I work at a school district, and we are trying to find a way to downgrade our Servers. We recently upgraded to Windows Server 2012R2, and want to find a way to go back down to Windows Server 2008R2. This is just a backup option incase things don't go well with the new one.

I was told there is some kind of command that you can use to accomplish this, but I am not too sure of what that would be.

Thanks in advance, Viraj

  • 10
    Test first, then upgrade. – EEAA Jul 18 '17 at 23:18
  • One solution is to build the new OS on new/different hardware. The downgrade path is to plug in the old server again. Having worked in schools, the cost is a stumbling block. – Criggie Jul 19 '17 at 8:45
  • 2
    Are you sure you want to do this? – Thomas Jul 19 '17 at 9:42
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    "This is just a backup option ...." NO this is not a backup option. You do have an actual backup right? – vasin1987 Jul 19 '17 at 10:20
  • Thanks everyone. When I try and upgrade the server, it's as simple as clicking a button. Is there anything in the software where I can decrease the version? Or something that can be typed into Microsoft PowerShell? – Viraj Mahajan Jul 19 '17 at 13:52

There is no Windows built-in way to downgrade an installed OS version, except for uninstalling service packs. This is not your case, as you are asking for a significant major version rollback.

You may be able to downgrade functional levels of certain components, particularly after installing new servers with the older version - but definitely no way back for the entire OS short of re-install.

See MDMarra's answer as well for external ways to manage your image. Options include snapshotting VMs, dual booting, native-boot from VHDX, backup...


This is not something that's built in to the OS installation.

Your two options are:

  1. Use snapshotting at the hypervisor or storage layer if this server is a virtual machine. Roll back the snapshot on failure.

  2. Take a full system backup that is capable of being used for a bare-metal restore. If the upgrade fails, restore from this backup.

  • 2
    Yep, these are good options external to the OS install itself. (+1) Using that point of view, you can also native boot the server from .VHD(X) or dual-boot. – Matthew Wetmore Jul 19 '17 at 0:49

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