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When you are installing Windows Server 2012, besides the option of a clean install, you also have the ability to upgrade or migrate existing server installations. Upgrading is one of the options available for Microsoft. This is the most complicated type of installation to do. It is likely to cause problems for you, if you attempt it. For this reason Microsoft generally recommends against it, and suggests that you do a clean install instead of trying to upgrade. Migrating is a much more common and much more reliable way to transfer data from an older server to a newer server.
It moves vital information from older servers to 2012. However, you must do a separate migration for each role on a server. What this means, is if you have a server running multiple roles, you have to do a separate migration for each role. You cannot migrate all your roles at once. For migrating, there is no single procedure that migrates all server rules. Every role has a different procedure, that you have to follow. For this reason, Microsoft provides migration guides inside the migration tool to guide you through whatever migration you are trying to migrate.
Additionally, you get more up to date migration guides that are published on Microsoft's Tech Net website. There are several types of migrations that are possible, the first type is between versions. If you have a server 2003, service pack two or higher, you can migrate from that. You can also migrate between editions of Server 2012. It is important to note that you cannot upgrade from a lower edition to a higher edition like, you can with Workstation.
If you're going from a lower edition to a higher edition, you have to perform a migration. A third type of migration, is migrating between a physical server and a virtual server. Or from a physical machine to a virtual machine. This is done often when a company is in the process of transitioning from running physical servers, to putting all their servers in virtual machines on one or two large virtual servers. Finally, if you are using Server 2008 release two or higher, you can migrate between Server Core and GUI.
However, anything lower than 2008 release two, you can only migrate from a Core to a Core or from a GUI to a GUI. There are some requirements for migrating. First, you need to make sure that the migration role has been installed on Server 2012. Second, you need to make sure that correct migration rule is installed on the older server you are migrating from. Finally, once you have installed the migration roles on both computers involved in the migration, you need to use the PowerShell cmdlet to execute the migration you have just set up.
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