How to Migrate SBS 2008 to Server 2012 R2: Full Guide

How to migrate SBS 2008 to Server 2012 R2? Detailed steps are explained in this guide. If you find the process complex and tedious, there are simple software available to move files between servers.


By Jonna Updated on October 7, 2023

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SBS 2008 to Server 2012 R2 Migration


Hi - I have a customer with SBS 2008 SP2, which includes Exchange 2007. We will be decommissioning this server/domain and setting up a new 2012 R2 server with Exchange 2013. So we are looking for a complete guide for migrating SBS 2008 to Server 2012 R2. Has anyone done this migration before?

Windows Small Business Server 2008(SBS 2008) is a version of Windows Server 2008 intended for small businesses. But now SBS 2008 support has expired so many users look forward to moving to another server like Windows Server 2012 (R2), 2016, 2019, etc.

In this tutorial, we will introduce how to migrate SBS from 2008 to Server 2012 R2 in detail. If you find the procedure cumbersome, you can also try an easier alternative to transfer files from server to server.

Migrate SBS 2008 to Server 2012 R2

Steps to Migrate SBS 2008 to Server 2012 R2

Migrating from Windows SBS 2008 to Server 2012 R2 can be a complex process, as SBS 2008 included various integrated services like Exchange Server, SharePoint, and more. The following content will provide you with a step-by-step overview of the migration process.

★Important Considerations Before You Begin:
Backup: Ensure you have a complete and tested backup of your SBS 2008 server, including all data and configurations. You can use the wbadmin start systemstatebackup command for server backup.
Licensing: Make sure you have appropriate licenses for Windows Server 2012 R2, as well as any additional services you plan to install.
Hardware: Ensure that your new hardware meets the system requirements for Windows Server 2012 R2.

Step 1. Raise SBS Domain Functional Level

First, You need to migrate SYSVOL replication from NTFRS to DFSR. You can use the following command in Command Prompt and check the current Global state:

  • dfsrmig /getglobalstate

Use the following command to check the global state:

  • dfsrmig /setglobalstate 1

Wait for one minute or two, execute the following command again:

  • dfsrmig /getglobalstate

If the output displays Current DFSR global state: ‘Prepared’, execute the following command:

  • dfsrmig /setglobalstate 2

Then, check the status with:

  • dfsrmig /getglobalstate

If it displays the global state as 'Redirected,' check the status again of the migration running the command below:

  • dfsrmig /getmigrationstate

If the output states, “Migration has reached a consistent state on all Domain Controllers,” it means everything has worked. Finally, to complete the SBS preparation for migration, run the following command:

  • dfsrmig /setglobalstate 3

Step 2. Install Server 2012 R2and Join the Domain

Now that SBS 2008 is prepared for migration, it's time to prepare the new Windows Server 2012 R2 and promote it as a Domain Controller (DC). Here's how to achieve this using PowerShell commands:

  • $currentDomain = Read-Host -Prompt "Enter your internal domain name:"
  • $cred = Get-Credential -Message "Enter Domain Administrator Credential."

In the process described, you will encounter a prompt where you need to input the internal domain name and provide your credentials to complete the task successfully.

Step 3. Transfer FSMO Roles

Transfer the FSMO (Flexible Single Master Operations) roles to the new Windows Server 2012 R2. You can use the ntdsutil tool or PowerShell commands for this.

Step 4. Migrate Active Directory

Active Directory provides centralized creation and management of user accounts and allows users or groups to be granted access to resources on multiple computers. You can transfer Active Directory to another server via PowerShell or a professional tool.

Step 5. Migrate Exchange Server

If you're using Exchange on SBS 2008, you will need to migrate your mailboxes and public folders to a new Exchange server (Exchange 2010 or later). This can be a complex process, and you might want to consider using third-party migration tools or services for this step.

Step 6. Migrate SharePoint

If you have SharePoint on SBS 2008, you'll need to migrate your SharePoint data to a new SharePoint server. This can also be a complex process, and third-party tools may be helpful.

