I have had the opportunity to try restoring a machine image on completely different hardware recently and I thought this could be very useful to many of you out there. Here is the situation: My client has a few servers and one of those is a Windows Small Business Server that was running on a pretty old machine. They wanted to move everything from that machine to a brand new server that they purchased.
Because they are running a Windows Server 2003 for small business edition, that machine has all the domain/active directory information. The biggest problem with migrating this type of installation is that two small business servers cannot co-exist in the same domain. Of course, there are many ways to do this:
- Use Microsoft’s method and install a second server, then migrate everything manually. This method is limited to 7 days because after that, unless the new server is promoted and the old one demoted, somethings will stop working. You may end up with a new domain name in this case as well.
- Use SBSmigration.com‘s packages for migration. This is probably the best way to go according to the community, but I have not tried it yet. It seems to be the method to provide the best migration experience to the users with no down-time.
- Use some kind of imaging software that will allow you to recover to different hardware. This is a great option if you can manage the down-time for the imaging portion because everything is maintained as it was: same machineID, same domain name, same configuration, everything.
In my case, I chose to go with the imaging because of time restrictions for the migration and because of the fact that they needed to maintain everything in it’s place for some legacy applications. I used Acronis True Image Enterprise Server 9.1 with Universal Restore to migrate their server. I was very happily surprised that the process was so smooth, even with the VERY different hardware I had to move to/from. Different CPU, different brand motherboards, chipsets, video cards, Raid controllers, everything!
You take the source image as you normally would with any other system. Then, when comes time to restore, you must have the Acronis Universal Restore option installed(or licensed on a bootable CD) and begin the process just like any other restore. But once Acronis sees that you are restoring to different hardware, it will simply ask you for the path to the necessary drivers for that new hardware.
In my case the restore went according to plan and the only snag was a Blue Screen on the first boot, and that one was due to different sizes in memory and swap files. This is definitely an option to consider when you need to move an operating system from one machine to the other, if you want to save some time.