Poor Man’s Consolidation Toolkit

If you can't use the third-party utilities mentioned in this article, don't lose hope: You can still take steps to ease your consolidation burden. In the case of file-server migrations, the key concerns are preserving network shares, local user and group accounts, and file-system structures, ACLs, and ownership. In each case, you can use built-in Windows NT 4.0 tools to help you consolidate resources on multiple servers. The first tool that you might consider is the Microsoft Windows NT Server 4.0 Resource Kit Security Copy (Scopy) utility, an enhanced utility that can preserve file and directory security and ownership during copy operations. However, my experience with Scopy has proved that this utility isn't the fastest or most robust copy tool available. For example, several times Scopy inexplicably ignored or failed to copy files. Therefore, you might want to try another NT resource kit gem called Robocopy. Like Scopy, Robocopy can copy NTFS security information. However, Robocopy provides options for retrying failed file copies, scheduling features for off-hours copy operations, and capabilities for directory synchronization.

You can also use a simple but very cool trick to preserve the set of file and print shares on an NT server and later reimport these shares to another server. Simply fire up regedit.exe and navigate to the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\ CurrentControlSet\Services\LanmanServer\Shares subkey. This subkey stores the names and paths attached to each of the server's shares. Highlight the Shares subkey and use the Export Registry File option in the Registry menu to save this key to a file (the file will have a .reg extension by default), as Screen A shows. To reimport this information on a target server (after you've moved the file-system resources and reinstalled the printer drivers on the target system), log on as an Administrator on the target server and double-click the saved .reg file. However, this process doesn't let you preserve the previously existing shares on the target server—the process will overwrite those shares after you double-click the .reg file and enter it in the Registry. Therefore, this procedure works best when used on a target system that has little or no existing share information (e.g., a new server that you want to use in a many-to-one server consolidation). If you decide to overwrite the target machine's shares configuration, yet you want to preserve the contents of the target machine's Shares key before the overwrite, then save the contents of the existing Shares key before loading the new .reg file's contents. Also, check the newly imported Shares key and any subkeys to verify that all the information is correct and to confirm that referenced security principals, directories, and printers exist on the target system. No confirmation prompt or undo capability exists, so think before you click. And, as always, be sure you have a good backup before proceeding with any Registry-related activity.

Finally, to preserve user and group information when consolidating member servers (i.e., the servers that contain local user accounts or groups independent of the domain), you can use the AddUsers utility from the resource kit. (This step is unnecessary when the servers in question are domain controllers.) The AddUsers utility lets you save users and groups from the local SAM database to a file and later use that file to reimport the information to another machine. For example, I've used this utility with many of my clients who have migrated from workgroup to domain configurations. In a migration, run AddUsers on the target member server system to reimport the saved user and group accounts from the source member server(s). A lot of the information that AddUsers saves will end up as duplications on the target system. Although the software will ignore duplications during the import, you might want to take an extra step and manually clean up the AddUsers-created file before the import. The file is a plaintext file, so you can perform the cleanup in Notepad or the text editor of your choice. The file format is fairly basic, and AddUsers divides the file into separate sections for users, local groups, and global groups (the latter on domain controllers).

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