Last updated on December 8th, 2016 at 03:00 pm.
I recently replaced a 4 year old server for one of my clients which was running Microsoft Small Business Server 2003 as it was starting to seriously struggle to keep up with every thing. On top of that, almost every morning it would be unconnectable, it really wasn’t worth fixing.
The new server is running SBS 2008 and is a very nice machine from IBM, it’s only a base model, the x3200 M2, nothing more is needed really, but the build quality is absolutely impeccable for the money.
Anyway, the new server has taken over everything now and the old one is going to be turned into a backup machine running some other operating system, unsure what as of yet, but first, I need a back up of it, just in case. I figured the best way to do this is as a virtual machine so I can boot it up anywhere if I need it.
I figured I’d try the Microsoft option for doing this, since logically they should know how best to turn their operating system into a virtual machine from a physical machine, right?
I downloaded Disk2VHD from Microsoft’s SysInternals team at //technet.microsoft.com/en-gb/sysinternals/ee656415.aspx and let it do it’s thing. I ended up with a .vhd virtual image that is supposed to work with Microsoft’s Virtual PC.
It doesn’t though. Nor does it work in VMware Player, so this isn’t very helpful to me.
@calrion mentioned that VMware have a freely available converter that will turn a physical machine into a virtual machine, so I figured I’d give it a try. After a quick search, I found VMware’s vCenter Converter which claimed to support Server 2003 among numerous other operating systems. It was a fair bit bigger than Disk2VHD and had to be installed on the computer first, whereas Disk2VHD could be run from a USB drive.
However, it converted SBS2003 with about 90gb of data into a VMware virtual disk (.vmdk) in about 2 hours (Disk2VHD took about 3 hours).
Upon booting up the new virtual machine in VMware Player, it seems to be running great, no issues at all.
One thing to be aware of though is that SBS 2003 recognises the hardware changes and decides that they are quite significant, so you must reactivate SBS 2003 and you are given a massive 3 days to do it in. If you don’t particularly need it for anything but just in case there was something that got missed in the migration, then I’d suggest making a copy of the virtual machine and booting it to test it is fully functional. After testing, just get rid of the copy. Do the same every time you need to boot it, if you don’t want to re-activate it. The reason I suggest this is that the re-activation notification doesn’t occur until the first boot on the new hardware, hence the 3 day timer doesn’t begin until first boot. If the virtual machine has never been booted before, it will never start. If you do need to use it on a regular basis, you might as well just activate it.
Any CAL’s you have installed will also need to be transferred activated again with the hardware changes, if you want to use them. I don’t as the new server looks after all the clients.
Good luck 🙂
I am currently using a copy of the virtual machine to experiment with a few different options for continued use of the old server while still running SBS 2003. This is quite helpful as it means I don’t have to risk screwing anything up more than it already is on the physical server, or removing anything that I may need later on etc.