Step-by-Step Guide: Upgrade Windows Server 2012 R2 to 2022

If you are looking for how to upgrade Windows Server 2012 R2 to 2022, please continue to read this article to get a complete guide and an easy way to create server backups for security.


By Jonna Updated on March 12, 2024

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Can I upgrade from Server 2012 R2 to 2022?

We want to upgrade Windows Server 2012 R2 to 2022. I have some hard drives (HDD & SSD) which have data, and I am wondering how can I complete the update keeping all files recognizable. Any help on this would be really great, Thanks.

For individuals in the role of a business owner or manager, the significance of possessing a dependable and secure server operating system cannot be overstated. While Windows Server 2012 (R2) had been widely favored by numerous small businesses, the passage of time has ushered in a range of innovative technologies and features. Among these choices lies Windows Server 2022, presenting a compelling option for consideration.

In this article, we will explore the reasons why upgrading from Windows Server 2012 R2 to Windows Server 2022 and how to do it without losing files with a step-wise guide.

Upgrade Windows Server 2012 R2 to 2022

Two common Windows Server upgrade paths include in-place upgrade and clean installation. What we are going to cover in this post is an in-place upgrade, which moves from an older version of the operating system to a newer version, while retaining the same physical hardware.

To safeguard your data, we suggest making a quick backup for recovery in case of future accidents. To enable a backup safely and eaisly, refer to the best backup tool:

How to upgrade Windows Server 2012 R2 to 2022[step by step]

Prior to proceeding with the steps for Windows Server 2012 R2 upgrade to 2022, it is crucial to ensure that your current operating system is up-to-date and to verify the system requirements for installing Windows Server 2022.

Additionally, it is highly recommended to create a server backup beforehand to prevent any potential data loss risks. Now, let us explore the process of performing an in-place upgrade from Windows Server 2012 R2 to Windows Server 2022.

Step 1. Start by obtaining the Windows Server 2022 media from the official website. Download it onto your Server 2012 R2 system and initiate the installer.

Step 2. On the Install Windows Server page, click Change how Setup downloads updates. Proceed by choosing the Download updates, drivers, and optional features option, then tap on Next.

Install Windows Server-2022

Step 3. Enter the product key for your current server and click Next.

The product key below is publicly available in the KMS client activation and setup keys.

Product Key

Step 4. Choose the edition of Windows Server 2022 that corresponds to the edition of 2012 R2 currently installed. Click Next to proceed.

Select Image

Step 5. Read the applicable notices and license terms and hit Accept.

Step 6. Then, On the Choose what to keep screen, select the Keep files, settings, and apps option to hit Next.

Choose What to Keep

Step 7. Once the installer is ready to proceed, click Install. The installation process will commence, displaying the progress of Installing Windows Server. The server will automatically restart upon completion of the Windows Server 2012 R2 in-place upgrade to 2022 process.

Installing Windows Server

Bonus tip: Backup important files before Server 2012 R2 upgrade

Do I need to backup my files before upgrading Server 2012 (R2)? The answer is absolutely YES. This is because, during an in-place upgrade, Windows attempts to transfer all data from the old version to the new one, leading to the accumulation of outdated and unnecessary files, remnants of uninstalled programs in the registry, and other types of clutter. Furthermore, certain programs may not be compatible with the new version.

For a convenient and efficient Windows Server backup process, AOMEI Backupper Server proves to be an exceptional tool. It offers a user-friendly interface and comprehensive backup and recovery features that worthy to try!

AOMEI Backupper
Best Server Backup Software
  • Various backup options: You can choose to backup system, disk, partition, file, and cloud backup.
  • Multiple backup paths: This tool enables you to create server backups to USB, external hard drives, NAS, cloud storage, and various devices.
  • Auto backup: You can set a regular schedule backup in daily/weekly/monthly/event triggers and USB plug-in mode as you need.

Now, you can download the AOMEI Backupper Server software (free for 30 days), and proceed with the tutorial below to create a Server backup now. If you require protection for valuable data and systems on unlimited PCs and Servers, consider trying AOMEI Backupper Technician Plus.

Step 1. Launch AOMEI Backupper Server and navigate to the Backup tab. From there, select File Backup.

File Backup

Step 2. Edit the task name as needed. Then, tap on Add Folder or Add File to select the stuff you want to back up. 

Add Folder or File

Step 3.  Select a destination location to store the file backup. 

Select Backup Destination

Step 4. Once you have configured the backup destination and other backup settings, click Start Backup to initiate the process of backing up Windows files effortlessly before upgrading Windows Server 2012 R2 to 2022.

Start Backup

★Additional features on AOMEI Backupper Server for easier backup:
Options: You have the flexibility to configure various task settings, including backup encryption, intelligent sector, VSS, compression level, image split, etc.
Schedule Backup: If you want to protect your data for a long time, you can set auto backups in daily, weekly, monthly, event triggers, or even USB plug in.
Backup Scheme: You can choose to create a full backup, incremental backup, or differential backup. And it is able to automatically delete backup image files according to the type of scheme you choose.

