I need to virtualize a SBS 2003 server in my work environment. I need some tips on what people think is the best way to proceed.

Background: The SBS 2003 server is the primary DC for the domain and also hosts FTP, RRAS(VPN), DNS, and file shares. Exchange is NOT used, neither is SQL server. DHCP is done via a firewall appliance.

I have added a Server 2003 VM to the domain and promoted it to the DC role. AD/DNS is replicating here correctly. This was mainly done to provide fault-tolerance to the domain, I was not intending to make this VM the primary DC.

I've already asked about buying upgraded licensing for Server 2008/2012 but was refused due to cost.

Options: I see (at least) two routes I could take to complete this. From what I've read option 2 is the "preferred" method, but there's a few steps where I'm not clear on what to expect.

Option 1.) P2V the primary DC

  • Power off primary DC
  • Power off secondary DC (to prevent USN rollback in case P2V has issue)
  • P2V (cold clone) primary DC
  • Boot new PDC VM
    • Allow new hardware to detect
    • Remove old NIC hardware from device manager
    • Assign old IPs to new virtual NICs
  • Reboot PDC VM, confirm connectivity and no major issues
  • Power on secondary DC, confirm replication

Option 2.) Create new VM, transfer roles, remove original DC from domain

  • Create new VM, install SBS 2003
    • Do I need the original SBS install discs for this? MS migration doc mentions this.
  • Add VM to domain, promote to DC role
    • Does this start 7 day timer where two SBS servers can be in same domain?
  • Set up RRAS on new VM
  • Set up IIS/FTP on new VM
  • Move file shares to new VM
  • Transfer FSMO roles to new VM DC
  • dcpromo original primary DC out of domain
  • If you do a clean install, you will need the SBS 2003 install media for sure. If it is missing and you have access to TechNet, you can grab a copy from thee for the reinstall. If it was me, I would go with option 1 as it is much less work and likely will work fine once you fix the network adapter setups.
    – MikeAWood
    Commented Nov 6, 2013 at 3:20

1 Answer 1


I personally don't see a problem with doing a cold P2V of the SBS server. It's certainly going to be simpler in the long run as you won't have to install and configure RRAS, IIS, Shared folders, etc.

  • Do you know offhand if SBS 2003 will ask for reactivation following a P2V?
    – jlehtinen
    Commented Nov 6, 2013 at 14:51
  • Seeing that at it's core it's Windows Server 2003 my guess is that it will.
    – joeqwerty
    Commented Nov 6, 2013 at 14:52
  • After some research, it looks like if it's an OEM license, re-activation will fail after a P2V (can't reactivate an OEM license on new hardware). I have no documentation/records for the licensing on this server. Do you have any idea how I can confirm if it's an OEM SBS 2003 license?
    – jlehtinen
    Commented Nov 6, 2013 at 15:52
  • Answered my own question: support.microsoft.com/kb/889713
    – jlehtinen
    Commented Nov 6, 2013 at 16:18

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