Trying to be as succinct as possible, I'm in a situation with:

  • Windows Server 2008 Standard FE x64 Service Pack 2
  • with Exchange Server 2007 (fairly sure together they are branded as "Windows Small Business Server 2008").

A snapshot and VM were created from the server. The original server continued to run, hence new mail in Exchange, new/changed files, and backups continued. Sometime later, the VM image was configured on ESXi 5.1 and the original server eventually shutdown after a final backup.

(Aside, a new license was purchased for the VM server, so it and the original server have different product keys. There are therefore two SBS licenses available.)

I've inherited the need to use the final backup from the original server to merge the email and file differences to the VM server.

I am unfamiliar with the details of Windows Backup ; questions:

  • Will the VM server's restore recognize the final backup in the set given that the machines have a common heritage?

  • Will the VM server need to re-index the backup catalog?

The file differences are straightforward to handle. However, Exchange and mail seem challenging.

If I restore Exchange completely, Microsoft documentation suggests I can convert/export from Exchange by using a 32-bit client running Exchange Management Tools, but the details are complex enough that I'm suspicious it's unlikely to work. So,

  • Can I extract only Exchange's data files, convert them to PST, and attach them to Outlook and copy the required/missing ("delta") email?

Rather than using the current VM server for the restore, I am considering installing a temporary second VM to handle the restore. I would probably disable the network adapter to avoid name collisions, etc.

  • Will a restore of SBS / Exchange work without the network?

This is not my area of expertise, so all comments and recommendations are much appreciated.


I would discard the old snapshot you took. Does the old SBS server still exist and is simply powered down? Your best option, especially if you have another SBS 2008 license, and the room to do so, is to do a migration (SBS 2008 > SBS 2008). The steps would be the same as installing a new physical server.


You will suffer far less headaches doing a proper migration, rather than trying to restore newer data to an older snapshot of the system. Also, depending on the age of the snapshot, AD machine passwords may have expired and computers may not be able to authenticate. This is the option I would go with.

Another option, and I don't know if this is directly supported, but you could do a P2V. One thing to be cautious of is networking after the fact. You will now have a virtual adapter and its IP settings will not be the same, and SBS will start to wobble quickly with improperly configured DNS. If you go this route, do it as an offline P2V. This one would be easy to test with a single domain computer in an isolated VM environment, and if it works, you could move forward.

Also, doing a P2V on a domain controller isn't officially supported by Microsoft, but Ive done it dozens of times with no issue.

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  • Thanks @DanBig. A good point; I will inquire about the original server, though I suspect it no longer exists. AFAIK, the original to VM was a P2V. (I understand "P2V" to mean "physical to virtual"..?) – Richard Michael Oct 30 '13 at 22:38
  • Yes, P2V is Physical to Virtual. – DanBig Oct 31 '13 at 12:41
  • Thanks @DanBig. Apparently the original server is inaccessible, and perhaps more inconvenient, the original license has gone with it. I'll temporarily install a new SBS 2008 VM with the current product key but without network (to isolate it), then use it to extract the backup and start digging through data. Let the headaches begin! – Richard Michael Oct 31 '13 at 23:35

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