Step 7. Migrate Other Services and Data

Migrate any other services or data from SBS 2008 to Windows Server 2012 R2, such as DHCP, DNS, file shares, printers, etc.

Step 8. Update Client Computers

1). Update the DNS settings on client computers to point to the new Windows Server 2012 R2 as their DNS server.

2). Reconfigure email clients to connect to the new Exchange server if applicable.

Step 9. Decommission SBS 2008

Once you have confirmed that all data and services have been successfully migrated, you can decommission the SBS 2008 server. This may involve removing it from the domain, demoting it as a domain controller, and eventually shutting it down.

Step 10. Testing and Cleanup

1). Thoroughly test all services and data on the new Windows Server 2012 R2 to ensure everything is working as expected.

2). Remove any remaining traces of SBS 2008 from the network, such as DNS entries, DHCP settings, and Group Policy settings.

Best Software for Windows SBS 2008 to Server 2012 R2 Migration

As you can see, the whole process of performing SBS 2008 to Server 2012 R2 migration is complex and error-prone with the foregoing guide. Is there an easier way to migrate SBS 2008 to a new server? AOMEI Backupper Server is the best answer.

💜 Wide Compatibility. This software supports Windows Server 2022/2019/2016/2012/2008/2003 (including R2)/SBS 2003/2008/2011, as well as Windows 11, 10, 8.1, 8, 7, Vista, XP (all 32-bit and 64-bit versions).
💜 Flexible Backup Options. Four backup types are available: System Backup/Disk Backup/Partition Backup/File Backup. This flexibility means you can back up your entire server or select specific folders, depending on your needs.
💜 Efficient Restore. It offers Universal Restore to help you restore image files to dissimilar hardware without worrying about boot issues. And it supports different backup storage, such as internal or external drives, USB devices, network shares or NAS, cloud drives, etc.

Just download it to get a Just download 30-day free trial, and learn how to perform SBS 2008 backup and restore to Server 2012 R2 for migration easily.

Download Free Trial Windows Server & PC
Secure Download

Step 1. Plug in a USB drive to your SBS 2008 device. Install and run AOMEI Backupper Server on your computer to create bootable media by clicking Tools > Create Bootable Media.

Create Bootable Meida

Step 2. Click Backup and choose System Backup to backup the OS. It is recommended to save the backup image to a network location.

System Backup

Step 3. Connect the bootable USB flash drive to the Server 2012 R2 machine. And boot from the USB by changing boot order in BIOS settings.

Step 4. Once the USB drive boots up, you will see AOMEI Backupper Server loaded. Click Restore and then click on Select Image File.

Select Image Files

Step 5. Select Share/NAS then Add Network Location. Enter the network path where the system image is located and click OK. If required, provide the username and password for access.

Path Username Password

Step 6. Navigate to the image file, select the correct image backup, and click OK.

Select Image

Step 7. Choose Restore this system backup and hit Next.

Restore Entire Backup

Step 8. Select the destination disk on the new hardware where you want to restore the system image and click Next.

Select Destination

Step 9. Don't forget to tick Universal Restore to ensure a secure boot. And click Start Restore to initiate the process of migrating SBS 2008 to Server 2012 R2.

Universal Restore


This article shows you full guide on migrating SBS 2008 to Server 2012 R2. If you need an easy-to-use server migration tool, you can try AOMEI Backupper Server. It can also help you migrate SBS 2008 to Server 2019 and other server systems easily.

Also, this software has many other useful functions like upgrading to larger hard drive with Disk Clone, transferring files from one computer to another with File Sync, etc. All of these functions can help you migrate and protect your data.

Furthermore, if you require comprehensive data protection for an unlimited number of PCs and servers within your company, you may choose AOMEI Backupper Technician Plus.

Jonna · Editor
Jonna joined AOMEI in 2021 and has become a professional in the areas of computer backup and restoration, disk cloning, file synchronization, etc. She maintains a keen eye for the latest technology trends, ensuring that the information provided is always in step with industry developments.