How to Configure Windows Machine to Allow File Sharing with DNS Alias for what you need to do to accomplish this with a DNS alias.

You should use the old machine as a replica domain controller if you're licensed for it. Having a redundant DC (also configured as a Global Catalog server) / DNS server is a good thing and makes disaster recovery, in the future, much easier.

  • Thanks for the answer, Evan. I appreciate especially the hint on DNS aliasing. As for redundant DC, the whole reason for wanting the second server is because the old SBS box recently perished and had to be rebuilt without backups, which is why our company inherited the customer.
    – user3914
    Dec 8, 2010 at 23:09
  • Just wanted to follow up. The migration went smoothly (well, as smoothly as can be expected) and I did format the second box completely as suggested. Thanks again for your answer.
    – user3914
    Jan 28, 2011 at 1:01

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