Prepare to migrate a Windows server

  • Last updated on: 2016-11-14
  • Authored by: Hounsou Dansou

This article provides recommended actions to perform before you migrate your Windows server to mitigate common issues and optimize your server for a faster transition. These recommendations are based on common issues identified by Rackspace support technicians and are not required operations. Some of these recommendations can cause significant downtime, so schedule them accordingly.

For Linux migration preparation, see Prepare to migrate a Linux server.

Back up your data

Before you perform a migration, create a tested, file-level backup of important data. Rackspace offers a backup solution, Cloud Backup, which requires a backup agent on the server. For instructions on installing this agent, see Rackspace Cloud Backup - Install the agent (Windows).

To set up your backup directory and a schedule for exporting your backup to Cloud Files, see the instructions at Rackspace Cloud Backup - Create a Backup.

Note: Cloud Backup does not back up live databases. If you want to use data from a live database, we recommend that you configure Microsoft SQL Server to create a local backup, and then use the Cloud Backup agent to create a backup of the database. For more information about configuring SQL Server to create local backups, see Create a maintenance backup place in SQL Server 2008 R2.

For more information about Cloud Backup, see http://www.rackspace.com/cloud/backup.

Verify that the server is fully patched

If the server is not fully patched, remaining patches might be installed during the migration, which will delay the operation. To prevent this issue, install all pending updates before beginning the migration. Use the following instructions appropriate for your server version.

Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2

  1. Click Start > Control Panel.
  2. Click Windows Update to view the information related to updates ready to be installed.

    If a green shield appears on the Windows Update page, the server has all patches applied. Otherwise, proceed with the installation of any pending updates.

Windows Server 2012 and 2012 R2

  1. Move the cursor to the bottom-right corner of the screen and activate the Charms bar.
  2. Click the search icon and type Control Panel for the search term.
  3. On the ribbon under the search field, click Control Panel.
  4. Click System and Security and then Windows Update to see if there are pending updates to install.
  5. If so, install the updates at a convenient time.

Check the pending reboot status

To ensure that your server comes online after the migration, determine whether there are pending Windows updates that require a reboot or whether a reboot is already pending because of updates. Pending Windows updates can cause errors when run on a newly migrated server, so it is important to ensure that updates are completed before imaging or migrating a server and that any pending reboots are performed.

Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2

  1. Click Start > Control Panel.
  2. Click Windows Update.

    If there is a pending reboot, the page will display a message to restart the server. Reboot the server and apply the updates on reboot.

Windows Server 2012 and 2012 R2

  1. Move the cursor to the bottom right corner of the screen and activate the Charms bar.
  2. Click on the search icon and type Control Panel for the search term.
  3. On the ribbon under the search field, click Control Panel.
  4. Click System and Security and then Windows Update to see if Windows is pending a reboot or restart. If any pending updates are present, reboot the server and apply the updates on reboot.

Prune and archive old data

Remove or export all large or unused files. You can use Cloud Backup to export large files to Cloud Files.

Delete old logs.

Truncate the database log

If your database log is large, consider truncating it. Microsoft provides instructions at http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ms189493.aspx.

Stop all create and update operations in the database

Rackspace recommends limiting disk activity during the migration because it increases the total amount of time needed to migrate the server. Normally the biggest contributor to disk activity is the database service Mssql. Before you begin this step, ensure that you have a maintenance page that informs your customers about ongoing maintenance.

Option 1: Put the database in read-only mode

During the migration, consider running your database in read only mode to stop all create and update operations. Run the following TSQL query on the database server.

ALTER DATABASE databaseName
SET READ_ONLY
WITH NO_WAIT

To make the server roll back all open connections, run the following query instead:

ALTER DATABASE databaseNeme
SET READ_ONLY
WITH ROLLBACK IMMEDIATE

Option 2: Stop the database service

If you prefer to stop the database service instead of putting the database in read only mode, use the following steps to stop the database service.

Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2

  1. Click Start > All Programs > Microsoft SQL Server > Configuration Tools > SQL Server Configuration Manager.
  2. In the SQL Server Configuration Manager window, expand SQL Server Services.
  3. In the right pane, right-click SQL Server (instanceName) and stop the service.

    Note: instanceName is the instance name of the database server.

Windows Server 2012 and 2012 R2

  1. Move the cursor to the bottom right corner of the screen and activate the Charms bar.
  2. Click on the search icon, and type “SQL Server Configuration Manager”.
  3. On the ribbon under the search field, click SQL Server Configuration Manager.
  4. In the SQL Server Configuration Manager window, expand SQL Server Services.
  5. In the right pane, right click SQL Server (instanceName) and stop the service.

    Note: instanceName is the instance name of the database server.

Ensure that all critical services are set to start automatically

Review and confirm that all of the services critical to your processes are set to start automatically.

Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2

  1. Click the Start menu, type services.msc in the search field and press Enter.
  2. In the Services Management window, double click a service that you want to configure to automatically start, and set the startup type to Automatic.

Windows Server 2012 and 2012 R2

  1. Move the cursor to the bottom right corner of the screen and activate the Charms bar.
  2. Click the search icon and type services.msc. On the ribbon under the search field, click services.msc.
  3. In the Services Management window, double-click a service that you want to configure to automatically start, and set the startup type to Automatic.

Postmigration tasks

After the server migration is complete, perform the following tasks:

  • Ensure that the server is online. Run the ping command followed by your server’s IP address.

  • Ensure that the remote connection to the server works by initiating an RDP session to the server.
  • Ensure that all sites or applications load.

  • Ensure that the database is running and accessible. If you turned off the database service before the migration, turn on the database service.

  • If you have more than one server, ensure that they can communicate.

Continue the conversation in the Rackspace Community.