Remote Desktop Services Migration: Overview

Applies To: Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2008 R2

This guide provides an overview of the Remote Desktop Services migration and what will be migrated for Remote Desktop Services role services, tasks that apply to migrating all the role services, and the migration process.

The overview topics contain the steps that are required to migrate all role services. These steps are not repeated in the topics for specific role services. The overview also contains information about supported operating systems, order of migration, dependencies, expected downtime, impact on other role services, and permissions required for migration.

About this guide


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Target audience

This guide is intended for the following audiences:

  • IT architects who are responsible for computer management and security throughout an organization

  • IT operations engineers who are responsible for the day-to-day management and troubleshooting of networks, servers, client computers, operating systems, or applications

  • IT operations managers who are accountable for network and server management

What will be migrated

When you migrate the Remote Desktop Services role services, you will be migrating the following:

  • RD Session Host

    • Registry settings, including cache pointers and some session data
  • RD Virtualization Host

    • RD Virtualization Host servers

    • Virtual machines

  • RD Connection Broker

    • Virtual desktop pool settings

    • Personal virtual desktop settings

    • RemoteApp sources

    • RD Session Host servers

    • Terminal servers

    • Registry settings

  • RD Web Access

    • Paths to other role services

    • Security settings

    • RemoteApp sources

  • RD Licensing

    • Terminal Services client access licenses (TS CALs) and Remote Desktop Services client access licenses (RDS CALs)
  • RD Gateway

    • Remote Desktop connection authorization policies (RD CAPs)

    • Remote Desktop resource authorization policies (RD RAPs)

    • RD Gateway server properties

What is not migrated

This guide does not cover migration of the following:

  • Customizations made to any Remote Desktop Services role service. In particular, this may apply to the RD Session Host, RD Virtualization Host, RD Web Access, or RD Connection Broker role services.

  • Third-party application settings, programs, or plugins

  • More than one server role at the same time

  • More than one role service at a time

  • Group Policy settings

  • User profiles, including roaming profiles

  • Event history

  • Microsoft applications or application settings

  • RD Session Host servers or terminal servers in a farm environment

  • RD Connection Broker or TS Session Broker servers configured in a clustered or load-balanced environment

  • RD Session Host servers running in redirection mode

This guide does not contain instructions for migration when the source server is running multiple roles. If your server is running multiple roles, it is recommended that you design a custom migration procedure specific to your server environment, based on the information provided in other role migration guides. Migration guides for additional server roles are available on the Windows Server 2008 R2 TechCenter (


If your source server is running multiple roles, some migration steps in this guide, such as those for computer name and IP configuration, can cause other roles that are running on the source server to fail.

Supported migration scenarios

This guide provides you with instructions for the following:

  • Migrating a server that is running Terminal Services on Windows Server 2008 to a server that is running Remote Desktop Services on Windows Server 2008 R2

  • Migrating between two servers running Remote Desktop Services on Windows Server 2008 R2

For migration scenarios described in this guide, each of the Remote Desktop Services role services is migrated separately. You can migrate one, some, or all role services by following the steps in this guide. In some cases, if you change the order of the migration of the role services, you may have to modify the migration steps. For information about the order of migration, see the section in this topic Order of migration for multiple role services.

Policy and configuration settings

Some Remote Desktop Services settings can be configured by using Group Policy. Migrating Group Policy settings is not covered in this migration guide. For more information about Group Policy settings for Remote Desktop Services in Windows Server 2008 R2, see Group Policy Settings for Remote Desktop Services in Windows Server 2008 R2 (

The Windows Firewall is on by default in Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008 R2. Windows Firewall helps control which programs or ports can be used to communicate between Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008 R2 and other computers on the network or the Internet. To allow a program or port to communicate through Windows Firewall, you must create a Windows Firewall exception. To enable the Remote Service Management Windows Firewall exception, follow the steps in the Remote Desktop Services Deployment Guide (

Remote Desktop Services deployments require the opening of specific ports. RD Connection Broker accesses RD Session Host through the firewall by using port 3389. RD Gateway requires port 80 to be open for HTTP connections and port 443 for HTTPS connections. If RD Web Access is configured for forms-based authentication, an HTTPS connection is required and port 443 should be opened. If RD Web Access is configured for Windows Authentication, it may use HTTP, in which case, it would use port 80.

RD Gateway and RD Web Access servers can be deployed in a perimeter network. In this case additional ports must be opened.

Supported operating systems

Remote Desktop Services is available in Windows Server 2008 R2 in the following editions:

  • All Remote Desktop Services role services are available on Windows Server 2008 R2 Standard, Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise, and Windows Server 2008 R2 Datacenter.

  • RD Web Access is available on Windows Web Server 2008 R2.

  • RD Session Host, RD Licensing, RD Web Access, and RD Gateway are available on Windows Server 2008 R2 Foundation.

Physical to virtual machine migration

Migrations between physical operating systems and virtual operating systems are supported for the RD Connection Broker, RD Licensing, and RD Gateway role services. However, the RD Session Host, RD Web Access, and RD Virtualization Host role services, and the Hyper-V role do not run on virtual machines.

Backward compatibility

You can migrate Remote Desktop Services role services from Windows Server 2008 R2 or Windows Server 2008 Terminal Services deployments. In Windows Server 2008 R2 migrations, both x86 and x64-based deployments can be migrated to Remote Desktop Services x64 deployments.

