Transition from Small Business Server to Standard Windows Server 2012 R2

By | February 10, 2014

Transition Process:

1. To ensure a seamless transition we need to start by performing Health Check of AD and Exchange using tools like dcdiag, BPA for Small Business Server 2003, 2008 and 2011 and BPA for Exchange:


2. Microsoft Windows Small Business Server 2003 Best Practices Analyzer:


3. Ensure that we take a complete backup along with System State Backup of the Small Business Server.


4. Install the new Standard Windows Server OS (2012 R2) on the new hardware and join it to the existing Small Business domain.


5. Upgrade the Schema on Small Business Server 2003 to support Windows 2012 R2 (Windows Server 2012 has changed this game)

a. Open Server Manager

b. Add Roles and features

c. Click the Next button three times

d. Check – Active Directory Domain Services

  • Click – Add Features

e. Click Next until you get to the Confirmation Screen

f. Click the install button.  Once this is done the close button will be available to click.


6. Promote the new Windows 2012 R2 to be a Domain Controller and DNS Server.

a. Within Server Manager, Click the flag in the upper right hand corner with a yellow exclamation mark

b.  Click the link that says “Promote the server to a domain controller”

c. Select Add a domain controller to an existing domain

d. Type in the domain into the Domain box

e. Click Changeprovide the required Enterprise Administrator credentials and click the Next button

f. Define if server should be a Domain Name System DNS server and Global Catalog (GC). Select the Site to which this DC belongs to and define Directory Services Restoration Mode (DSRM) password for this DC

g. Click the Next button on the DNS options screen.

h. The server will choose the best location for AD database replication if not specified. Click the Next  button once completed.

i. Specify location for AD database and SYSVOL and Click the Next button.

j. Next up is the Schema and Domain preparation.  Alternately, one could run Adprep prior to commencing these steps, Regardless, if Adprep is not detected, it will automatically be completed on your behalf.

k. Finally, the Review Options screen provides a summary of all of the selected options for server promotion. To click the Next button to continue.

l. Should all the prerequisites pass, click the Install button to start the installation.

m. After the process completed, the server restarts, the new Windows Server 2012 Domain Controller setup is completed

7. Make 2012 R2 as Global Catalog


8. Migrate the DHCP database


Application Movement:

All the applications, services and data that are installed or configured on Small Business machine (Exchange, SharePoint, File Server Terminal Server License etc.) we need to transfer them on to 2012 R2 DC or member server’s depending on the nature of the application.

1. Exchange Migration: (If your client has migrated to Office 365 skip this step)


2. Before you move the FSMO roles, install this hotfix, applicable only in case of Small Business Server 2003

This software update extends the allowable grace period form 7 days to 21 days.


3. Transfer the FSMO roles to Windows Server 2012 R2:;EN-US;255504


After you move the FSMO roles, you have 21 days grace period to keep the Small Business Server box running.

Note: After the 21st day, the Small Business Server box reboots itself few time during the day, services become inconsistent, so it’s recommended to perform the steps before this period ends.


After testing in production, uninstall Exchange from Small Business Server.  Then make sure users are able to access and authenticate from the domain.


Demote Small Business Server and un-join it from the domain, reformat and use the old hardware for a boat anchor. 

5 thoughts on “Transition from Small Business Server to Standard Windows Server 2012 R2

  1. BB

    Thanks for this great post
    Can i use this to migrate from sbs 2008 to srv 2012 r2 (as virtual).?

    1. James Post author

      I have not tried that yet with this post. From what I know about Windows Servers this migration should work with Small Business Server 2008 also.

  2. TedKuban

    Please explain the license upgrade options from SBS 2011 with Premium AddOn to Windows Server(s) 2012 R2, SQL and SharePoint Servers.

    1. james Post author

      You have to jump from SBS to Standard. There are no upgrade paths. It is more a rip and replace.


Leave a Reply