How to decommission a MS Windows Server

Created: 2007-02-09
Modified: 2008-11-19


The following article describes the general steps needed to decommission a MS Windows Server.


1)      Collect Important Information

a.       Save the following information to a file for future reference and to take notes.

                                                               i.      Use the Services MMC to get a list of services and associated user ids.

1.      Or modify Service.vbs from Microsoft to list the UserIDs of services.

                                                             ii.      Run “RMTShare \\computer” to list all shares (hidden and normal shares)

                                                            iii.      Run “SCHTASKS /Query /V /S computer” to get a list of scheduled tasks, and associated user ids the tasks may run under.

1.      Redirect output to a file for easier review.

2)      Identify services that are no longer in use.

a.       Ask other employees!!!!  They are a great wealth of knowledge.

b.      Check Logs (IIS, FTP, SMTP, etc)

c.       Monitor current activity via the Computer Manager Sessions and Open Files settings.

d.      Check user desktops for shortcuts that they may still use.

e.       Check all Terminal or Citrix servers for shortcuts, published applications, etc.

f.        Verify, verify, verify.  Accept no information about the use or non-use of any application / service / share without verification.

3)      Disable service, shares, and tasks

a.       Disable services that are known or thought to be no longer in use.

                                                               i.      Only disable them, do not uninstall them just in case they are in use.  Also, with an uninstall you run the risk of needing a reboot to complete the task leaving the computer in an un-healthy state until that occurs.

b.      Disable shares that are known or thought to be no longer in use.

                                                               i.      Document the share permissions before disabling in case they need to be re-enabled.

c.       Disable scheduled tasks that are no longer in use.

                                                               i.      Only disable them, do not delete them just in case.

4)      Create a list of known applications / services / shares that are still in use.

a.       For each application / service / share document the who, what, where, why and how.

                                                               i.      Who has access?

                                                             ii.      What are the various pieces of the application? (Client, Server, MiddleWare, etc)

                                                            iii.      Where are the various pieces of the application installed?

                                                           iv.      Why is this application still being used?  Is it still needed, is there a replacement already available?

                                                             v.      How are the users accessing the application?  Drive Letter, UNC Shortcut, Desktop Icon, Published Application, etc.

5)      For each application / service / share create a migration plan.

a.       Migrate the users to a new application.

b.      Migrate the application / service / share to a newer server.

                                                               i.      Find the original media for the application.

                                                             ii.      Perform an install.

                                                            iii.      Perform a test migration and have end users test.

                                                           iv.      Perform the real migration.

6)      Disable the original application / service / share after the migration is complete.

a.       Keep the original server around 3 days – 2 weeks before reusing, reformatting, deleting data, etc

Article ID: 24, Created On: 9/16/2011, Modified: 9/16/2011