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If you have virtual machine VM instances running earlier versions of Windows Server, you can upgrade them to later versions of Windows Server:. This guide describes how to perform a manual in-place upgrade of Windows Server. There is no charge for performing an in-place upgrade of Windows Server. You are only charged for the resources consumed during the upgrade, including:. Use the pricing calculator to generate a cost estimate based on your projected usage. Performing an in-place upgrade of a virtual machine VM instance that is running an earlier version of Windows Server can be a pragmatic way to modernize your infrastructure and to mitigate the risks of approaching the end of the support lifecycle of Windows Server versions.
Before you decide to use an in-place upgrade to migrate to a newer version of Windows Server, be aware of the following limitations:. Downtime: Depending on the configuration and software installed, the upgrade might take an hour or longer. During the upgrade, access to the VM instance is limited because:. Risk: Depending on the configurations of your existing instances and the installed software:. Depending on the workload running on your Windows Server instance, you can reduce downtime and risk by pursuing different approaches.
A Windows Server product key is valid for only a specific version; when you perform an upgrade to a later version of Windows Server, you must supply a new product key. There are two primary scenarios:. You are upgrading a VM instance that is based on a public operating system image provided by Google: In this scenario, you must use the predefined KMS client setup keys for the version of Windows Server that you are upgrading to.
The upgrade does not incur additional charges. You are upgrading a VM instance for which you brought an existing license: In BYOL , you need to acquire a product key from your license vendor to perform the upgrade.
Check the Microsoft documentation to determine which edition you can upgrade to and whether you are eligible for license conversion. You are upgrading a VM instance that is based on a public operating system image provided by Google: In this scenario, you can use the volume license installation media provided by Google. The steps to access this installation media are provided below. You are upgrading a VM instance that is based on an imported disk or image: In this scenario, you cannot use the installation media provided by Google.
Instead, you have to use an installation media that matches the type of media that you used to install Windows Server on the imported disk or image. Before you begin your upgrade, review the Microsoft documentation about prerequisites and potential limitations for the version of Windows Server you are planning to upgrade to:.
Verify that your VM instance meets the system requirements for Windows Server and has sufficient free disk space. Review recommendations for upgrading server roles , known issues , and the upgrade process for Windows Server R2.
Review the recommendations for planning an in-place upgrade. Verify that you aren’t affected by features removed or deprecated in Windows Server R2. Verify that any of your custom or third-party software is compatible with Windows Server R2. Review the server role upgrade and migration matrix for Windows Server and application compatibility table. Verify that you aren’t affected by features removed or planned for replacement in Windows Server Review the Windows Server and Microsoft Server application compatibility list.
Before you start the upgrade, we recommend that you create a snapshot of your VM instance , so that you can revert to a safe state in case anything goes wrong:. Create a regular snapshot for the boot disk of your VM instance. Verify that Windows Server is up to date by using Windows Update. Disable or uninstall antivirus, antispyware, and other agents that can interfere with the upgrade or are incompatible with the Windows Server version that you’re upgrading to.
Before you can perform the upgrade, attach the necessary installation media to the VM instance. The right media to use depends on your scenario:. You are upgrading a VM instance that is based on an imported disk or image: In this scenario, you also need to attach the volume license installation media provided by Google so that you can access the necessary scripts. Additionally, you have to attach a custom installation media that matches the type of media that you used to install Windows Server on the imported disk or image.
Go to the Google Cloud console. Set the default project ID. Create a disk based on the installation media. This command adds a disk named win-installers to your project. This disk is not attached to any VM instance. Attach the disk to your VM instance by using read-only ro mode, so that you can attach the disk to multiple VM instances if necessary:.
If you are upgrading a VM instance that is based on an imported disk or image, attach the custom installation media as an additional disk:. Follow the steps in Creating an image from an ISO file to create a disk from the ISO image that you want to use as custom installation media. Attach the disk to your VM instance, by using read-only ro mode so that you can attach the disk to multiple VM instances if necessary:. By default, Windows Setup prompts you for input at various points during an upgrade.
Because you can’t connect to the VM instance by using RDP during the upgrade and therefore can’t provide any input, run the upgrade in unattended mode. For more information, see Connecting to instances. Change the working directory to the installation media. The correct working directory depends on the Windows Server version that you are upgrading to:.
Start the Windows upgrade. The required steps to start the upgrade depend on the Windows Server version that you are upgrading to and whether your VM instance is based on a public operating system image or on an imported disk or image:. Run upgrade. The script completes the following steps:.
On the Select Image screen, select the configuration that matches your current configuration:. Depending on the machine type of your VM instance and your Windows Server configuration, the upgrade might take between 10 and 60 minutes to complete.
During that time, you can observe the status through the serial port output :. Wait until the machine has rebooted four times. Depending on the configuration of your VM instance, it might take 30 minutes or more for these reboots to occur. You can recognize a reboot by output that looks similar to this:. After the fourth reboot, wait until the output GCEMetadataScripts: Finished running startup scripts or No startup scripts to run appears. You can now connect to the VM instance to verify that the upgrade has been successfully completed.
Restart the VM instance to ensure all changes take effect. It might take 1 to 2 minutes for the reboot to complete before you can connect to the VM instance again. Connect to the machine by using an RDP client. Use Windows Update to install the latest Windows updates. You might have to restart the VM instance multiple times during this process. If you suspect that the upgrade failed or is not progressing, use the following approaches, in order, to diagnose the situation:.
To check the progress of the upgrade process, view the serial port output of the VM instance:. During the upgrade, you should observe four reboots. If you don’t observe any progress for more than 30 minutes after the first reboot, it is likely that the upgrade failed. Go to VM instances. Using the EMS console, check the Windows Setup log files and the event log for indications that the upgrade is still progressing or for information about any errors that might have occurred.
When prompted for credentials, enter the username and password of an administrative user account. Use the remote PowerShell session to check the Windows Setup log files and the event log. If you can’t connect to the instance by using Windows Remote Management WinRM , you can cancel the upgrade and analyze the log files from a different VM instance. To do this, follow these steps:. Stop the VM instance.
Detach the boot disk from the instance. Create a new, temporary Windows Server instance, and attach the boot disk of the original instance as an additional disk. Use the temporary Windows Server instance to analyze the setup log and event log files of the instance that you were trying to upgrade. After you have completed the analysis, detach the disk from the temporary instance and reattach it as a boot disk to the original VM instance.
For information about troubleshooting your Windows Server instances, see Tips and troubleshooting for Windows instances. To avoid incurring further costs after you have completed this process, delete the installation disk. You can create an installation disk based on the Google-provided image at any time.
If you don’t plan to upgrade more VM instances in the same zone, delete the installation disk:. In Cloud Shell, delete the win-installers disk that you created earlier:. Learn how to bring existing licenses to Compute Engine. Learn how to connect to Windows instances.
Learn about sole-tenant nodes on Compute Engine. Work through more Windows tutorials. Except as otherwise noted, the content of this page is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4. For details, see the Google Developers Site Policies. Why Google close Discover why leading businesses choose Google Cloud Whether your business is early in its journey or well on its way to digital transformation, Google Cloud can help you solve your toughest challenges. Learn more.
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