What to expect for a Windows Server Migration?

If you ever need to upgrade the hardware on your Windows server, Liquid Web’s Windows team is happy to help you through the migration process. While it is not the most simple process, keeping in communication with our Heroic Support teams will help make things go smoothly. Before beginning a Windows server migration it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the overall process so you know what to expect.

Things to Consider

There are a few things to keep in mind when starting a migration. Review the items listed here to make sure you’re prepared for the process.

  • Migrations are not simple, and can take time.
    Depending on a variety of factors, including the amount of data being migrated, the stability of the original server, or other unforeseeable issues, a typical migration can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. It is best to plan for this process to take a few weeks. Rest assured we will be in contact with you the entire time, keeping you updated as the migration progresses.
  • Once the backup is started, refrain from making configuration changes to the original server.
    While website, database, and email data can be migrated over after the initial backup is performed, some other configurations like IIS configurations cannot. If you absolutely must make a change, please let us know so we can make the change on the destination server as well.
  • Communication is key.
    Liquid Web will need to communicate with you during the migration. We do our best to ensure that the migration will go as smooth as possible. Part of this process is communication. Before starting the migration, we will need to gather a all-inclusive list of items to migrate. We will review your server and work with you to ensure that we don’t miss anything along the way. You can expect us to send you a pre-migration form containing questions that are crucial to the migration process.
  • Testing is critical.
    Due to the many differences between each server, we cannot guarantee the functionality of each item. Given the complexity involved, we ask you to verify that items work correctly before the destination server is live. We will however investigate any issues that you come across during the testing phase of the migration.

Before the Migration

Before your migration begins it’s usually a good idea to: clean up unneeded, review and prepare your DNS changes, and consider any other systems that may be affected by the migration.

  • Delete unneeded data from the server.
    This includes email, site data, or databases. The less you have to migrate, the less time it will take. Email messages especially take a long time to migrate.
  • Lower your the TTLs on your Domain’s DNS
    If you are moving to a new IP addresses, make sure the TTLs are lowered on your domains’ DNS. Remember, DNS takes some time to propagate. Lowing TTL values will help bring your new server live much quicker. Please take note of your current TTL values, so that they may be restored after the migration is complete. We are here to help you with this process and will be glad to answer any questions you may have.

During the Migration

When the migration itself gets underway, the Windows team will determine which migration methods will work best for you. During this process there may be questions along the way. As every migration is different, there may be times when we will need to stop services, however we will be sure to communicate and schedule a time that works best for you.

Testing Your Sites

After a migration is completed you will have time to test your sites. If you are moving to new IP addresses, there are a few methods you can use:

Testing your sites and applications is key to a successful migration. Only someone who has used your existing server can verify that everything is working as intended. During testing it is normal to experience some troubles. We will work with you to correct any issues. Simply reply to your migration ticket with steps to reproduce any problems you are seeing and will will do our best to correct those issues.

Final Sync and IP Swap

After you have tested your sites and applications on the new server and found them to be working, we will then schedule the DNS update or IP swap as well as the final data sync. If we have control over DNS, then we will update that for you when scheduled; if not, we will rely on you to make that change.

At the same time that either the DNS is being updated or the IP is being swapped, we will start the final sync. Website content, data, and mail will be copied over. (The mail final sync only works if both servers are running the same mail service.) Only content that is newer than the initial migration will be synced. Plesk or IIS settings on the new server will not be updated. During the services on the originating server will be turned off to make sure that no data is lost.

 Migration Process Summary

We have covered a lot, so here are a few key things to remember:

  • Keeping in touch with Windows team members will help make the whole process smooth.
  • Cleaning up and removing unneeded data before you start is always helpful.
  • Do not make changes on the originating server once the migration process has started.
  • All downtime will be scheduled and discussed beforehand.
  • DNS changes take time to propagate, so lowering your TTLs in advance can help speed this up.
  • Always test your sites, always.
Be Sociable, Share!

About the Author: Dan Pock

Dan Pock does Technical Writing & Marketing at Liquid Web with a background in System Administration, Public Relations, and Customer Service.

His favorite things include: his cats, Oscar Boots and Dash Nouget; experimenting with PHP; and making up recipes (or at least attempting to). You can find his coding hijinks on GitHub, where he shares most of his projects and open source work.

Here's 75 % off, Launch a New VPS Today. Find out why 30,000 customers have chosen our Best-in-Class Performance & 24x7 Heroic Support