Scripted CIFS Shares Migration

I don’t usually blog about Windows Server and Microsoft products in general, but the need for file server migration comes up in my work quite frequently, so I thought I’d make a quick post on that topic.

There are many use cases, it can be migration from a NAS storage array to a Windows Server or between an on-premises file server and cloud. Every such migration involves copying data and recreating shares. Doing it manually is almost impossible, unless you have only a handful of shares. If you want to replicate all NTFS and share-level permissions consistently from source to destination, scripting is almost the only way to go.

Copying data

I’m sure there are plenty of tools that can perform this task accurately and efficiently. But if you don’t have any special requirements, such as data at transit encryption, Robocopy is probably the simplest tool to use. It comes with every Windows Server installation and starting from Windows Server 2008 supports multithreading.

Below are the command line options I use:

robocopy \\file_server\source_folder D:\destination_folder /E /ZB /DCOPY:T /COPYALL /R:1 /W:1 /V /TEE /MT:128 /XD “System Volume Information” /LOG:D:\robocopy.log

Most of them are common, but there are a few worth pointing out:

  • /MT – use multithreading, 8 threads per Robocopy process by default. If you’re dealing with lots of small files, this can significantly improve performance.
  • /R:1 and /W:1 – Robocopy doesn’t copy locked files to avoid data inconsistencies. Default behaviour is to keep retrying until the file is unlocked. It’s important for the final data synchronisation, but for data seeding I recommend one retry and one second wait to avoid unnecessary delays.
  • /COPYALL and /DCOPY:T will copy all file and directory attributes, permissions, as well as timestamps.
  • /XD “System Volume Information” is useful if you’re copying an entire volume. If you don’t exclude the System Volume Information folder, you may end up copying deduplication and DFSR data, which in addition to wasting disk space, will break these features on the destination server.

Robocopy is typically scheduled to run at certain times of the day, preferably after hours. You can put it in a batch script and schedule using Windows Scheduler. Just keep in mind that if you specify the job to stop after running for a certain amount of hours, Windows Scheduler will stop only the batch script, but the Robocopy process will keep running. As a workaround, you can schedule another job with the following command to kill all Robocopy processes at a certain time of the day, say 6am in the morning:

taskkill /f /im robocopy.exe

Duplicating shares

For copying CIFS shares I’ve been using “sharedup” utility from EMC’s “CIFS Tools” collection. To get the tool, register a free account on https://support.emc.com. You can do that even if you’re not an EMC customer and don’t own an EMC storage array. From there you will be able to search for and download CIFT Tools.

If your source and destination file servers are completely identical, you can use sharedup to duplicate CIFS shares in one command. But it’s rarely the case. Often you want to exclude some of the shares or change paths if your disk drives or directory structure have changed. Sharedup supports input and output file command line options. You can generate a shares list first, which you can edit and then import shares to the destination file server.

To generate the list of shares first run:

sharedup \\source_server \\destination_server ALL /SD /LU /FO:D:\shares.txt /LOG:D:\sharedup.log

Resulting file will have records similar to this:

#
@Drive:E
:Projects ;Projects ;C:\Projects;
#
@Drive:F
:Home;Home;C:\Home;

Delete shares you don’t want to migrate and update target path from C:\ to where your data actually is. Don’t change “@Drive:E” headers, they specify location of the source share, not destination. Also worth noting that you won’t see permissions listed anywhere in this file. This file lists shares and share paths only, permissions are checked and copied at runtime.

Once you’re happy with the list, use the following command to import shares to the destination file server:

sharedup \\source_server \\destination_server ALL /R /SD /LU /FI:D:\shares.txt /LOG:D:\sharedup.log

For server local users and groups, sharedup will check if they exist on destination. So if you run into an error similar to the following, make sure to first create those groups on the destination file server:

10:13:07 : WARNING : The local groups “WinRMRemoteWMIUsers__” and “source_server_WinRMRemoteWMIUsers__” do not exist on the \\destination_server server !
10:13:09 : WARNING : Please use lgdup utility to duplicate the missing local user(s) or group(s) from \\source_server to \\destination_server.
10:13:09 : WARNING : Unable to initialize the Security Descriptor translator

Conclusion

I created this post as a personal howto note, but I’d love to hear if it’s helped anyone else. Or if you have better tool suggestions to accomplish this task, please let me know!

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