Restoring Active Directory to a different server with Veritas Backup Exec 9.1

I have a 70 PC network with a single 2003 standard server which runs everything (AD domain controller, DNS, DHCP, Exchange 2003, file server, fax server). We use Veritas Backup Exec 9.1 (with open file option and exchange agent) to perform a full tape backup every night.

I am not happy with our setup as I believe we are vulnerbale to considerable downtime in the event of hardware failure. At present I am trying to make the case for adding a second domain controller. In my report, I would like to outline just what we would have to do at present to get up and running again if the server died. As I see it, the steps are as follows:

1. Repair the hardware fault.
2. Reinstall Windows.
3. Reinstall Backup Exec
4. Restore from the tape.

Now on to my question....

My server is a Dell Powerdege 6650. I still have our previous server (a Poweredge 4400) on which I have installed 2003 server. In the event of the 6650 suffering a serious problem, is there anyway I could use my tape to restore on to the 4400?

I know that getting back the files and some of the apps wouldn't be a problem. It is what can be done with Active Directory that I am not sure about. From what I can see, AD is included in the Shadow Copy Components of Backup Exec 9.1. This seems to be an all or nothing selection so that if I tried to restore this to a differnet server it would include registry entries realting to the specific hardware configuration of the 6650.

Has anybody had any experience of restoring a full system state backup to a different server. Or does anybody know a better way of restoring active directory to a different server?

Hope you can help


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I consult for a Health Clinic that has about 10 servers, one of which was a W2K AD domain controller and Exchange Box.  I have restored many systems over my 15 years in the IT consulting world.  It finally one day lost its RAID setup - a container went down - and before their IT department called in the consultants to help they did something that unfortunately messed up the RAID recovery.  Anyway, after three days and six attempts to restore the server, and this is restoration to the same box, we we mostly successful.  We were unsuccessful during that period in restoring AD to a different server.  It looks great, then boots up the BSOD.  We recovered everything except the attachments in everyones exchange folders.  They were gone.  You could see that an attachment was there but it would not open.  Apparently, some of the new XP Pro / Exchange Client users were lucky in that somehow for them, their client 'refreshed' the missing attachments.  They were way past their recovery budget on the repair at $200 x 48hrs. (3 16 hr shifts) so we left exchange in that state.

The moral of the story is this.  ADD A COUPLE DOMAIN CONTROLLERS - IT IS THE ONLY SUPPORTED WAY TO BRING BACK AD!!!!!!!!!!! Also note that if you recover AD, and it is 60 days old, lets say from an old backup, it may be immediately erased. (Microsofts idea of security?)  Check google for a very fundamental problem in the windows API that ALL (well most) backup software uses to backup the system state of a windows server.  That is not good.  Another consultant whom I respect tremendously recommends keeping a regular Windows backup of AD and the system state and the c drive in addition to whatever backup software you are running.  Finally, I was told that you can also have a redunant exhange server too but I know very little about exchange.  As for fast restoration you can test Acronis image, ghost, livestate recovery, or bakbone netvault and keep images of your setup in addition to your backups.


In general, restoring a Windows server to different hardware is a risky endeavour.   When you restore the system state from on machine onto another, the results are unpredictable....if there is too much hardware difference, you will not even be able to boot (you are likely to get a BSOD).

You cannot assume it will work.  You have to test it.
I would suggest installing the same software on both systems and have them run as load-balanced application solution.

For exchange:

For windows/AD:

BTW - you buy server 2003 for a regular desktop machine and set that up as a fast-to-implement secondary domain controller.  Then, when you get the "second domain controller approved", you'll really have three! :-)


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