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Update makes Storage Migration Service more cloud-friendly

In days of yore, when Microsoft released a new version of Windows Server, the features in its administrative tools remained fixed until the next major version, which could be three or four years. Today's Microsoft no longer follows this glacial release cadence.

The PowerShell team drops previews every few weeks and plans to deliver a major version annually. The developers for the Windows Admin Center put out the 16th update in November 2019 since the April 2018 general availability release. Among the new features and refinements is more cloud-friendly functionality to one of its tools, the Storage Migration Service.

The Storage Migration Service is a feature in Windows Server 2019 designed to reduce the traditional headaches associated with moving unstructured data -- such as Microsoft Word documents, Excel files and videos -- to a newer file server either on premises or in the cloud. Some files come with a lot of baggage in the form of Active Directory memberships or specific share properties that can hamstring a manual migration.

Firing up robocopy and hoping everything copies to the new file server without issue has not typically gone well for administrators when complaints roll in from users about missing file or share permissions. And that's just the typical experience when moving from one on-premises file server to another. The technical leap to get all that data and its associated properties into a file server in the cloud normally requires a team of experts to ensure a seamless transition.

That's where version 1910 of the Windows Admin Center steps in. Microsoft developers tweaked the underlying functionality to account for potential configuration mishaps that would botch a file server migration to the cloud, such as insufficient space for the destination server. Windows Admin Center now comes with an option to create an Azure VM that handles the minutiae, such as installation of roles and domain join setup.

This video tutorial by contributor Brien Posey explains how to use the Storage Migration Service to migrate a Windows Server 2008 file server to a newer supported Windows Server version. The transcript of these instructions is below.

With Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2 having recently reached the end of life, it's important to transition away from those servers if you haven't already done so.

In this video, I want to show you how to use the Storage Migration Service to transfer files from a Windows Server 2008 file server over to something newer, such as Windows Server 2019.

With the Windows Admin Center open, go to the Storage Migration Service tab. I've used Server Manager to install the Storage Migration Service and the Storage Migration Service proxy. I went into the Add Roles and Features and then added those. I've enabled the necessary firewall rules. Specifically, you need to allow SMB, netlogon service and WMI (Windows Management Instrumentation).

There are three steps involved in a storage migration. Step one is to create a job and inventory your servers. Step two is to transfer data from your own servers. Step three is to cut over to the new servers.

Let's start with step one. The first thing we need to do is to create an inventory of our own server. Click on New job, and then I choose my source device. I have a choice between either Windows servers and clusters or Linux servers. Since I'm going to transfer data off of Windows Server 2008, I select Windows servers and clusters.

I have to give the job a name. I will call this 2008 and click OK.

Next, I provide a set of credentials and then I have to add a device to inventory. Click Add a device and then we could either enter the device name or find it with an Active Directory search. I'm going to search for Windows servers, which returns five results. The server legacy.poseylab.com is my Windows Server 2008 machine. I'll select that and click Add.

The next thing is to select this machine and start scanning it to begin the inventory process. The scan succeeded and found a share on this machine.

Click Next and enter credentials for the destination server. We're prompted to specify the destination server. I'm going to select Use an existing server or VM, click the Browse button and search for a Windows server. I'll use a wildcard character as the server name to search Active Directory.

I've got a machine called FileServer.poseylab.com that's the server that I'm going to use as my new file server. I'll select that and click Add and then Scan, so now we see a list of everything that's going to be transferred.

The C:\ volume on our old server is going to be mapped to the C:\ volume on our new server. We can also see which shares are going to be transferred. We've only got one share called Files in the C:\Files path. It's an SMB share with 55.5 MB of data in it. We will click the Include checkbox to select this particular share to be transferred.

Click Next and we can adjust some transfer settings. The first option is to choose a validation method for transmitted files. By default, no validation is used, but being that I'm transferring such a small amount of data, I will enable CRC64 validation. Next, we can set the maximum duration of the file transfer in minutes.

Next, we can choose what happens with users and groups; we have the option of renaming accounts with the same name, reusing accounts with the same name or not transferring users and groups. We can specify the maximum number of retries and the delay between retries in seconds. I'm going to go with the default values on those and click Next.

We validate the source and the destination device by clicking the Validate button to run a series of tests to make sure that you're ready to do the transfer. The validation tests passed, so we're free to start the transfer. Click Next.

This screen is where we start the transfer. Click on Start transfer to transfer all the data. After the transfer completes, we need to verify our credentials. We have a place to add our credentials for the source device and for the destination device. We will use the stored credentials that we used earlier and click Next.

We have to specify the network adapter on both the source and the destination servers. I'm going to choose the destination network adapter and use DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol). I'm going to assign a randomly generated name to the old server after the cutover, so the new server will assume the identity of the old server. Click Next.

We're prompted once again for the Active Directory credentials. I'm going to use the stored credentials and click Next.

We're taken to the validation screen. The source device original name is legacy.poseylab.com and it's going to be renamed to a random name. The destination server's original name was fileserver.poseylab.com and is going to be renamed to legacy.poseylab.com, so the destination server is going to assume the identity of the source server once all of this is done. To validate this, click on the server and then click Validate. The check passed, so I'll go ahead and click Next.

The last step in the process would be to perform the cutover. Click on Start cut over to have the new server assume the identity of the old server.

That's how a migration from Windows Server 2008 to Windows Server 2019 works using the Storage Migration Service.

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