Migrating FileHold to a new server

From time-to-time it will be necessary to move the FileHold system to a new server. Typical reasons for moving include disaster recovery when the old server is no longer useable and upgrading the server operating system. The process of migrating is fairly straight forward, but a person skilled with Windows Server administration and SQL Server database backups is required to efficiently and correctly complete this task. Migrating the FileHold system to a new server is not included as a part of your FileCare agreement, but FileHold professional services are available if needed. This article does not provide detailed steps for migration as those vary for every situation, but it does provide several high level migration scenarios.

The FileHold team can assist you to prepare a migration plan as a part of your FileCare support.

Migration preparations

  • Determine how the name and IP address of the new server will impact users and prepare to update clients, proxies, firewalls, and DNS servers accordingly.
  • Confirm you have a list of all environment changes from a standard FileHold install for your server. These typically include anonymous portal configuration, custom login page, custom plug-ins, custom API program, etc. You will need to ensure you can recreate these changes as part of your new server installation. If your new server will use a different version of FileHold from your old server, you should test and upgrade these changes as needed.

If FileHold created a custom plug-in or custom API program for you, any needed upgrade may be included in your FileCare agreement.

Scenario 1 - Disaster recovery

This scenario assumes that you will rebuild a replica of your FileHold system on a new server and restore from your backups.

This scenario is an excellent process to practice on a regular basis to verify an efficient restore in the event of a disaster and to verify that your backups are working correctly. It is every customer's responsibility to ensure they have a satisfactory method to backup and restore their system. FileHold offers test server licenses at a reduced cost to assist customers preparing test scenarios without affecting their production system. 

  1. Confirm your current FileHold version and ensure you have access to the matching server installer. The server build number is the best way to confirm matching versions. It can be found on your license page and will have a format similar to FileHold17.0.3_20230607.1. Customers with current FileCare agreements can request any past released version of the software from [email protected] at no extra charge.
  2. Prepare your new server with specifications matching the existing server and complete the installation check list for FileHold.
  3. Install FileHold on the new server including any custom configuration.
  4. Verify the installation.
  5. Stop user access to the old server.
  6. Restore, copy, or map the databases, full text indexes, and document repository to the new server.
  7. Update new server configuration to point to the production data. You will need to reinstall the license file provided by FileHold when you first installed the new server.
  8. Test the new server with the production data.

If you are unable to copy or restore your full text indexes, you should rebuild them at this stage. Depending on the size of your library, it may take many hours for the rebuilding of the index to complete.

  1. Open user access to the new server.
  2. If FileHold did not assist with this migration, contact [email protected] to verify the installation as ready for FileCare. This will normally require 30 minutes of professional service.

Make sure your backup regimen is updated for the new server.

Scenario 2 - Server operating system upgrade

In this scenario you will be installing FileHold on a different server operating system than your old server.

  1. Verify that your current FileHold version supports your new Windows server version. This information is available in the release notes for your version. The system requirements pages on the FileHold web site is only for the latest FileHold version. If the new Windows server version is not on the supported list, stop. You will not be able to complete these steps and you will need to upgrade FileHold as in the scenario 3 example.
  2. Complete the steps in scenario 1.

Operating system upgrades are typically done by migrating to a new server running a new version of Windows. In-place upgrades to the Windows server OS are not a supported option for any version of FileHold. If your Windows server licensing requires an in-place upgrade, you should first uninstall FileHold Server, upgrade your Windows server then reinstall FileHold Server. You could also build a clean server with the old Windows version, upgrade to the new version and then reinstall FileHold. The FileHold professional services team can assist you with this process.

Scenario 3 - Server migration and FileHold version upgrade

When the system requirements for your FileHold version are not compatible with your new server version, you will need to include one or more upgrades in your migration. You must have a current FileCare agreement to complete this scenario. For the steps where an upgrade is required, the FileHold team will complete these steps at no extra charge. This example scenario assumes only a single upgrade will be required. You should contact FileHold to help prepare a migration plan if you require more than one upgrade.

  1. Verify that the latest FileHold version supports your new Windows server version. You can check the system requirements page on the FileHold web site. If the new Windows server version is not on the supported list, stop. Contact FileHold to see when your version will be supported.
  2. Verify that the latest FileHold version is able to upgrade your existing FileHold version. Normally the FileHold upgrade process will automatically handle the current and previous major versions. If you have an earlier version, stop. Contact FileHold for assistance as extra steps will be needed to complete your migration.
  3. Backup your existing FileHold server and databases and ensure they can be restored if needed.
  4. Upgrade FileHold to the latest version. The FileHold professional services team will assist you with this step at no extra charge.
  5. Test the upgrade has completed successfully.
  6. Complete the steps in scenario 1.

You can install a new FileHold Server using the database server instance that contains an existing set of FileHold database. The new installation will create new databases, but you can give them a different prefix from the normal production databases then delete them when the installation is complete. The FHIT tool can be used to point the new installation to the production databases.

Scenario 4 - You are managing a multiple server landscape for development and test servers

This is a common scenario for IT departments with release and or change management as part of their governance plan.You will periodically refresh your non-production servers with your production data. This scenario is very similar to scenario 1.

  1. You may restore from your backup or you may restore from production directly if there is sufficient downtime in your production environment. Although not recommended, you can copy data from a live production system. If you choose to do this ensure you copy the documents first and then the databases and full text index. You will need to ensure your four databases backups are taken so all four are precisely in synchronization. If you full text index is not precisely in synchronization you may find the a small number of documents do not appear in this index. You may need to stop FileHold briefly when preparing the databases.
  2. After restoring to your backup server you will find that the license 7 day grace period has started. Adjust your enabled users to match your test license during the grace period. If your non-production server has a full matching license to your production server, you can skip this step. You may also want to adjust your email server to avoid sending mail to users that appears like a normal FileHold message. If you decided not to copy the repository files, you should disable the FTS index task.
  3. Apply your non-production license file. You can request a copy from the FileHold licensing team following the licensing instructions.

Additional scenarios

There are three additional scenarios that occur less frequently than the first three. If your situation falls into one of these scenarios, contact FileHold for assistance in preparing a migration plan.

  • If your FileHold version is not the current or previous major version, you will need two or more upgrade steps. These steps are similar to above by simply repeating the upgrade steps for each major version you are behind. It is possible you will not be able to renew your FileCare agreement if you are not on the current or previous major version.
  • Your current Windows server version is not supported by the latest FileHold version. This normally only happens if you are not on the current or previous major FileHold version as FileHold generally supports 7 years of Microsoft server platforms with each release. In this case you will require a temporary server running a version of Windows Server supported by both your version of FileHold and the current version of FileHold.

If it is not possible or practical to create a temporary server, FileHold can perform the necessary upgrade steps in our lab. You will need to send your databases to FileHold if you would like this service.