How to Migrate SBS 2011 to Server 2016 (Exchange 2016)?

Summary: Small Business Server or SBS 2011 reached its end of life on January 14, 2020. Thus, it becomes a necessity to migrate the SBS 2011 to a newer server, such as Windows server 2016. In this guide, you will learn steps to migrate SBS 2011 to Windows Server 2016 and the MS Exchange 2010 on SBS 2011 to MS Exchange 2016 on Server 2016.  

SBS 2011 migration to a new server, such as Windows server 2016, requires you to prepare the SBS 2011 and new server 2016 for migration. Assuming you already have created and set up the new server 2016, you can proceed and migrate everything, such as Domain Controller (DC), DNS, AD, files, folders, DHCP, users, shares, security groups, and permissions from SBS 2011 to Windows Server 2016. That too, without any loss of data or need to re-create user profiles.

Steps to Migrate SBS 2011 to Windows Server 2016

Below, we have discussed all the steps to migrate SBS 2011 with Exchange 2010 to Exchange 2016 on the new Windows server 2016.

Step 1: Prepare SBS 2011 for Migration

First, check the SBS 2011 server and spend some time to find out anything that might cause a problem during the migration. After that start with a System State backup by opening the command prompt as administrator and then entering the following command,

D is the external drive letter.

When prompted, type Y and press ‘Enter’. This may take a while to complete. A backup will help you restore the server in case something goes wrong during the migration process.

Step 2: Raise SBS Domain Functional Level

Next, you need to migrate the SYSVOL replication from NTFRS to DFSR. For more details, visit this Microsoft page.

Then by using the following command in Command Prompt, you need to find the current Global state,

The command is used to check the global state. Use the following command to begin,

After a minute or two, execute the following command again,

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

And then check the status with,

If it displays the global state as ‘Redirected’, then run this command to check the status of the migration,

If the output displays, “Migration has reached a consistent state on all Domain Controllers,” it indicates everything has worked, as it should be. Finally, run the following command to complete the SBS preparation for migration.

Step 3: Install Server 2016 and Join the Domain

Now that we have prepared SBS 2011 for migration, it is time to prepare the new Windows Server 2016 to start the migration process.

Step 4: Promote Exchange Server 2016 as Domain Controller

Now, you need to promote the Server 2016 as Domain Controller (DC). To do so, you can use the following PowerShell commands,

You will see a prompt where you must enter the internal domain name and credentials to finish the task.

NOTE: Do not transfer the FSMO roles right now. We will do that later.

Step 5: Install Required Additional Roles and Features

Now you need to install the following roles to run on Server 2016 DC.

  • AD Certificate
  • DHCP server

Step 6: Install Second Server OS

Install the second server OS, preferably Server 2016 DC, if you are running the Exchange on a separate machine.

Step 7: Insert Installation Media for Exchange 2016

Connect the Exchange 2016 installation media and install the Exchange pre-requisites by using the following PowerShell command,

Then navigate to Server 2016 installation media directory by using ‘cd’ command and execute the following commands,

Step 8: Complete Exchange Server Installation

Once the pre-requisites are successfully installed, schema, AD, and Domain are prepared, you can go ahead and launch the MS Exchange Server 2016 installer and complete the installation.

Step 9: Configure Exchange and Migrate Mailboxes

After Exchange is installed, you can start migrating all the mailboxes from the Exchange on SBS 2011 to Server 2016. For this, you must set up ‘send and receive’ connectors, certificates, and web directories.

Then simply migrate the mailboxes from the SBS 2011 to Exchange server 2016.       

If your SBS 2011 is Exchange 2010 enabled and being used as a mail server, you must migrate the Exchange 2010, along with the SBS 2011 to Windows server 2016 running Exchange 2016.

You can migrate mailboxes by using the Exchange Management Shell (EMS), Exchange Admin Center (EAC), or by using Exchange database (EDB) to PST converter software such as Stellar Converter for EDB.

With EMS, you can export mailboxes from SBS 2011 Exchange 2010 to PST by using New-MailboxExportRequest Cmdlet and then import the PST in Exchange 2016 on Server 2016. However, it may take several manual steps and hours to finish the job. Also, if an issue arises while creating a mailbox export request, you won’t know it until you manually check the progress, which is not shown by default.

On the other hand, Stellar Converter for EDB can directly extract the mailboxes from Exchange 2010 EDB and export them to new Exchange 2016 on server 2016 in a few clicks with 100% precision and accuracy. To know more, visit this page and download the free demo version.

Step 10: Migrate All Public Folders

In case you were not using Public Folders in your domain, you may skip this part as it’s quite tricky and requires you to download a few scripts to perform this task.

Alternatively, you can use Stellar Converter for EDB to export Public Folders to PSTs in a few clicks and then later import the PST. You may also directly migrate Public Folders from Exchange 2010 (SBS 2011) to Exchange 2016 (server 2016) by using this EDB to PST converter software.

Step 11: Verify Exchange Server 2016 Mailboxes

After migrating the mailboxes, open Exchange server 2016 and verify that mailboxes are successfully migrated. Also, verify each user mailbox to avoid any discrepancy later. Also, ensure that the server is online and clients are now connected to the server.

Step 12: Uninstall Exchange from SBS 2011

After verifying the mailboxes, you can uninstall the Exchange 2010 from SBS 2011. However, you still need to perform a few more steps to finish the SBS 2011 to Server 2016 migration.

Step 13: Transfer other Data from SBS 2011 to Server 2016

Transfer other data that you may require from SBS 2011 to Server 2016. However, this can be done later also.

Step 14: Test and Verify AD

Verify the AD health by using the AD Test Tool and DCDiag in the command prompt.

Next, review the log by using the following command,

This opens the log file in notepad where you can review the log. If the log file does not show any errors, you are good to go.

Step 15: Transfer FSMO Roles to Server 2016 DC

The migration will complete after you transfer the FSMO roles to Server 2016. This must be done within 19 days; otherwise, you may encounter severe issues.

Step 16: Decommission and Cleanup Old SBS 2011 Server

Once the FSMO roles are transferred, run the DCDiag command again to ensure everything is in good shape. If you find everything working and stable, demote the SBS server to a member server, instead of DC and then remove it from the domain.

Also, cleanup GPO and remove the SBS related scripts and policies to complete the SBS 2011 to server 2016 migration. Refer to migrate SBS 2008 to Exchange 2013 if you want to move SBS 2008 to server 2013.

In case of an issue or help, leave a comment.