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AD Recovery or data extraction tools.

I have a situation where some objects in the AD have been changed over the past several months. We are attempting to narrow down the timeframe. My understanding is that the only method would be to recover the AD iteratively using archived exports or Veritas based backups (we perform each of these each night) going back one week at a time for each week that we’ve sent images offsite. Its also my understanding that the “recovery server” used for this purpose must be of the exact same make/model/config as the original AD server. We do not have such a server available. Is there an alternative recovery method? Are there third party tools, freeware or otherwise, that can extract specific content from an AD export file (much like mailbox extraction tools used on Exchange backups).  
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thx9000
Asked:
thx9000
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WeHeCommented:
You have to do a authorative restore of your AD database.
Its done on a DC in AD-Restore Mode.
Reboot, got into AD-Restore mode and restore the needed part of Ad as a authorative restore.
This is done with ntdsutil.
but take care, you should know what you are doning.
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thx9000Author Commented:
I don't think that answers my question. I need to know if I can do my restore on some alternate hardware. Specifically the hardware I'll be using is not the same make/model as the server from which the backup was made. Say for instance the original DC was an HP DL380 and I want to use an HP DL320 in a lab environment to do this recovery. Is that even possible? It's my understanding that this cannot be done. Essentially I am asking if I can do the restore in an offline lab utilizing un-like hardware. Alternatively I would like to find some extraction type tool that I could use cull information out of the export image. Such tools do exist for Exchange. For example I can take an exchange backup, dump it back to disk and using 3rd party tools I can go in and find an individual user's mailbox. All this without actually recovering the Exchange Server. Does what I am asking make sense now?
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WeHeCommented:
its how i sayed.
you can install on hardware whatever you want.
you have to install a running server os and dcpromo it. its no must to restore the os!
then you have to restore the AD.
its independend of the os installation.
and you can do this restore for every domain/ou/object you want
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