How to Migrate DHCP from Windows Server 2008 to 2012/2016

A few weeks ago at work, I was tasked with the project of decommissioning one of our older Windows Server 2008 machines and upgrading it to Windows 2012. I was initially a little worried, seeing as this server ran a lot of key roles, such as DHCP, DNS, was a Domain Controller, and also acted as a print server as well as a few other services. As I was migrating the DHCP role, I wondered if there was a simple way of exporting all of the settings, such as DHCP scope and reserved IP addresses. Turns out there was, and it went off without a hitch!

Here’s how I did it:

  • Log on to the old/existing DHCP server.
  • Open a command prompt as Administrator.
  • On the Action menu (from within the DHCP management console), click “Backup”.
  • Type netsh dhcp server export C:\Users\\Desktop\dhcp.txt all, and then press ENTER.
  • Install the DHCP role on the new (2012/2016) DHCP server using Server Manager.
  • Copy the exported DHCP text file to the desktop of the new DHCP server.
  • Verify that the DHCP service is installed and started on the new DHCP server.
  • Open a command prompt as Administrator (on the new server)
  • Type netsh dhcp server import C:\Users\\Desktop\dhcp.txt all, and then press ENTER
  • Open DHCP management console on the new server.
  • In the console tree, right-click DHCP.
  • Select “Authorize”.

If your old DHCP server is in the same network/subnet as the new DHCP server, you’ll notice that the old DHCP server has been de-authorized automatically. This is to prevent two DHCP servers from handing out conflicting addresses.

Check to make sure that your new DHCP has all of the same settings, options, scopes, and reservations set as the current one. If done correctly, everything should have been brought over. I was pretty impressed as to how well this worked and just how seamless it truly was.

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30 thoughts on “How to Migrate DHCP from Windows Server 2008 to 2012/2016

  1. Thanks a bunch for this! At the end of a long day migrating away from an old SBS 2008 server, I discovered that it was performing DHCP amongst its other roles. Your well laid out instructions greatly improved my demeanor and saved me time as well!

  2. I followed the directions, but my old windows 2008 server is not unauthorized automatically. I see I can right click on it and unauthorize. However, my new 2012 server does not show the name of the server at the top of the tree but a 169… ip address. It appears the scope and everything else imported, but why is the new server not showing the new ip address of the server instead of the 169 ip address.

    1. I fixed this problem. Unauthorized my old dhcp server, but may workstations are still indicating the old ip address as the dhcp server even after reboot on the workstations. Does it take some time?

  3. I migrated DHCP from 2008 to 2012R2, and whenever I try to authorize the new server I get the access denied error.

    any idea?

  4. Its giving error “The specified servers are already present in the directory service”

  5. Thanks, this worked, did have to manually deauthorize the old 2008R2 AD controller?? New 2016 AD controller is dealing IPs just fine now.

  6. Just used this, thanks!

    For me the new server didn’t need to be Authorized, it already was after I did the import. Also, the old server wasn’t deauthorized and generated an error “the parameter was incorrect” when I tried to deauthorize. I ended up just stopping the DHCP Server service.

    Other than that, probably the easiest migration of servers I’ve done in 20 years.

  7. I’m running the import command on the new 2016 server and it’s just hanging. (For about 15-20 minutes). Task manager is showing DHCP server service using 25-30 CPU. Is it normal for the import to take this long?

  8. Thanks, worked out nicely. Migrated from 2008 to 2016… I had to manually deauthorize old dhcp server, but that’s about it.

  9. Thanks for the instructions. All was well, but when I added the DHCP role to the server we’re migrating to, it shows some unknown IP ( as the DHCP server in the DHCP console, instead of the expected hostname. Any ideas why that would happen?

  10. How would I migrate from 2008 DHCP server to 2016 server but migrate certain scopes at at time, not all at once. is this possible?

  11. Followed these steps…
    Old server did not Deauthorise automatically so I sorted that.
    However, no clients can pick up the new DHCP server. No matter what I try.
    Tried restarting services, restarting the new server – stopping the service on the old included.
    I can quite happily bounce it back to the 2008 server and it works – but no matter what I try just cannot get a client to pick up the new one. Any ideas?

  12. To those experiencing issues.

    “169.254.x.x” address showing in DHCP manager:
    Disable all unused network adapters on the system or remove them from the virtual machine. Reopen dhcpmgmt.msc and will be correct now.

    “Moved to a new server and clients not receiving addresses, but works when failing back”:
    If your network uses VLANs then your core switch will need the DHCP relay configuring.

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