Migration Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials to Windows Server 2019 Essentials

Copper Contributor

Hello there,

we have a Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials and would like to migrate to Windows Server 2019 Essentials. The documentation does not provide instructions for this scenario. The in-place upgrade is described, but not how to migrate to Windows Server 2019 Essentials on new hardware.


I want to make sure I don't miss any step. The source server has other roles in addition to Active Directory, such as DNS, DHCP, and NPS. These must also be migrated correctly. Also, there is the "Essentials" restriction that only one Essentials server is allowed per network. According to the documentation, there should be a 21-day waiting period, but the documentation applies again to older versions and not to 2019 - so I don't know exactly whether I can even switch both servers online at the same time.


According to the (outdated) documentation, I would now proceed as follows:

  1. Prepare Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials (existing AD DC).
    • adprep
    • forestprep
    • domainprep
    • gpprep.
  2. Freshly install Windows Server 2019 Essentials on new hardware.
    1. Standard configuration of a server:
      • Assign hostname
      • fixed IP assigned
      • Set NTP
    2. Install AD role on Destination Server
    3. Promote Windows Server 2019 as an ADC
  3. Perform replication between both DCs.
  4. Transfer FSMO roles to Windows Server 2019
  5. Transfer all other role configuration files manually from 2012 to 2019. (Here is my biggest uncertainty, because these procedures are not described anywhere).
  6. Remove Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials from all AD services and all other roles.


Maybe you can help me here...

  1. is it correct to assume that I have 21 days to migrate as soon as both servers are on the same network?
  2. How can I migrate the DNS, DHCP and NPS roles?
  3. Is my planned procedure correct at all?

Thank you and have a great time!

5 Replies
best response confirmed by StefanMueller (Copper Contributor)

DNS s an integrated part of active directory so nothing to worry about there. For NPS read on here.

Export an NPS Configuration for Import on Another Server | Microsoft Learn

For DHCP you install the role then you could export from old, import onto new.

Export-DhcpServer (DhcpServer) | Microsoft Learn

Import-DhcpServer (DhcpServer) | Microsoft Learn



Ok, so you suggest to do first an Active Directory Replication by adding the new Server to the old Server Manager and do all Replication Tasks (via the relevant snap-ins). And after that I should continue with NPS and DHCP migration as mentioned in the links, right?

What's about the 21 days.. Are they active when the new server is in the same subnet, or when the new server is in the same domain as the old server?

The 21 day thing was a remnant of migration-mode which doesn't exist going forward. 



@StefanMueller just checking if there's any progress or updates? please don't forget to mark helpful replies



@Dave PatrickThanks for the reminder. Unfortunately I couldn't work at the system over the last few days because it was productive. I actually wanted to try it first before answering, as other questions on the subject might arise during the migration.