Windows Server upgrade

Upgrading Windows Server 2012 to 2016 Windows Server.

Preparations for Windows Server 2016 upgrade

Make sure the applications are compatible. Since Windows Server 2016 only supports x64 bit operating system, you need to check if the installed programs is x64 bit. If not, it may work improperly after the upgrade.

Ensure all Windows updates are complete and no virtual machines running. If there are any upcoming updates in previous version, such as, Server 2012, the upgrade process may fail.

Verify if your disk has enough space. The minimal space for core installation is 32GB, but you may need more space. Because you may need to install new applications, save files and folders on the system drive in the future. 

To allocate free space, you can use computer management in server or third-party partition manager like AOMEI or other software Partition Assistant Server. Here take later as an example:

  • Select the partition that has much free space and click Allocate Free Space. 

Necessary to backup server 2012 R2 before upgrading 

Unlike upgrading to Windows 10 or other systems, Microsoft does not support rolling back windows server 2016 to 2012 if you perform a in-plance upgrade. So it’s recommended to back up your server with a reliable and easy-to-use software AOMEI Backupper Server.

Step 1. On the main page, click on the “Backup” tab, and then select “System Backup”.

Step 3. In the next screen, the items needed for a system restore is automatically included, and all you need to do is click the folder shaped button to select the target location. It’s suggested to backup Windows Server 2012 to new hard drive, USB drive, network drive, NAS or cloud drives.

Step 4. Confirm the backup information and click “Start Backup” to create system image for Windows Server 2012. 

Except for 2012, this software still supports Windows Server 2003, 2008, 2016, 2019, and 2022 as well as its R2 version, so even if you want to upgrade Windows Server 2012 to 2019, you can use it as a precaution measure, not alone upgrade Windows Server 2012 to 2016. 

And on AOMEI Backupper TechPlus edition, you can use it to backup system on unlimited PCs and servers within a company. To make it more convenient, you can choose to create a portable version of AOMEI Backupper and run it off a flash drive without installing again. 

In-depth guide: upgrade Windows Server 2012 (R2) to 2016 step by step 

Now, you can safely upgrade your Server 2012 after you prepare for Windows Server 2016 upgrade. For detailed steps, please continue to see below. It also applies to upgrade Windows Server 2012 to 2019.

Step 1. Log in to Windows Server 2012 R2 and download the media file from Microsoft, then double-click it to update and install 2016.

Step 2. In the first Setup window, tick “Download and install updates”, and “I want to help make the installation of Windows better”, then click “Next”.

Step 3. Input the product key of the current server and click “Next”. You can go the properties of the server, then scroll down to the product ID and remember it.

Step 4. Select the image you want to install and click “Next.”

Step 5. Read the license terms and click “Accept” to move on.

Step 6. Tick “Keep personal files and apps” and click “Next”. If you don’t choose the right version, the first option will be unavailable.

Note: If you upgrade Windows Server 2012 to 2019, you may receive the error “keep personal files and apps greyed out windows server 2012 r2 to 2019”, that’s because you select a Windows versions different from the one you are currently using.

Step 7. Then, you may see some warning messages and click “Confirm” at the right side.

Note: If there is a message, saying, “Active Directory on this domain controller does not contain Windows Server ADPREP /FORESTPREP updates.”, you need to open cmd and change drive letter of the media file with the following commands.
 E: (This is the drive letter of media file.)
 cd /support/adprep
 adprep.exe /forestprep
 c
 adprep.exe /domainprep
 c

Step 8. Click “Refresh” and then “Install” to start the installation of Windows Server 2016. Wait until the process ends and set up your preferences.

Wait until the process ends and set up your preferences. And then, you can use this operating system to do what you want, if you are not used to it, or the system crashes, you can restore Windows 2012 system image from Windows Server 2016. 

Also, if there is any data loss, you can choose to restore files from backup, even if you don’t create a file backup. In this case, you need to use the Explore Image feature to mount backup image and copy files from them.