Four tools in the new OS bring you greater control over your file structure
One of the first articles I wrote for Windows IT Pro—“Let’s Get Organized: File Server Basics” (InstantDoc ID 95354)—discussed some time-tested methods for getting the most out of your file server. If your data is scattered all over your network, or your file system security is all over the place, or your folder structure is a mess, that article provides some good ideas for organizing your file server. Now that Windows Server 2008 R2 has been out in the wild for some time, I thought I’d revisit this topic, update it for Microsoft’s newest OS, and talk about some of the great tools you can use for migration and file-server management.
Before you can even get started using your new Server 2008 R2 server, you need to migrate your data from the old server. Don’t underestimate this process. I’m always surprised by how many administrators don’t take the time to plan their migration. Many servers have hundreds of gigabytes—if not terabytes—of data that can take a long time to copy from one server to another. If you use drive mappings (most companies do), you’ll need to change them to reflect the new file server name (unless you name it the same as the old server). You also need to consider that many users have created their own shortcuts to the UNC path (\\Server\Share), and that you’ll invalidate all their links if you change the name of the file server. These are just some of the challenges you’ll face when your shiny new server arrives on your front doorstep.
Fortunately, you don’t have to go it alone. The File Server Migration Toolkit (FSMT) is a free Microsoft tool that helps you migrate any Microsoft file server to Server 2008. You can find it at www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=d00e3eae-930a-42b0-b595-66f462f5d87b. The FSMT comes in both 32-bit and 64-bit versions, so be sure to download the correct file. After you download the 1.3MB file, you’re ready to test it in your lab. I highly recommend kicking the tires on a non-production server before going for broke on something as important as your company’s files.
The application walks you through the complete migration process, from setting up shares on the new server to ensuring that all the data has been copied before going live. It even shuts down the old file shares when the time is right. Figure 1 shows you what this process looks like.
One extremely cool FSMT feature is the Distributed File System (DFS) Consolidation Root, which lets your users continue to use their old UNC paths even after the old server is long gone. For a walkthrough of a sample migration, check out the sidebar "A Simple File Server Migration."