By Ivy / Last update November 9, 2021

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Can you migrate Windows Server to new hardware machine

When your Windows Server machine has aged badly and is in dire need of an upgrade, or you encounter some severe problems caused by hardware failures, system crashes, natural disaster or human error, you may want to migrate the old server to a new server. In this case, you do not have to reinstall Windows Server system from scratch because Windows Server 2016 can be migrated to new hardware along with the data.

While migration, you need to take many things (such as driver issues) into consideration because of the difference in hardware. Fortunately, the Windows Server Backup utility provided by Microsoft includes bare metal recovery capability, allowing you to restore Windows Server backup image to dissimilar hardware more effeciently.

Is Windows Server license transferable?

This is another issue of concern. After all, if the license does not work after migration, there will be a lot of follow-up problems. The answer is actually same as in Windows Client system: it depens on the license type. 

To check your license type, you can open Command Prompt or PowerShell, type "slmgr –dli" and press Enter. Then there will be a pop-up window showing your license type.

If it's a Retail license, there should be no problem with migration, whether to same or dissimilar hardware. If it's an OEM license, however, it is tied to the motherboard and cannot be migrated to dissimilar hardware.

Migrate Windows Server 2016 to new hardware via WSB

To move server 2016 to a new server, as mentioned before, you can run Windows Server Backup to create a bare metal backup, and then restore the backup to the new hardware machine. Here's a more detailed guide.

Preparations for Server 2016 migration

Please note that WSB is not pre-installed in Windows Server 2016 as well as Windows Server 2012, so you need to install it first from Server Manager if you have not. After the installation, just go to Windows Backup Server and follow the wizard to create a full backup. When choosing what to include in the backup, you need to check the item Bare metal recovery as shown below.

Bare Metal Backup Server 2016

Notice: If you find Windows Server Backup Service missing in the process of installing, please follow the given link guide to get it back.

Windows Server 2016 migration to new hardware step-by-step guide

Step 1. After the backup completes, boot your new server machine with a Windows Server 2016 installation disk. Instead of Install now, select Repair your computer at the lower-left corner.

Repair Your Computer

Step 2. Select Troubleshoot > Advanced Options > System Image Recovery.

Advanced Options

Step 3. In the Re-image your computer screen, select the available system image to perform the restore.

Migrate Windows Server 2016 to New Hardware

Normally, the restoring process will take a few hours. After that, you can boot the new Windows Server 2016 machine and system, settings, and installed programs are the same as the old machine.

Error: Windows Server 2016 bare metal recovery failed to complete

However, there are some known cases listed below have shown that the Windows Server 2016 migration will fail using this method:

1. System restore fails because of EFI/BIOS. Windows Server cannot restore a system image to a computer that has different firmware. The system image was created on a computer using EFI/BIOS and this computer is using BIOS/EFI.

2. Windows Server will fail to boot if you restore to hard drive with different partition style.

Therefore, you need to make sure the new hardware machine must have the same firmware and hard disk initialized with same partition style. Most of the recent server machines, if not all, supports UEFI and is compatible with BIOS Legacy boot mode. You can boot into BIOS to change it and you can convert the hard drive partition style to MBR or GPT.

If you think it is too cumbersome, you can use advanced software to move Windows Server 2016 to new hardware with ease. Find a kind of software to migrate Windows Server 2003/2008/2012 to new hardware.

Easier way to migrate Windows Server 2016 to new hardware

AOMEI Backupper Server is reliable backup and recovery software which helps you do Windows Server 2016 migration to new hardware in this case. With its feature Universal Restore, you can restore system image to different hardware regardless of its firmware and partition style, since it will automatically install proper drivers for essential Server Hardware Abstraction Layer (HAL) and mass storage devices. 

Besides, the software earns its own reputation due to its powerful features and easy-to-use user interface. All you need are only 3 steps: create full backup image -> create bootable media (USB or CD) -> restore image to new server machine, and things will be done. Why don't you download its free trial and have a try? 

Download Free Trial For Windows Server & PCs
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This software works with all Windows PCs (11, 10, 8, 7, etc.) and Servers (2022, 2019, 2016, 2012, 2008, etc.). The following uses Windows Server 2016 as an example.

Preparations before migration

Backup is the base of restoration. Therefore, you need to create a backup for your Windows Server 2016 in the first place. Either system backup or disk backup is workable. Then, make a bootable USB drive or CD disc. Install and run AOMEI Backupper Server edition.

1. To create backup image: Click Backup and then choose "System Backup" or "Disk Backup". Then, follow the wizard to complete the back up. It is suggested to save backup image to external drive or network path. Following guide will take restore image from network path for example. 

2. To make a bootable device: Insert an USB drive or CD disc. In AOMEI Backupper Home interface, click Tools in the top right corner. Then, click on "Create Bootable Media". Follow the wizard to complete. To boot from multiple Windows Servers, click on AOMEI PXE Boot Tool at this step. 

When that’s done, you can choose a way to boot the new hardware machine to restore the backup. You can choose from PXE boot (for multiple computers) or bootable media boot (for single computer). 

Step-by-step guide: restore Windows Server 2016 to new hardware

Step 1. Use AOMEI Backupper bootable media or PXE boot tool to boot your target Windows Server machine. 

Step 2. When AOMEI Backupper interface is loaded, click Restore and then click Select Image File to select the backup image you prepared before.

Select Image File

Step 3. Click Share or NAS to add the network path for your backup.

Select Share NAS

Step 4. Click Add Network  Location, type display name, path. username, password and click OK to connect the path, then select image in the network share or NAS path.

Select Image

Step 5. Select to restore entire backup or a part and click Next.

Restore Entire Backup

Step 6. Select the destination disk on the new hardware to restore system image and then click Next.

Select Destination

Step 7. Make sure the option Universal Restore is checked. If you migrate Windows Server 2016 to SSD, you can check the option Align partition to optimize for SSD to improve its performance. Then click Start Restore to start to migrate Windows Server 2016 to new hardware.

Universal Restore

Finally, restart your Server 2016 to experience the familiar operating system on the new Server. If you want to restore Windows Server 2016 backup image to multiple new Servers, you could complete with AOMEI Image Deploy feature. 

Tips:

  • This software is also applicable to migrate Windows Server 2012(R2) to new hardware and other server system, such as, Server 2003, 2008 (R2), 2011, 2016 and 2019.

  • Some drivers (such as the video/sound card drivers, display driver, NIC drivers, etc.) are not installed by Universal Restore for dissimilar hardware. As these drivers will not affect system startup, they can be installed following the restoration.

Final words

When the process complete, you can boot your new server and you can see everything has been transferred to the new server. After successful migration, it is also suggested to keep AOMEI Backupper on the new Server for it provides the best backup solution for installed system and applications. 

For administrators of company, the AOMEI Backupper Technician Plus edition is the most suitable one since the License allows AOMEI Backupper to be installed on unlimited Servers and PCs. In addition, it offers unlimited billable technical services to clients and allows to copy installation directory for portable version creation.