Windows Server 2016 Migration – Tips, Tools & Tricks

 Migration to Windows Server 2016 - no jump in the deep end.

Migration to Windows Server 2016 doesn’t have to be a jump in the deep end. Take a look at our tips and tools.

Microsoft’s server operating system, Windows Server 2016, has now been proving its worth for over a year in productive use with an ever-increasing number of customers. Server 2012/2012 R2’s mainstream support will also end in fall 2018. So, is it time to migrate to Server 2016? And what needs to be considered?

Of course, migration is always a cost factor and it is important to consider whether the benefits justify the effort and if there are any alternatives. Since many applications are already offered as cloud services, it is possible to evaluate and calculate whether you want to go directly into the cloud before migration and save yourself license costs (with 2016, core-based) as well as possible new hardware purchases.

Since migrating to the latest server operating system does not have to be performed for all servers in the domain, it certainly makes sense to consider application areas individually. For example, if you have virtualized Windows servers or run them as clusters you can benefit from many innovations. Particularly interesting here is the new Nano server deployment variant and the Windows server containers and Hyper-V containers created by working with Docker.

Windows Server 2016 has many other features, especially in terms of security, which clearly demonstrate that Microsoft wants to make a significant impact in the cloud and data center server market. Here you can read more about the new features in Windows Server 2016.

What Pitfalls to Watch Out for When Migrating to Windows Server 2016?

While Windows Server 2012/2012 R2 can be updated directly to Windows Server 2016, and an installation wizard checks some areas before updating, this is by no means a guarantee of success. Microsoft recommends a new installation, but many users report that in most cases an inplace installation was just as successful.

First of all, it is important to test whether the applications, drivers or system programs running on the server are compatible with Windows Server 2016.

One of the more difficult tasks is creating a clear plan, so that the servers, especially single servers, can be pulled up without end users noticing anything or the productive operation being disturbed.

Tools for Migration

Depending on the previous operating system and the server roles to be migrated, different methods and printer migration tools (for example Microsoft Printer Migration Wizard) are recommended. Microsoft offers instructions for a range of different scenarios here.

Print Server Migration to Windows Server 2016

What needs to be considered when migrating a print server to Server 2016? Here too, it is important to consider whether you want to set up the system again or carry out an inplace migration. In principle, the printing system in Windows Server 2016 has not changed much compared to 2012 R2.

Nevertheless, there are a number of points that should be checked carefully. Experience has shown that over time, many print objects and associated printer drivers accumulate on print servers. While a print object that is no longer needed is quickly deleted, the orphaned printer drivers often remain in the system. Before migrating, you should therefore perform a driver cleanup. In addition, existing 32-bit drivers can be a problem.

Depending on the number of print objects, reinstalling a print server can take a lot of work. In order to minimize this effort, Microsoft provides a backup tool via the print management system, which enables you to export all print objects including the associated drivers and approvals to a file. This file can be imported to the new server, which restores all print objects.

Microsoft backup tool

When migrating to Windows Server 2016, a Microsoft backup tool enables you to export all print objects, including the associated drivers and shares, to a file.However, this method has a number of disadvantages:

  • There is no way to exclude print objects.
  • Driver updates are therefore not possible and must be done later if necessary.
  • No 3rd-party print monitors are backed up. Restoring print objects that use such ports therefore fails. However, these ports are often a prerequisite for pull printing or accounting solutions.


If this is the case, check whether the application has its own export/import function for the print monitors. If you restore the ports before the backup file is imported, they will also be connected to the corresponding print objects. So, they only need to be available.

Much more flexible than the pure Microsoft option is a combination with PowerShell. The generated export file is an excellent source for script-controlled creation of print objects.

This is one of the reasons why ThinPrint has developed its PowerShell-based Management Services. There are already numerous sample scripts available that are easy to edit and customize.

More details on its structure and how it works can be found in the product description of ThinPrint Management Services on the website and also in the ThinPrint Management Services manual.

If you are interested in Windows Server 2016 migration, we also recommend that you take a look at the recording of our webinar: Windows Server 2008 Print Servers – It’s Time to Migrate.

Windows Server 2016 has been in use for over a year now. If you are also considering migrating, you can discover what you need to know here.

By the way, if you have already used ThinPrint 11 with failover or load balancing, you will find updating print servers without any downtime extremely easy. No matter if you want to set up a new server or perform an inplace installation, thanks to the maintenance mode and dynamic moving of mappings, you can even perform tests and migration during normal working hours.

Mike Schiffel Avatar
Mike Schiffel
Mike Schiffel has over 25 years of experience with office and high-volume printing solutions. With stations at Kodak and Ricoh, his knowledge gained as a system application engineer allows him to have a perfect understanding of the requirements and demands in this complex and dynamic area. Since 2012 Mike has been a consultant, and team leader, at ThinPrint’s Berlin headquarters.