RMS to AD RMS Migration and Upgrade Guide

Applies To: Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2003 R2, Windows Server 2003 with SP1, Windows Server 2003 with SP2, Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2012, Windows Server 2012 R2

Windows® Rights Management Services can either be migrated or upgraded to Active Directory Rights Management Services (AD RMS). Migrating RMS is the process of installing AD RMS on a new Windows Server® 2008– or Windows Server 2008 R2–based server and then joining it to an existing RMS cluster. Upgrading is the process of doing an in-place upgrade of an existing RMS server in the cluster to AD RMS.

About this guide

This guide is intended for IT professionals who are interested in migrating or upgrading their existing RMS infrastructure to AD RMS. Using the checklists provided in this guide, you should be able to seamlessly move your infrastructure from RMS to AD RMS.


This guide was originally written to cover migrating a RMS infrastructure that is running under to Windows Server 2008 or Windows Server 2008 R2 and is still applicable as the supported path for migration from RMS to AD RMS.

While a direct upgrade from Windows RMS running on Windows Server 2003 to AD RMS running on Windows Server 2012 or Windows Server 2012 R2 is supported and the steps are similar to those needed to upgrade from Windows Server 2008 to Windows Server 2008 or Windows Server 2008 R2, the detailed process is not covered in this guide, and if you follow this guide you should make the upgrade in the two steps:, and then.

  1. Upgrading from Windows Server 2003 to Windows Server 2008 or 2008 R2

  2. From the upgraded platform in Step 1, upgrade to Windows Server 2012 or 2012 R2 via an in-place upgrade.

To do so, after completing the upgrade of your operating system for any servers running the AD RMS server role, you will need to do the following tasks for upgrade:

First, run the AD RMS Upgrade wizard to upgrade your AD RMS cluster and ensure consistency. Otherwise, your AD RMS cluster might not be in a consistent state. The other important consideration when upgrading that you should be aware of is that if the Windows Internal Database (WID) was previously selected for use to support your AD RMS database needs, that configuration will block your upgrade to Windows Server 2012 and require you to take additional steps. To unblock your upgrade to Windows Server 2012 you must first uninstall the AD RMS server role and migrate the existing WID instance to a SQL Server instance. For more information, see Migrating the AD RMS database from Windows Internal Database to SQL Server 2005 SP2.