Moving a Lotus Domino server to a new machine

An old server is a ball and chain to a company on the move. Here's what you need to know to transfer your system from a dinosaur to a brand-new machine.

No matter what back-end server you are running, there will come a time when you will need to move the entire server to a completely new machine—hopefully one with higher specs. In this article, I will outline the steps needed to transfer an entire Lotus Domino server to a new model.

One point of interest: By using the method outlined below, you can change the server’s hardware as well as the back-end operating system. So if you are thinking of going from a Windows NT server to an IBM AS/400 server, you should have few, if any, problems thanks to the Lotus Domino architecture, which keeps the datastore separate from the actual server code.

Preparing the server
As always, the first step is to completely back up your current production system. I always like to perform a complete restore of my backups onto a secondary system to ensure that the backup tapes are OK.

Next, you need to prepare the new server. You should install the OS onto the machine according to your company policies. I follow the standard basic installation instructions. It’s best not to install any extra services on the new machine, such as DHCP or Domain Name System.

If you plan on using the Domino HTTP server, then you should not install any other HTTP services. At this time, you should pick an unused IP address in your company’s address range. Later on in the process, it should be changed to that of the old machine.

Once you have installed your chosen operating system, you should install the Lotus Domino server. It is always best to install the same version of Domino that is running on the old machine. If you are planning on upgrading the Domino version—from R4.6x to R5.0x—then you should wait until after the procedure so that the Domino install tool can perform an upgrade as opposed to a fresh install.

Copying the data directory
Once Domino is installed on the new machine, you will need to copy over all the files from the data directory on the old machine. First, you should bring down the production Domino server so that no clients or replication access will occur during the copy.

Then choose whatever method you prefer to copy the files. In an NT environment, I use MS file sharing to do the job and copy the files over the wire.

Don’t forget to copy over the Notes.ini file. This file is not always in the Domino data directory—you may find it in the Domino program directory. On Windows NT systems in Domino R4.x, you will find it in the C:\WINNT directory.

If you have installed Domino into a different directory structure or you have made the decision to go to AS400 or Linux, you will have to edit the Notes.ini file and make the necessary changes to any pathnames that are referenced there.

Out with the old
At this point, you should shut down and disconnect the old server from your network. Then change the IP address and machine name of your new server to that of the old server.

If you want to upgrade to a newer version of the Domino server, now is the time. Just run the normal install and make sure the pathnames match those of the new server’s install paths. The Domino install tool will perform the upgrade correctly.

You are now ready to turn on the new server. If everything in the Notes.ini is pointing to the right place, then the server should come up with no trouble.

If you do have any problems in transferring the Domino server to the new machine, and you don’t have the time to troubleshoot the issues, don’t panic. All you have to do is turn off the new server and turn on your old production server. As nothing was changed on that server, it should come up as if it had been rebooted.

Declan Lynch is a Lotus Certified Specialist and currently works for a major international pharmaceutical research company. He is the European Lotus technologies support manager and is primarily responsible for the continued maintenance of the company's 250+ Domino servers. Lynch also supports the company’s Lotus Quickplace and Sametime servers, and he is currently beta testing Lotus’ new Raven Knowledge Management system.

If you have moved a Lotus Domino server to a new machine, share your advice with other IT pros. Post a comment to this article or send us an e-mail.

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