Migrating Local Account Files and Applications to Your New Network Account
On a PC that was previously using local accounts, you’ll realize that your applications and files are not migrated to your new network account. Back in the days of Windows Server 2012 Essentials, you were automatically shown a dialog that would recommend using an app called Windows Easy Transfer to migrate those files and settings to your new account. That dialog is missing now – principally because Microsoft has deprecated (read: getting rid of) Windows Easy Transfer. Why? Well, because going forward they want you to hold all of your most important files in the Cloud (using their own OneDrive service, of course) rather than store them locally. If everything is in the Cloud, then you can sync that data to your new account. Yes, I know – that’s fine for data but not necessarily applications. Please write to Microsoft about their decision, not me!
There are a plethora of third-party options available on the market to support migration of local Windows accounts to domain accounts – some are commercial applications, some are free with donations requested.
If you have time on your hands and wish to learn a little (actually, a lot of) scripting, then Microsoft’s User State Migration Tool (https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/itpro/windows/deploy/usmt-overview) is an advanced tool for migrating local to domain accounts.
A number of developers have created graphic user interface (GUI) overlays for the User State Migration Tool, allowing a more wizard-based approach to migration. A couple of examples include Workstation Migration Assistant (http://dcunningham.net/applications/workstation-migration-assistant/) compatible up to Windows 8.1 and USMT GUI (http://usmtgui.ehler.dk/) which supports all versions up to Windows 10.
Of course, if it all feels a bit confusing, there’s always the manual route of copying user data from the local account to an external hard drive and copying back to the new domain account – but remember this route only works for data and not application settings.
OK, that takes care of the basics – PCs that support being joined to a domain-controlled network. Cast your mind back to the start of the section, and you’ll remember that it’s not just Windows PCs that can connect to Windows Server Essentials. Apple Macs are supported too – albeit with a subset of features. So what are we going to do with them? Find out in the next part of our guide to Windows Server 2016 Essentials.