Free Migration Tools to Windows 2008 R2

Tools Included with Windows 2008 R2 “In the Box”

In the past, any time a new Windows operating system came out you had to manually migrate server configuration settings and data, or go out and buy a 3rd party tool to assist with the migration or do an inplace upgrade and bring along a lot of operating system "baggage" with your migration just to preserve your application configuration.  With Windows 2008 R2, Microsoft shipped the product with a series of free migration tools PLUS they setup a Web URL where you can download new migration best practice guides and conversion tools (see

And these aren’t the typical Microsoft guides that are 300 pages of junk, the guides are very step by step prescriptive and where applicable, there are utilities they provide for free that is part of the migration process.  So why is Microsoft providing “free tools” and “free guidance” on how to migrate to Windows 2008 R2?  The big reason is that Windows 2008 R2 is a 64-bit ONLY operating system.  For organizations that have been running 32-bit Windows for years and frequently just did an inplace upgrade from older to new versions of the operating system, Windows 2008 R2, being 64-bit does NOT provide an inplace migration path from 32-bit anything to Windows 2008 R2.  Thus, you MUST do a server to server migration from Windows 2003 32-bit to Windows 2008 R2 64-bit.   Afraid this might be a barrier to migrations, Microsoft worked really hard to come up with a series of migration tools.

In 2-years of early adopter experience working with Windows 2008 R2 and the past many months since Windows 2008 R2 RTM’d, we’ve found that Microsoft got lucky with the timing release of Windows 2008 R2.  The marketplace has not only (for the most part) accepted and have adopted 64-bit as the standard server platform in datacenters, but organizations are migrating all physical servers to virtual servers as part of the process.  So very few organizations are even considering taking a 5-yr old or 8-yr old 32-bit PHYSICAL Windows 2003 server and do an inplace upgrade, instead, organizations are building out new Windows servers as guest sessions of virtual servers (either Hyper-V or VMware).  So the whole barrier to migration seems to be a non-issue for organizations.

Back to the migration tools…  So Microsoft is providing a series of GREAT migration tools from Windows 2003 and Windows 2008 to Windows 2008 R2, and not for just Active Director migrations but for:

  • File Server Migration: including migrating Windows 2003 / 2008 files, file permissions (access control lists (ACLS)), directory structure, etc to Windows 2008 R2 fileservers

  • Physical server to Physical server migration:  the migration tools can be used to migrate physical servers to new 64-bit physical servers

  • Physical server to Virtual server migration:  the same migration tools can be used to migrate physical servers to new 64-bit virtual guest sessions running on Microsoft Hyper-V or VMware

  • 32-bit to 64-bit and 64-bit to 64-bit migraitons:  the migration tools can migrate both 32-bit and 64-bit sources to the new Windows 2008 R2 64-bit systems

  • Active Directory 2003 and Active Directory 2008 to Active Directory 2008 R2:  the migration tools include migration wizards, tools, and migration procedures for migrating to the latest version of Active Directory

  • Virtual Server 2005 and Hyper-V 2008 to Hyper-V 2008 R2:  guest sessions of previous Microsoft virtual sessions can be migrated directly to Windows 2008 R2 Hyper-V R2

  • DHCP and DNS Migration:  migration of utility servers like DNS and DHCP can be migrated to Windows 2008 R2 with the DHCP migration tool migrating not only DHCP “scopes” but also DHCP “leases”!  I’ll be covering DHCP migrations in my next post

  • Print Server Migration:  tools and a step by step guide is provided to help with the migration of existing print servers running on Windows 2003 and Windows 2008 to 64-bit Windows 2008 R2 print servers, including migrating printer definition files, configuring new drivers, configuring print settings, reapplying user and administrative permissions, etc.

  • RRAS Migration:  for organizations that have Routing and Remote Access Servers setup in their environment (typically for VPN access, but sometimes for Site to Site VPNs), there is a step by step guide along with a series of migration tools that help organizations migrate from RRAS on Windows 2003 and 2008 to RRAS on Windows 2008 R2.

  • Certificate of Authority Migration:  this is a new one, I just reviewed it a couple weeks ago, helps you migrate your Certificate Server off a Windows 2003 or 2008 box, to a new Windows 2008 R2 box yet keep all of your certificates, policies, configurations, etc...  Includes a VB script that assists with the migraiton.

These tools can be installed on a Windows Server 2008 R2 system from the Add Features Wizard in Server Manager as well as new tools as well as updated tools can be downloaded off the link noted previously.

I will cover my favorite migration tool in my next posting titled “Migrating DHCP to Windows 2008 R2”.  I really like this tool as it allows an organization to not only migrate a physical Windows 2003 (or 2008) DHCP server to a virtual (or physical) Windows 2008 R2 server, but it also migrates over all DHCP settings including scopes AND including leases!  The migration of leases is a huge thing.  If you have say 500 users all with DHCP addresses assigned to them, in the past when you replaced a DHCP server you had to play the game of changing the DHCP lease period so that leases expire in say 4-hours so you could slip in a new DHCP server without having DHCP address conflicts (where the new DHCP server issued leases that conflicted with the old leases issued previously by the old DHCP server).  With this migration tool, it extracts DHCP leases from the old server and migrates them to the new server so that when the new Windows 2008 R2 server comes online, it knows about all previous DHCP leases and continues on doing its job as a DHCP server.  What used to be a several hour / highly planned and managed process of retiring an old DHCP server is now done in minutes with the DHCP migration tool.  My next post will cover this process...

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