Upgrade and migrate data on your macOS Server

Learn how to use macOS Server to upgrade or migrate data.

You can download Server app from the Mac App Store and install it on your server to upgrade your macOS Server installation. You can use Migration Assistant to migrate your macOS Server installation by copying your server data and settings to another local volume or Mac.

Before you begin

Before you upgrade or migrate your macOS Server:

  • Back up your working server and test the backup installation and data.
  • Make sure that your target server meets the system requirements for both macOS and macOS Server.
  • If your server relies on any DNS or DHCP servers, make sure that they’re turned on during the process.

To upgrade a remote server, connect to its screen using Screen Sharing or Apple Remote Desktop. 

Service data

When you upgrade or migrate your macOS Server, your service data and settings are saved. Service data that’s stored in the default location remains in the same location inside the /Library/Server/ folder. Service data that’s stored in an alternate location remains in that location.

Upgrade your server

If you start with OS X Yosemite 10.10.4 or earlier or OS X Server 5.0.3 or earlier:

  1. Download and install OS X Yosemite 10.10.5 from the Mac App Store.
  2. Download and install OS X Server 5.0.15 from the Mac App Store.
  3. Open Server and finish the server setup.
  4. Then upgrade to the lastest version of macOS and macOS Server.

If you start with OS X Yosemite 10.10.5 or later and OS X Server 5.0.15 or later:

  1. On your Mac with OS X Server, download and install the latest version of macOS from the Mac App Store.
  2. Download and install the latest version of macOS Server from the Mac App Store.
  3. Open Server and finish the server setup.

Migrate your server data

To migrate server data to another installation of macOS, use one of these sources:

  • A server connected in target disk mode
  • A local hard drive or volume that has macOS Server installed
  • A Time Machine backup of a system that runs macOS Server

You can’t use a network connection from an existing server or a Time Machine backup to migrate a macOS Server.

If your source system is running OS X Yosemite 10.10.4 or earlier or OS X Server 5.0.3 or earlier:

  1. First you need to migrate to a system running OS X Yosemite 10.10.5 and OS X Server 5.0.15. Then migrate your server data.
  2. Complete the upgrade of your destination system to a newer version of macOS and macOS Server.

Here’s how to migrate your server data

  1. Install macOS on the target system.
  2. Connect the source that you’re migrating the server data from to the target system.
  3. Open Migration Assistant on the target system and follow the onscreen instructions. When prompted, select a supported connection method.
  4. When the migration finishes, download and install Server from the Mac App Store.
  5. Open Server and finish the server setup.

If you start with OS X Mavericks 10.9.5 and OS X Server 3.2.2

Updating to Upgrade supported Migration supported
OS X 10.9.5 and OS X Server 3.2.2 Yes
OS X 10.10.5 and OS X Server 5.0.15 Yes Yes
OS X 10.11.6 and OS X Server 5.2 No No
macOS 10.12.6 and macOS Server 5.3.1 No No
macOS 10.13 and macOS Server 5.4 No No

If you start with OS X Yosemite 10.10.5 and OS X Server 5.0.15

Updating to Upgrade supported Migration supported
OS X 10.10.5 and OS X Server 5.0.15 Yes
OS X 10.11.6 and OS X Server 5.2 Yes Yes
macOS 10.12.6 and macOS Server 5.3.1 Yes Yes
macOS 10.13 and macOS Server 5.4 Yes Yes

If you start with OS X El Capitan 10.11.6 and OS X Server 5.2

Updating to Upgrade supported Migration supported
OS X 10.11.6 and OS X Server 5.2 Yes
macOS 10.12.6 and macOS Server 5.3.1 Yes Yes
macOS 10.13 and macOS Server 5.4 Yes Yes

If you start with macOS Sierra 10.12.6 and macOS Server 5.3.1

Updating to Upgrade supported Migration supported
macOS 10.12.6 and macOS Server 5.3.1 Yes
macOS 10.13 and macOS Server 5.4 Yes Yes

If you start with macOS High Sierra 10.13 and macOS Server 5.4

Updating to Upgrade supported Migration supported
macOS 10.13 and macOS Server 5.4 Yes

If you can't upgrade or migrate macOS and macOS Server to the versions that you want, install the earlier versions first. Then you can update or migrate to the latest versions of macOS and macOS Server.

Update your server without the data

If you can’t install the earlier version before you install the latest version, you can:

  1. Move the Server app and /Library/Server to the Trash. This removes your Server data.
  2. Install the newer versions of macOS and macOS Server.
  3. Launch Server app and re-enter your macOS Server settings.
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