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This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

Upgrading to Windows Server 2012

When upgrading an existing server to Windows Server 2012, all configuration settings, files, and programs are retained from the previous installation. However, there are still several important required tasks that you perform before the upgrade, as discussed in the following sections.

Backing Up the Server

When making a major change on a server, something could go wrong. A complete backup of your operating system and data, including the system state, can make the difference between confidently telling the boss you had a setback and so you conducted a rollback or trying to find a way to tell your boss a complete disaster has taken place.

Verifying System Compatibility

In the past, you could check system compatibility before starting an upgrade. Now, it is a best practice to use the Microsoft Application Compatibility Toolkit to verify Windows Server 2012 compatibility before an installation. The tool can be accessed from the following Microsoft link: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/aa905066.aspx.

Running the Windows Memory Diagnostics Tool

As a prerequisite task, it is also beneficial to test the physical memory in the server before conducting the upgrade. Do the test by running the Windows Memory Diagnostics tool. The tool can be executed by booting into the Advance Boot Options on your server using the F8 button or by opening the system recovery options using boot media.

Ensuring the Drivers Are Digitally Signed

Microsoft started certifying drivers for plug-and-play devices during the release of Windows 2000 Server to stabilize the operating system. When installing drivers, an administrator had the opportunity to choose from digitally signed drivers or unsigned drivers. Digitally signed drivers ensure stability; however, it was also possible to install unsigned drivers. The unsigned drivers were not blessed or certified by Microsoft.

When upgrading to Windows Server 2012, an error message is displayed when unsigned drivers are detected. In addition, the unsigned driver will not be loaded when the operating system is upgraded and finally rebooted. Based on these issues, it is a best practice to obtain only digitally signed drivers, upgrade unsigned drivers, or disable the signature requirement for a driver if you cannot boot your computer after the upgrade.

The following procedures should be used to disable the signature requirement on Windows Server 2012:

  1. Reboot the server and press Shift+F8 during startup.
  2. Select Disable Driver Signature Enforcement.
  3. Boot into Windows.
  4. Uninstall the unsigned driver.

Performing Additional Tasks

It is also beneficial to perform the following additional tasks before proceeding with the installation upgrade. Disconnect UPS devices as they negatively affect installation when detecting devices on serial ports, disable antivirus software as it might affect this installation process, and obtain drivers for the mass storage devices from the manufacturers.

Performing the Upgrade

At this point, your data is backed up, you have verified compatibility with the new operating system, and you have read the release notes. It’s time to upgrade, so complete the following steps:

  1. Log on to the server and insert the Windows Server 2012 media. The Install Windows page should automatically launch; otherwise, click Setup.exe.
  2. Click Install Now to begin the upgrade process.
  3. On the Get important updates for Windows Setup page, first select the I Want to Help Make Windows Install Better option. By doing this, you will participate in the Windows Installation Customer Experience Improvement Program that allows Microsoft to collect information about the hardware configuration, installation settings, and errors received. This information helps Microsoft determine whether updates are needed and identify areas of improvement.
  4. On the same page, select either Go Online to Get the Latest Updates for Setup (recommended) or Don’t Get the Latest Updates for Setup, as shown in Figure 3.5.

    Figure 3.5

    Figure 3.5. Getting important updates for the Windows Server 2012 installation.

  5. On the Select the Operating System You Want to Install page, select the desired operating system, such as Windows Server 2012 Enterprise (Full Installation). Click Next to continue.

  6. Review the license terms and select the I Accept the License Terms option, and then click Next.
  7. On the Which Type of Installation Do You Want page, select the Upgrade option. Upgrading the system maintains existing files, settings, and programs.
  8. The Compatibility report page is invoked, as illustrated in Figure 3.6. This screen includes a warning that it is a best practice to visit the following Microsoft link, http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkID=85172, to ensure all programs are supported and can remain installed during the installation. It is recommended to uninstall any applications that are not supported. Click Next to continue.

    Figure 3.6

    Figure 3.6. The Windows Setup compatibility report.

  9. The upgrade process commences and the Upgrading Windows page displays status on the following items: Copying Windows files, Collecting files, settings and apps, Expanding Windows files, Installing features and updates, and Almost done moving files, settings and programs.

The process for completing the installation and conducting post-installation tasks is the same for an upgrade as a new installation except that some settings may have been preserved during the upgrade process. In addition, after the upgrade is complete, it is a best practice to use Server Manager to review the event-log events, verify that system services are operational, and ensure the upgraded server roles were, in fact, installed and configured correctly. In addition, the Best Practices Analyzer (BPA) section of the Local Server view can be used to execute a BPA scan to get additional information about recommended configurations, tasks, and best practices.

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