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Restoring System State for an Active Directory Server

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Last Modified: 2012-05-11
I am currently creating Disaster Recovery documentation and testing all different backup procedures and scenarios for ourselves and our clients.

I have a couple of questions relating to recovering Active Directory from a System State Backup.

I have successfully recovered Active Directory using System State for both Windows 2003 and Windows 2008 by:
1) Restoring an image of the server, followed by
2) Restoring the system state using Microsft's instructions on the Internet

My question is, if we don't have an image backup of the server and we need to do a fresh install of Windows before recovering the system state, does it matter that the installation is not exactly the same?

For example:
Say the system state backup is for Windows 2003 R2 SP2...

Does it matter if we recover this system state to a fresh install of Windows 2003 R2 SP1 ? instead of SP2?

Or another example:
Say the system state backup is for Windows 2003 SP1

Does it matter if we recover this system state to a fresh install of Windows 2003 R2 SP2?

Similar question for Windows 2008.
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Yes. You should have similar service pack which was installed on the box where you taken the backup.

Author

Commented:
hi rajkumartech.
Your reply adds to my confusion.

Please be more specific if you know the answer to the question, or maybe a link to some sort of chart.

"Similar Service Pack" is too ambigius. Maybe you picked the wrong word, do you mean it has to be "the same"?
AmagedSr. System Engineer

Commented:
I had a previous experience restoring a system state for Windows 2003 R2 SP1 to a Windows 2003 R2 SP2. it did not work for me back then! a logical true since the only reference to judge the possibility of this is to ask the question :

Is the Update/SP changes between the 2 systems imply any AD/Schema/DS changes ? if the answer is Yes then you cannot do the restore unless they are the same. If the answer is NO, then you can

a quick look at the SP documentation will give you an insight

Author

Commented:
Thanks for that info Amaged... So I'm guessing the inverse would apply as well, where a 2003 R2 SP2 system state would not work on 2003 R2 SP1?

One more question if I may, do Windows Updates come in to play?

In other words,
would a System State of "Windows 2003 R2 SP2 with all current windows updates"
be okay to restore on to "Windows 2003 R2 SP2 with no windows updates"...

and vice versa:
would a System State of "Windows 2003 R2 SP2 with no windows updates"
be okay to restore on to "Windows 2003 R2 with all current windows updates".

Author

Commented:
last line of previous post should read:
be okay to restore on to "Windows 2003 R2 SP2 with all current windows updates".
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AmagedSr. System Engineer

Commented:
normal Updates should not be a problem.

I will not make my life harder tracking every MS AD Critical  update, so sticking to the plain SP level should be sufficient

Author

Commented:
Thanks for the extra info guys....

snusgubben: As far as using images goes, is it safe to restore a Windows Backup of system state to a recovered image of the server?
Microsoft always say "don't use snap-shots or imaging software on DCs".

If it's safe to apply an image then using System state "sounds" ok if that DC is never online before the System state is restored. I'm not saying you should do it this way though.

Here is a good reading what might go wrong:

http://blogs.technet.com/b/askds/archive/2009/06/05/dc-s-and-vm-s-avoiding-the-do-over.aspx

Author

Commented:
Thanks for all your help guys...
This question has been answered well.

Author

Commented:
I wanted to assign some points to Ampage for 28/04/11 03:32 PM, ID: 35481429 because that response was helpful.
If an admin can assign partial points to Ampage for the above that would be good.

snusgubben answered the question in full with 28/04/11 04:43 PM, ID: 35481908.
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