Best way to backup Windows Server for enterprises

If you are an enterprise user who has multiple Windows servers, PCs, and virtual machines, the best backup solution is AOMEI Cyber Backup. It offers an easy way to backup all Windows Servers, computers, virtual machines, as well as MS SQL databases on a console. 

It comes with various features and advantages to meet the backup needs of businesses.

Various backup ways: Disk backup, partition backup, and system for different levels of data backup.

Incremental and differential backup: Based on a full backup, you can perform incremental & differential backup to backup only changed or newly added data to save time and space.

Automated task execution: Customize a backup schedule, then it will run backup task daily, weekly, or monthly.

Backup to different locations: You can backup Windows server to NAS, local drive, external HDD, flash drive, etc.

Hit the download button to install this software, then we will show you how to use this tool.

Download Free TrialThe easiest enterprise backup
Secure Download

Step 1. Install, run, and log in AOMEI Cyber Backup. The default username and password for AOMEI Cyber Backup are both "admin".

Step 2. Click Source Device > Windows > Add Windows Device to add the Windows Server device that you want to backup. 

Add Windows Device

Note: If you need to backup VMware ESXi, Hyper V, or SQL database, just click the corresponding option.

Step 3. Click Backup Task > + Create New Task. Choose a backup type, task name, target, and setup schedule, and other settings. Then click Start Backup.

Create Disk Backup

FAQs about upgrading Windows Server 2012 R2

Here are some related questions to upgrading Server 2012 to 2022. You can check to see if there is something you are interested in.

★1. Is Windows Server 2012 R2 outdated?

Microsoft has announced that support for Windows Server 2012 and Windows Server 2012 R2 will end on October 10, 2023. Beyond this date, these products will no longer receive security updates, non-security updates, bug fixes, technical support, or online technical content updates.

★2. Can I upgrade from Server 2012 R2 to 2022?

Yes, you can upgrade from Windows Server 2012 R2 to 2022. Check compatibility of applications and hardware, perform a full backup, ensure the server is fully updated, plan downtime, and document configurations. Follow Microsoft's documentation and tools for the upgrade process. Be prepared for potential application compatibility issues and hardware requirements.

★3. How to check if the Windows Server 2012 R2 to 2022 upgrade is successful?

To verify if the upgrade to Server 2022 is successful, you could go to Registry Editor, head toward HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\WindowsNT\CurrentVersion, and check the edition of your Windows Server in ProductName.

★4. Benefits of upgrading to Windows Server 2022.

What makes upgrading Server 2012 R2 to 2022 a popular choice? Numerous factors contribute to its appeal:

♦Heightened security: Windows Server 2022 surpasses Server 2012 R2 in terms of cybersecurity, possessing the ability to detect and counteract data breaches, zero-day threats, and network-based attacks effectively.

♦Superior performance and scalability: Compared to previous versions, Server 2022 supports higher memory limits, increased virtual machine density, and improved storage performance.

♦Streamlined remote working: With the inclusion of Remote Desktop Services (RDS) on Server 2022, remote workers gain seamless access to mission-critical applications and virtual desktops.

♦Enhanced cloud integration: Windows Server 2022 introduces advanced compatibility with cloud services like Microsoft Azure, enabling the harnessing of cloud scalability and flexibility.

★5. How to upgrade Domain Controller from 2012 R2 to 2022 step by step?

Here is how you can do it:

  1. Check Compatibility: Ensure your applications work with Windows Server 2022.
  2. Backup: Back up your current server's data.
  3. Update: Make sure your current server is fully updated.
  4. Prepare Domain: Use the Windows Server 2022 installation media to prepare the domain.
  5. Install New Server: Set up a new server with Windows Server 2022.
  6. Promote: Make the new server a domain controller.
  7. Transfer Roles: Move operations roles to the new server.
  8. Verify: Check that everything is replicating properly.
  9. Migrate Services: Move DHCP, DNS, etc., if needed.
  10. Demote Old Server: Take the old server out of the domain controller role.
  11. Check Everything: Make sure everything's working fine.
  12. Raise Functional Levels: Consider raising the domain functional level if desired.
  13. Monitor: Keep an eye out for any issues.


The process of upgrading from Windows Server 2012 R2 to 2022 is typically straightforward. However, it is important to note that there is a potential for failure or the inadvertent loss of files during the update. To ensure the safety of your files, hard drives, and systems during Windows Server 2012 R2 migration to 2022, please consider utilizing AOMEI Backupper Server. This software provides a reliable solution for creating flexible backups.

With this tool, you can effortlessly backup and restore any items, including the ability to restore a system to a new hard drive or computer. Additionally, it facilitates automatic backup of Windows Server to cloud, allows for bare metal recovery of Windows Server to different hardware, enables the restoration of Windows Server to a virtual machine, etc.

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.