Disaster Recovery of Windows 2003 Server running Exchange 2003 in one box

Posted on 2004-10-24
Last Modified: 2010-04-19

As the title claims I have a machine that it is the only domain controller of the forest
This computer has windows 2003 Enterprise edition and it has also installed and running on it Exchange Enterprise 2003.

Before applying SP1 to Exchange I want to do a full backup and test the restore in another computer with very similar hardware (practically the same hardware).

In order to do that I used ntbackup and created three backup sets:
  1-full computer backup
  2-System State
  3-Exchage server backup

I verified after backup and the only error I got was harmless according to microsoft knwoledge base (some file was skipped, but they say it's Ok, I forgot the name).

Then I go the the second computer:
 -Install windows 2003 Enterprise Edition
 -Configure the Drive Letters with the same names than the original computer. (%systemroot% also the same)
 -Press F8 and enter in Active Directory Restore Mode
 -ntbackup and restore full computer
   (Note: options: always replace, and marking restored data as primary when restoring duplicated
 -Now here I tried two diff. things:
    a)Without  rebooting after restore, run ntdsutil->authoritative restore->recover database and the reboot  
  and also tried:
     b) After restoring,   reboot (I checked that HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE->SYSTEM->CURRENT.....NTDS->RestoreinProgress Key was created)

Anyway using approach a) or b) renders same result:
   ntdsutil recover database complains saying: Error 0x2 can't find the backup database.

I followed several microsoft support documents with same luck.
  -Do I have to restore Exchange database before running ntdsutil.
I don't want to create another member of the old domain and then seize FSMOs. Because I want to be able to recover from a situation where the whole forest disappear and I have to relay on the backups only.

When running ntdsutil I tried several commands inside 'Files' and everything said Passed, only the recover database and the Semantic analysis fails with same output (error 0x2, file can't be found)

Thanks a lot for your inputs,
Question by:vandresv
    LVL 3

    Expert Comment

    Add a microsoft loopback network adapter
    run DCpromo and make the server a domain controller.  use same name as server being restored.
    then try the same steps you took before and you should be fine.

    If not let me know.


    Author Comment

    Hello kelo501,
    I'll do it tomorrow for sure.
    Thanks a lot!

    P.S: In one of my many attempts I prepared the server before the restore doing exactly what you said: domain controller of a domain with the same name, same computer name, and even same admin password, but it did not work.....only thing I haven't tried yet is the loopback network adapter....what is that ?

    Thanks again,

    Author Comment

    Here I am again,
    I installed windows 2003 (same edition than source)
    Assign the same letter to the harddisks.
    Assigned fix TCP/IP and connect to backup storage (NAS backup) with cross-connect cable (I don't want to have 2 servers with same identity).
    Installed loopback network
    DCPROMO and install doman with same name than source
    Enter Active Directory Restore Mode
    Restore (this time I tried a full restore that includes system state).
    command prompt> ntdsutil ->Auth restore ->restore database
    Same error:

    'Failed to recover datbase from external backup. Error 0x2 (The system cannnot find the file specified.
    Error 8000ffff parsing input - ilegal syntax ?

    Gosh, this is driving me crazy.

    What do you think?
    Note: I just installed the loopback. I did not assiign it any IP, Is that correct ?
    Thanks a lot,
    LVL 3

    Expert Comment

    yes that is correct it is set to the loopback address..

    Hum...  I am busy right now but I will try and get back to you in a bit.


    Author Comment

    I built a test domain controller of a new forest to see if I was doing something wrong with the backup/restore process. There was no problem at all with the restore.
    Could it be that the database comes corrupted from the source domain ?
    LVL 3

    Accepted Solution

    I am not sure what is going on, but because you are testing I would recomend that you download and demo Veritas Backup  Exec 9.1

    Sorry but there is just to many things that could be off and NTbackup is not the best product.  It is a watered down version of Veritas.  Not usualy considered a true DR solution.

    I have to confess that I am a consultant and a DR planner.  In addtion I am certified on Veritas products.  I dont feel I am giving you bad advice to use veritas but I just wanted to address that I am bias to the product.

    Good luck,


    Author Comment

    Thanks for your advice,
    I'll see if i can get hold of another backup software..Actually I have NetVault, haven't used it yet, but I'll try it.
    LVL 3

    Expert Comment


    Author Comment

    I went back to ntbackup afer washing Netvault failing the same way. I re-did the backup tape of the original server and I made sure I was backing up SystemState AND %systemroot%.
    Now everything worked great.

    In the restore options:
      -Replace original
     Advanced options:
      -I selected Mark as primary duplicated....etc,etc, the rest of the options were defaulted

    Thanks kelo,

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