Say you have a really horrific SBS 2003 network.  If the health of the active directory is in question, if the internal domain is horrific, and if you’d just like to start over here are some things to help you do a clean install and keep the good stuff.

1.  Keep the data.  Obviously raw data needs to be kept.  If there are programs that are installed via UNC paths and mapped drives, be prepared to reinstall the software on the workstations if the programs installed need it.  Ensure you have a backup, and do an extra copy of the data via robocopy to an external drive or usb drive.

2.  Export out the emails.  This only works if your mailboxes are under 2 gigs.  If they are not, this might be a good time to clean out the system.  Go into your EXISTING SBS 2003 and then into Outlook.  Click on File, Import and Export and export out the file contents.

Park it somewhere where you will remember where you stuck it (this is very important).

Now you have a couple of choices when you slide in the new server.  You’ll need to drop the workstations back to workgroup and you can use http://connect to join the domain but this may not migrate over the domain profile to the new domain profile.  You can use a tool called forensit to migrate the profiles over — ForensiT User Profile Wizard will migrate your current user profile to your new domain account so that you can keep all your existing data and settings.  Or I’ve also dug under the profile and copied over the desktop icons.

Now then once you’ve reconnected the workstations to the domain, you’ve remapped the drives (using group policy preferences I might add) then you launch your workstation that autofinds that new Exchange 2007 mailserver and you have clean mailboxes.  Now you click on file, import and you reimport back into the mailboxes those exported out pst files.

Keep in mind this is a lot of sneakernetting.  But if you feel that nuking the existing domain and setting up a clean, fresh domain is the best way to cut the ties on the old server, this is a tried and true way to move (I wouldn’t call this a migration) over to a SBS 2008 box.  This is the method I used to move to SBS 2003 because my old SBS 2000 had a horrific domain name and I make the conscious decision to start all over from scratch. 

In a small network, with a really bad prior domain, you just may want to consider this.


10 Responses to So ya wanna do a clean install in an existing network?

  1. Amir Sadeh says:

    I did this too – mainly because the migration wizard produced a flaky sbs2008 install and this was going to be quicker, easier and produce a better end product than restoring the sbs2003 from backup, trying again, maybe hitting the same problem, etc..

    The fact that Dell “ProSupport” had no clue about supporting the migration when it hit an issue was also a factor in my assessment!

    wait x days for tech support resolution with network down


    spend whole night at office and have new domain fully functional by morning.

  2. Amir Sadeh says:

    ==> and I forgot to mention. I used this great SharePoint Content Deployment Wizard at to move my Sharepoint 3.0 data from SBS2003 – SBS2008. It saved my bacon – the whole backup, bind, restore routine was killing me because of some strange parameters in the original install.

  3. Steve says:

    Do you have outlook installed on the SBS server? I always thought that it was not supported:

    But, I have seen other people do it.

  4. Jeff Longley says:

    Done this a few times; The one thing I’ve found is that people always want “their contacts” from outlook. You point them at the contact folder and that’s when you discover that what they ACTUALLY want, is the autocomplete.

    So fish out the .nk2 file from their old profile, then slap them about to remind them that autocomplete does not equal contacts!.

  5. Jonathan Sullivan says:

    With a few slight modifications, I did this VERY successfully.
    I highly recommend you consider this if you are dealing with an ailing domain.

  6. Dan says:

    I plan to do this as well. However, we have several mailboxes that are well over 2GB (they don’t use cached mode in Outlook so performance is OK). Rather than fuss with the 2GB-constrined exmerge (or Outlook’s export capability) I have decided to use a spare x64 laptop to do an actual SBS 2003-.SBS 2008 migration to get the mailboxes moved over to Exchange 2007. Then I will use the Export-Mailbox cmdlet to get them to .pst files (which are allowed to be >2GB).

    A totally roundabout way of getting from A to B but believe me it is easier than making the boss delete 2/3 of his e-mail or trying to archive it into separate pst files that are <2GB.

    Why they never made exmerge compatible with unicode PSTs is beyond me.

    Anyway, I just feel much better starting from scratch, despite the added hassle.

  7. Bill says:

    Just a small recommendation… change the local administrator password on all of the workstations to something you know PRIOR to disjoining from the domain. Everybody knows this, but it is easy to forget and then have to use password reset tools.

  8. John says:

    Good one Bill. Been there myself….

  9. Joe Raby says:

    I’m not a huge Sharepoint user, but I can see that the deployment program would come in handy.

    As far as a server reformat goes for me, backup consists of copying the user redirected folders over to a USB HDD, backing up PST files from Outlook (lets face it, sometimes reimporting PST data on workstations is just easier than working with Exchange), and grabbing the last few shared folders on the server, and the few non-redirected folders on workstations that contain stuff (virtual machine VHD folders are NEVER redirected for performance reasons, and on Vista, the Downloads folder is not redirected automatically, which is sometimes a security necessity). Raw folder copies are your freind here. Backing up AD and db sources are a chore, and too many things can go wrong during restoration (any one that had to get Exchange mailboxes reimported and had issues with GUID’s because of AD knows my pain). Sometimes it’s the only way to do it, but I try to avoid it if possible.

    Put everything on a USB HDD, or twelve.

    Download “F6” drivers for SBS if necessary, as well as network drivers. Stick them on the USB HDD too. It’s best to make sure they’re already extracted.

    Format, reinstall SBS 2008. If I didn’t already mention it, you should already have a Backup MX service like what offers, so that you don’t miss any incoming email during downtime. I did mention that ahead of time, right?

    Format, reinstall workstations. (I mean, if you’re gonna go through the hassle of doing the server, you might as well do the workstations too, right? RIGHT!?) Then join the computers up again, and copy everything back to the server and workstations where it belongs.


    It usually takes me about 2 days of fretting about backups, and then another week of getting the nerve to attack it. Then it takes about 3 hours to actually do the whole thing. Vista clients on SBS 2008 is MUCH simpler than XP on SBS 2003. If you’re a smart cookie, you’ll have a system with the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit installed so that workstations can wiped and reimaged, completely, in about 5 minutes. I personally use the OEM Preinstallation Kit because I run a system builder business, but the process and tools are very similar. Software installation isn’t time consuming at all. I haven’t configured an SBS 2008 installation script yet, but you definitely can, and it takes about the same – about 5 minutes to plug an SBS 2008 image onto a system, ready for OOBE bootup and end-user configuration.

  10. Chris Knight says:

    You can also do user + computer migration by using ADMT at the command line using runas /netonly to get around the domain trust issue, or even using USMT to do profile migration.

    You can also directly manipulate the registry to move a profile and use cacls to reset security on the profile contents, but this can be a pain.

    Exchange is just a dirty great big pain. That’s what we get for having an enterprise product sitting on an SMB product that has structural limitations. Be nice if the Exchange developers actually factored in SMB as a significant portion of their install base.