Connecting Client PCs to Windows Server Essentials 2016

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 ( 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 ( compatible up to Windows 8.1 and USMT GUI ( 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.



  1. I had to leave a comment to thank you so much for these 4 part series on Windows Server 2016. Very well thought and written. It was a life saver for someone new to the Windows Server world like myself. Incredible job. Many thanks!

  2. I decided to use the “third way” (not joining the domain) in my clients because I access them via RDC when traveling. So they all have static IP addresses with my internet provider DNS servers (adapter Internet Protocol v4 TCP/IPv4 settings). I noticed that when I turn on the server (I just use the server for back ups) all the internet provider DNS in the adapter settings disappear (and of course I start to have problems accessing sites until I put the DNS servers back in). Anybody noticed that problem? Any solution? I spent hours researching the internet without success (I’m not a network expert btw!).

    1. I googled a bit more and I found the solution for the problem here:
      From the article above:
      To skip the automatic DNS detection on a client that is managed by Windows Server Essentials, run the following command on the client computer from an elevated command prompt:
      reg add “HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREMicrosoftWindows ServerNetworkingServerDiscovery” /v SkipAutoDNSServerDetection /t REG_SZ /d true
      You can also change the behavior of all clients that are managed by a Windows Server Essentials server. To do this, run the following command on the Windows Server Essentials server from an elevated command prompt:
      reg add “HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREMicrosoftWindows ServerNetworkingClientDns” /v SkipAutoDnsConfig /t REG_DWORD /d 1

      Life is good!

  3. Hi terry, Thank u for posting the steps. It seems very similar to 12 r2 essentials that i recently setup. I actually followed your above instructions including setting up the client restore option (which i had neglected to setup earlier) for 12 r2. Thank u. One think missing from 12 r2 essentials is dedup. Can you check if it is there is server 16 essentials? It would be under server manager, then the tab server roles, file and iSCSI services, and under it as an option called “data duplication”. If it is there, that would be one benefit to migrate to 2016. Thank you again.

      1. Thanks Terry for checking on it. So it appears that 2016 essentials has that same limitation as 2012 r2 essentials.

  4. Hi Terry, in this article you list the connector as compatible with “MacOS v10.12 Sierra” however in your other article “Connecting Apple Macs to Windows Server 2016 Essentials” you mention specifically that it is not. It may be good to update this article as the connector currently does not work on Sierra.

  5. Hi Terry,

    Thanks for this series. I read it a year ago, but am now planning the migration from WSE 2012-R2 to WSE 2016. I have a couple questions I’m having a hard time finding answers to.

    First, I run both a Windows 8.1 desktop machine for my primary development machine and a few Win10 laptops.

    Today, the client connector on Windows 8.1 machine automatically reconnects to the server and also keeps me signed in so that the shares are available whenever I restart and log into windows. This is very convenient and I hate to lose this behavior.

    After logging into my Windows 10 machines, the connector finds the server ok (for backup purposes) but I have to manually bring up the connector dialog and log in before the shares are accessible. This is problematic as I often forget to do this before I run an application that needs access to data on a share. (Does this have something to do with having joined the domain or not during connector setup?)

    1. Does the WSE 2016 connector automatically reconnect & log in upon logging into your client without having to bring up the connector dialog and enter password to access shares?

    2. Do you know what happens previous client computer backups from WSE 2012 R2 after the upgrade? Can those still be accessed once the migration to WSE 2016?

    Thanks again!


  6. Can a Client running Windows XP join in to windows server 2016, I know win XP is ancient OS but my office still use it

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