Name changes and role service and feature migration support

This migration guide describes how to migrate the Remote Desktop Services role services from a Windows Server 2008 or Windows Server 2008 R2 source server to a Windows Server 2008 R2 destination server. For Windows Server 2008 R2, Terminal Services was renamed to Remote Desktop Services. It includes major enhancements to the existing role services and the addition of the RD Virtualization Host role service.

The first table shows the Remote Desktop Services role services and features that can be migrated to Windows Server 2008 R2. The second table shows features that cannot be migrated.

Remote Desktop Services role service migration support

Windows Server 2008 Windows Server 2008 R2

Terminal Server

RD Session Host


RD Virtualization Host (new in Windows Server 2008 R2)

TS Session Broker

RD Connection Broker

TS Web Access

RD Web Access

TS Licensing

RD Licensing

TS Gateway

RD Gateway

Windows Server 2008 Windows Server 2008 R2


RD Session Host server running in redirection mode

TS RemoteApp


Migrating certificates for Remote Desktop Services

This guide treats the migration of certificates for Remote Desktop Services by feature instead of role service because Remote Desktop Services certificates are integrated across role services. For example, a deployment with Remote Desktop Services Web Single Sign-on requires configuration steps that use certificates on the RD Session Host, RD Connection Broker, and RD Web Access servers. It might also require configuration of the client computers. To migrate certificates, see the Remote Desktop Services Migration Overview: Migrating Certificates topic in the Remote Desktop Services Migration Overview.

Migration scenarios that are not supported

The following migration scenarios are not supported:

  • Upgrading the Windows Server 2008 Terminal Services server role or role services

  • Migrating or upgrading from Windows Server 2003 or Windows Server 2003 R2

  • Migrating from a source server to a destination server that is running an operating system in a different system UI language (that is, the installed language) than the source server

  • Migrating from physical to virtual machines for the RD Virtualization Host or RD Session Host role services

  • Migrating any applications or application settings from the RD Session Host server or the terminal server

Remote Desktop Services migration overview

The following topics contain information about how to migrate Remote Desktop Services from a computer that is running Windows Server 2008 or Windows Server 2008 R2 to a computer that is running Windows Server 2008 R2:

Order of migration for multiple role services

The steps in this guide are based on migrating the role services in the following order when migrating more than one role service:

  1. RD Session Host

  2. RD Virtualization Host

  3. RD Connection Broker

  4. RD Web Access

The following role services can be migrated at any time during the migration:

  • RD Licensing

  • RD Gateway

Each role service can be migrated independently of the others; however, in a migration of multiple role services, the RD Session Host server or terminal server and the RD Virtualization Host servers should be migrated before you migrate the RD Connection Broker servers. The RD Web Access servers must be migrated after the RD Connection Broker servers. Changing the order may change the steps slightly. If you plan to do this, you should create a custom migration plan based on the order in which you plan to do the migration.

The Remote Desktop license server can be migrated at any time, but if the new license server does not have the same name as the source server, the RD Session Host server that uses that license server must be configured to use the new license server after migration.

The RD Gateway server migration is not dependent on the other role services for migration. It can be migrated at any time.

Migrating certificates is a separate process. For more information, see Migrating certificates for Remote Desktop Services.

Impact of migration on Remote Desktop Services

A Remote Desktop Services role service will not be available during migration. This is also the case for any role services that are dependent on it. In addition, applications and add-ons on the affected servers will not be available.

Migration times will be affected by the dependencies between role services. For example, RD Virtualization Host servers are dependent on RD Connection Broker servers, and applications served by RD Session Host may require RD Connection Broker. These dependencies should be considered when you are estimating downtime.

Plan your data migration to occur during off-peak hours to minimize downtime and reduce impact to users. Notify users that the resources will be unavailable during that time.

In some deployments, replication may extend the length of time that the services are unavailable.

For all role services except RD Virtualization Host, RD Licensing, and RD Gateway, you must remove the source server before you join the destination server to the domain.

Role service Dependent role services Impact of migration Downtime estimates

RD Session Host/Terminal Server

RD Web Access may be dependent on RD Session Host/Terminal Server in your deployment.

RemoteApp programs will not be available until they are installed on the destination server.

One hour

RD Virtualization Host

RD Virtualization Host is dependent on RD Connection Broker. RD Virtualization Host might be dependent on RD Web Access.

Virtual desktop pools and personal virtual desktops will not be available until migration of the destination server is complete.

Three hours or more depending on the number of virtual machines being migrated

RD Connection Broker/TS Session Broker

RD Virtualization Host, RD Session Host/Terminal Server, RD Web Access

Users will not have access to any of the resources managed by the RD Connection Broker/TS Session Broker server being migrated. These include RemoteApp programs, virtual desktop pools, and personal virtual desktops.

Three hours

RD Web Access/TS Web Access

RD Web Access will not be able to serve connections to the RD Session Host server or RD Virtualization Host server while they are being migrated.

Resources accessed by RD Web Access and managed by the associated RD Connection Broker server will not be available. These include RemoteApp programs, virtual desktop pools, and personal virtual desktops.

One hour

RD Licensing/TS Licensing

RD Session Host/Terminal Server must be configured with at least one Remote Desktop license server that is available to serve licenses. If not, users will not be able to connect to the RD Session Host servers while they are being migrated.

Terminal servers and RD Session Host servers configured to use the license server may not be able to receive licenses during the migration.

One hour

RD Gateway/TS Gateway

RD Gateway

Users will not be able to access the network with the RD Gateway server that is being migrated. The Remote Desktop Gateway service may be slow or not available.

One hour

If there is more than one role service on the source server, after you remove the source server from the domain, you will not have access to role services that you didn’t migrate.

See also