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No direct, in-place upgrade path from Server 2012 Essentials to Essentials R2


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It's official. Today I tried to do an in-place upgrade of my EX487 running Server 2012 Essentials to Server 2012 Essentials R2. Setup lets me get right up to the point where I'm presented with the two choices: Upgrade and Custom (advanced). I chose Upgrade, and immediately received the compatibility report with the following problem:


Windows Server 2012 Essentials cannot be upgraded to Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials. You can choose to install a new copy of Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials instead, but this is different from an upgrade, and does not keep your files, settings, and programs. You’ll need to reinstall any programs using the original installation discs or files. To save your files before installing Windows, back them up to an external location such as a CD, DVD, or external hard drive. To install a new copy of Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials, click the Back button in the upper left-hand corner, and select “Custom (advanced)”.


This is a big, big disappointment. Are the changes between Essentials "R1" and R2 so profound that I can't simply upgrade?


The official documentation says I can upgrade but have to do so as a migration. This poses a problem because I don't have another server to migrate to. My EX490 is running Server 2012 (and functioning as a domain controller so I have an Active Directory backup), which serves as a file share and media streaming box. I have another box running as a Hyper-V host and a fourth which is serving as a development and testing box, and is also the server where end-user debug reports come in when WindowSMART 2013 and Home Server SMART generate them.


Migrating requires a fair amount of manual work to stand up a new box with Server 2012 Essentials R2--especially because the box I want to use for 2012 Essentials R2 is the one that needs to be migrated. That means I need to migrate twice! Once to a temporary box, and then once again back to the original box. Migrating Active Directory might be easy, but migrating terabytes of backups is less than easy.


Big, big disappointment.

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Yep, heard this from SBS Diva.  No upgrade for R2.  I agree it is a bad decision but since they are marketing it as a different SKU, it is not real surprising.  I have installed it this weekend in a test server (physical machine) and I am preparing to do the migration.  I am just planning to build a box up, get it running than port my data over,  I do not have the complications of having an existing Essentials setup but if I did I would be upset as well.  They have implemented many changes but I agree if they wanted to they could have provided for an upgrade but they just do not want to.  Maybe since they are in the mode of making decisions and then changing them, they will do the same here.  One can hope.

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I suppose I could spin up a Hyper-V VM on my Hyper-V box, build a 2012 R2 server, migrate AD and then rebuild the EX487 and migrate back to it. I guess I could junk the backups, since we use CrashPlan so my data is all backed up--and would have an in-home backup within a few days anyway. I just like having the backup history. There are occasions I want to go back to an Outlook PST as it existed several months ago, and being able to pull a local instance is faster than getting it from the cloud.


Gives me something to ponder.

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In reading this TechNet article (http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dn408641.aspx) on migrating to 2012 R2 Essentials, it would seem Microsoft has made up my mind about backups for me:


"Client Computer Backup folder cannot be migrated to the destination server. Before the server migration, make sure all the client computers are healthy. After the server migration, it is recommended that you configure and start client computer backups to ensure that the data is backed up for all your important client computers."


I guess the backups are getting junked if I want to run R2...

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Not surprising at all. I expected as much.


IIRC, all the "SBS" products have been the same. No inplace upgrade, you have to migrate.


And as for the backups, the same has been true for a while. Always have to wipe.... WHSv1->WHS2011/SBS2011E/WSSE->WS2012E, and now ->WS2012R2E

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I usually start with a clean slate on backups anyhow.  As long as I can "read" the older backups in the event of an emergency I do not mind starting over as it usually saves you pain.  That said, what this tells me is to be safe you want or need a new box.

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I just thought of another problem this morning. When I built my WS2012 Essentials box earlier this year, it asked me to give the domain a name. Windows tacked on ".local" to the name, so my domain name is ParietalBone.local.


For those of you who follow things in the SSL world, using NetBIOS and ".local" in SSL is a big no-no. Most reputable certificate authorities won't even issue certificates that use .local domain names or NetBIOS names, and I believe any such certificate with a validity period beyond 2015 must be revoked.


Looks like I'm going to have to rebuild my domain from scratch. I don't want something that I could never get an SSL cert for at a later date.  :(

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