I need some advice about migrating to Win Server 2012 R2 Essentials. I've never done something like this before and want to be very sure I'm not doing something stupid or in the wrong order.

Source server: Small Business server 2003 w/ Exchange 2003, DNS, DHCP, 2 NICs, 1st to fixed IP address from ISP, 2nd to internal network switch. The source server has been prepared for migration to the best of my knowledge: functional level raised, health check performed without issues.

Email has already been moved to Office 365, Exchange on source server is not delivering mail anymore.

The steps I plan to follow are these:

  1. Add Win server 2012 to existing domain as replica domain controller (https://technet.microsoft.com/library/dn408633.aspx)
  2. Add DNS and DHCP roles to server 2012, copy DHCP database from 2003 to 2012
  3. Set up print server on 2012
  4. Copy files to 2012
  5. Set up shares on 2012 using group policy
  6. Install necessary 3rd party applications to 2012
  7. Transfer FSMO roles to 2012
  8. Shut down 2003
  9. Connect 1st NIC on 2012 to ISP static IP connection, give it the same IP as on 2003
  10. Connect 2nd NIC to network switch
  11. Authorize DHCP on 2012
  12. Connect client computers

Regarding the last step of connecting client computers, I read in the MS guidelines: "Before you can join a client computer to the new Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials server, you must disconnect it from the Source Server by uninstalling the Windows Server Connector software on the client computer." But I can't find any such software on our Windows 7 clients. How do I disconnect the client computers from SBS 2003 and join them to the new server without losing the local user profiles? Is is enough to use Internet Explorer with the address http://servername/Connect?

Are there any obvious mistakes in my plan and steps?

1 Answer 1


Couple issues I see.

  1. You mention two NICs, but it is not recommended to have a dual-homed domain controller--it should have just one IP address. You should have a firewall as your gateway and if it's really necessary to access your domain controller remotely, use port forwarding.
    1. You need to run domainprep before you can promote the 2012 R2 computer to a domain controller.
    2. Generally it's recommended to demote an old domain controller before disconnecting it from the network. Just turning it off will leave a lot of cruft in AD and unnecessary errors in your event log. Certainly, I would change the IP address before powering it off--you don't want it to accidentally get turned back on and disrupt your domain. Make sure DHCP is disabled on the old SBS for the same reason.
    3. To prep for running a new DHCP server, make sure that under "Advanced | Conflict detection attempts" you enable it to do at least one ping test before issuing a lease. Also, in preparation for the cutover, change the DHCP lease to a short time, say 4 hours, at least as far in advance of the cutover as your current lease duration.
    4. There is no FSMO role in AD 2012 R2. You want to move the PDC emulator role over to the new DC.

For the last question, I've never heard of the Windows Server Connector software--it must be a Windows Server Essentials product. May not have existed with 2003 SBS.

Local user profiles won't be erased just because you add a new domain controller.

  • Quinten, thanks for your input! Regarding FSMO roles on server 2012 R2, I just read a guide on transferring the roles: rebeladmin.com/2014/11/… What about the step of reconnecting client computers to the new DC? Will they automatically connect when AD has replicated and the roles have been transferred to the 2012 DC, or do I have to run servername/Connect on each client computer?
    – jabb
    Apr 12, 2016 at 15:32
  • That sounds like an essentials/sbs specific question I'm just not familiar with and you should review official documentation. There is no /connect url to join a standard Windows domain. But--Windows clients should remain joined to a domain with multiple domain controllers, even if one of the domain controllers is decommissioned.
    – Quinten
    Apr 12, 2016 at 16:08

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