Archive for the ‘Windows Server 2012’ Category


Guess I am like the cobbler’s kids who didn’t get their shoes when everyone else did.  I am the last of my clients, save one, to migrate off SBS and onto Windows 2012 R2 Standard.  I thought you could benefit from some of the issues I ran into, and solved.

Here’s my scenario.  Have a Hyper-V server running SBS 2011 as a virtual machine.  Created a new virtual machine and installed Windows 2012 R2, did updates.  Unfortunately, it sat for several months while I finally got a few days to do he migration.  More about that later.

Long ago, I migrated email and SharePoint to Office 365, so I had disabled services and IIS application pools on SBS.  My starting point was to fire them up again in order to remove them.  I did not want AD to migrate with all of those extra objects.

Removing Exchange Server 2008 R2

This did not start off well.  When I launched EMC, it failed to connect to the SBS server.  I ended up putting it aside for a few days but came back to it.  I had tried to guess or remember which services should be started, but I seemed to have failed.  I also only started the Exchange-related application pools.  I easily tracked down an article describing which services start automatically, fired them up, and enabled those that should start manually.  BTW it describes all of SBS services.

That did the trick, and EMC successfully opened.  But I knew that in order to uninstall Exchange, I had to remove the mailboxes.  Fortunately, I had a small number of them.  And to make it easy, I used Exchange PowerShell commands to do this.

Get-Mailbox | Disable-Mailbox
Get-Mailbox -Archive | Disable-Mailbox -Archive
Get-Mailbox -Arbitration | Disable-Mailbox -Arbitration

First, please note that my scenario had with SBS – a single mailbox database and server.  That is why there are no qualifying parameters on the commands.

If your first thought is to use EMC to remove mailboxes, CAUTION!  That method removes both the mailbox AND the user from AD.  If you do want to remove some users and their mailboxes, do that but otherwise use Disable-Mailbox.  There is a Remove-Mailbox command but it also removes both user and mailbox.

So what the first command does is get a list of mailboxes which are piped to the next command.  The second does the same thing but gets the archive mailboxes.  You will then not be surprised the third command gets the arbitration ones.

I tried just getting archive and arbitration mailboxes, but the id names were too long to display in their entirety, so piping was essential.  And easier. And faster.

I then tried to uninstall Exchange but got two failures.  The first block came from Trend Micro Worry Free Advanced that it was using the database and the second was the Offline Address Book in Public Folders.  I uninstalled the messaging agent for Trend Micro but getting rid of the OAB was harder.

First I tried to simply delete the public database but it was not empty (I knew that from the OAB warnings).  I then tried to create a new, empty one to mount but then Exchange would not let me create a second one.  So under Tools, I chose Public Folders and expanded the tree and selected OAB then the firs entry and deleted that.  It was the only entry I could delete.

Luckily, I was then able to uninstall Exchange.

Removing SharePoint

Could not have been easier.  Just uninstall from Control Panel.

Back to Windows 2012 R2

I had already joined the domain and installed Active Directory Services, so I was ready to promote it to a domain controller by starting the configuration on that role.  Just added to the existing domain and it just worked.

I needed a few more roles on this new server, and then trouble started.  I tried to add both Remote Access and Windows Update at the same time and the installation failed.  Separately they also failed.  Again and again.

I cheeked for updates and found plenty and installed and rebooted.  Still no luck in adding roles or features.  I finally found this article which pointed me to a fix.  Note that I modified both policies that it refers to.  After the gpupdate, installation of roles worked fine.

I had not run into this issue before with 2012 R2, so I think it is related to both the GPO settings from SBS 2011 and that AD is at 2008 R2 levels and cannot be promoted until SBS is removed from the domain.

But this puts me well on my way to being where I want to be.

Now I just have to move Worry Free Advanced and get client machines set up under Windows Essentials role.

 Virtual Machines Have Prevented Disasters More than Once

Let me tell you about the latest situation where I look like a hero instead of a fool.  How can you not love someone who does that for you?

I have a client who is still on SBS 2011 for a variety of reasons.  Let’s sum them up by saying it is unlikely to change for a while.

A few years back, I suggested making SBS a virtual machine and running on a Hyper-v host.  The OS for the host was Windows Server 2008 R2.  Earlier this year, both of the USB drives they were using for Windows Backup (one for the host, one for SBS) had to be replaced.  The new drives were formatted NTFS with 4096 byte sectors.  If you don’t know already, Windows Backup in 2008 R2 and earlier can’t create a backup on these targets.  So for a while, the system has been running without backups.

Why not Just Upgrade?

Duh, why didn’t I think of that?  I did, but an inplace upgrade to 2012 R2 kept failing.  Finally, we located a 2012 Standard .iso and license for sale and grabbed that.  The in place upgrade went well, very well.  Much to our chagrin, the product key would not activate even though it was valid, and the client got his money back.  But there we were with an OS that was about to die from lack of activation.

So I tried the upgrade from 2012 to 2012 R2, and it succeeded.  Problem solved, right?

You Probably Picked the Wrong Answer

When it finally rebooted after the upgrade, a colorful blue screen appeared with the message


The scarce number of articles I found relating to this indicated that it was an invalid product key (I knew that) and re-installing would fix it.  So in goes the DVD and we boot from it.  Enter the correct 2012 R2 product key, select upgrade, and we are instructed to remove the disk and reboot.  When we do the same nasty error above appears.

So I Said…

Let’s just forget about the host system and create a new one.  I didn’t format any disks, just let the installation go.  It completed fine, booted into 2012 R2, and I added the Hyper-v role, reset the static IP address, and got down to setting up a new virtual machine.

I pointed to the existing .vhd for SBS and the virtual disks for Exchange, SharePoint, and data that were on physical drives on the host and attached them through ISCSI controllers, started the virtual machine and bingo!  There is was.  Almost.

I Nearly Cried when It First Started

Active directory showed NO users, NO joined computers, and SBS Console said the OS was not operative.  While I played around for a bit, then looked again after about 5-10 minutes, AD values were back!!  But there was no Internet connection and nothing looked right on the SBS Console network tab.

First I ran Connect to the Internet, and that restored the connection.  Then I ran Fix my network, and suddenly there was the trusted certificate and all the other goodies.  It has been running like a champ ever since.

One Last Thing

The 4096 sector drive for SBS still doesn’t work, so I am trying a WD drive that emulates 512 sectors,  I am going to create another post about this, although there is a lot of information on this topic out there already.

So, to sum it up, your Hyper-v host machine is disposable.  You can trash it and provided you don’t lose the date, you can reconstruct your workhorse servers.  I highly recommend this approach.

Even better, use an iSCSI device (like QNAP, which I love as well) and keep all your virtual information on the drives apart from your computer.  That means the entire platform is disposable.