Windows Server 2003 Migration to New Hardware
April 13, 2008 11:45 PM   Subscribe

Help with home media Windows Server 2003 Migration to New Hardware

I've been running my home media server for a few years now. Its four storage discs are dynamic discs bundled together in a software RAID 5 array. The four discs together total ~1TB, or ~750GB after RAID overhead.

I've had this server for a few years now, and I'm looking into upgrading. I want to put Server 2k3 on a new machine, and put bigger discs in the machine, and then create a new RAID volume, say, 4TB or so (probably 3TB after RAID overhead). Maybe more.

This is the question: How do I move all of my files, shares, permissions, user accounts, etc. from the old server to the new one?

I want the move to the new server to be completely transparent to my users (meaning myself, friends, family).

I've really loved this server these past few years. It's been rock solid, and I'm looking forward to my next one. But it took me a long time to get it Just. So. I need to put everything back the way it is now on the new server. And I've grown out of 1 measly little TB. Please help!

Stuff that might be relevant:

Current system has four storage drives and one OS drive. Intel board, Intel proc.
New system will be Intel/Intel/WindowsS2k3/at least 4 storage disks/software RAID/real server case this time.
OS is WinServ2k3 Standard with 5 CALs.
I won't go Linux on this, please don't suggest it.
posted by SlyBevel to Computers & Internet (9 answers total)
Response by poster: To clarify: The old server and the new server will probably exist at the same time, so putting them both on the network and moving files over shouldn't be a problem.

The other stuff, I just don't know about.
posted by SlyBevel at 12:19 AM on April 14, 2008

You want the Active Directory Migration Tool, I expect.
posted by flabdablet at 3:52 AM on April 14, 2008

Response by poster: More clarification: It's not a domain server, and I don't think Active Directory is running either. I could be wrong about that, though.
posted by SlyBevel at 5:56 AM on April 14, 2008

Have a look at using RoboCopy for the files+permissions:
posted by StandardObfuscatingProcedure at 6:33 AM on April 14, 2008

Are you hellbent on it being software RAID? You'll get a LOT better performance out of the upgrade if you go hardware for the storage array.
posted by Ksilebo at 6:37 AM on April 14, 2008

Best answer: Trouble with using RoboCopy to copy files along with their existing permissions is that the permissions (strictly, Access Control Entries) that get copied will define permissions for user accounts on the old server. The same thing will happen with any other file-copy method that preserves ACEs, such as Windows Backup.

A Windows user security ID, or SID, is what the permissions in an ACE actually apply to; the SID for a user is derived from the SID of the computer that defines that user account. If you're not using Active Directory (domain user accounts), then each computer in your workgroup will have its own unique SID, and so will the user accounts it creates. That is: user account SlyBevel on computer OldServer will not have the same SID as user account SlyBevel on computer NewServer.

When you're sharing files over the network in a workgroup, you don't see these SID mismatch issues because Windows translates the SIDs on the two sides of the file-sharing connection by matching the usernames. So when user SlyBevel on Workstation connects to a share on Server, there must also be SlyBevel user account on the server - and it's that account whose permissions are used to do the NTFS access control. If the two SlyBevel accounts have different passwords, then the workstation will prompt the user for the password defined for the SlyBevel account on the server in order to connect to the share. But if you RoboCopy a file from the server to the workstation, and tell RoboCopy to preserve the file permissions, then in general that file will not be accessible on the workstation until some workstation-specific ACEs are added to it.

In an Active Directory (Windows domain) environment, all user accounts are defined on the domain controller, and they're all based on the domain controller's own SID. So, you can RoboCopy files from computer to computer, preserving their ACEs, and SlyBevel will be able to access them the same way on any computer, in an AD environment.

SlyBevel, if you're not using AD at present, then I think the path of least resistance for you does, unfortunately, have a fair bit of resistance in it. What I'm suggesting you do is completely clone your existing server. I suspect that, strictly speaking, this will put you in breach of some Microsoft EULA or other, but provided you do actually have a Windows 2003 licence for each of your boxes, I can't see it causing you too much grief.

First, you want to take Ksilebo's advice and go for hardware RAID. Don't use whatever hardware RAID facilities are built into your new mobo; get a separate RAID controller card.

Then you can plug that card into your old server, while all the drives connected to it are mounted in your new server and running off the new server's power supply. Effectively, you'll be temporarily using your new server box as a massive external SATA drive for the old box.

Then make a Volume Shadow Copy of each of the old server's volumes, so that you can copy all the files without worrying about some of them (like registry hives) being in use.

Then use RoboCopy to mirror-copy every single file from the shadow copies onto corresponding new volumes on the new RAID array (mirror copy preserves file permissions). What you'll end up with is a 100% clone of your old server on your new array, but with more free space.

Then plug the RAID controller into your new server, boot from the Server 2003 setup disc, and run a Windows repair install to make the new array bootable and pick up all your new hardware.

That might work. If it does, all you'll need to do to cut people over is unplug the network cable from the old box and put it in the new one. I wouldn't run two cloned servers on the same network at the same time, though; I'm sure Windows would find a way to make that fail badly.
posted by flabdablet at 7:23 AM on April 14, 2008

Response by poster: Wow, flabdablet, that's an amazing answer. Kinda scary though.

Would it help if I turned my server into a Domain Controller and then used the migration tool? Would the shares and users move better then?
posted by SlyBevel at 11:58 AM on April 14, 2008

Best answer: I expect so, yes.
posted by flabdablet at 4:58 PM on April 14, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks flabdablet! I guess it's time for me to study up on how to convert my current shares/users/etc. to AD versions.
posted by SlyBevel at 9:29 PM on April 14, 2008

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