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Recovery after a server crash - System State

Posted on 2013-01-11
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Last Modified: 2013-01-29
I backed up my system state using NTBackup for Windows server 2003.

Lets pretend the server crashes and I need to rebuild a new server.  How would I recover
Active Directory and all the users, domains, DNS, DHCP?

Is that included in the system state backup in Windows?

Also how could I put the printers back on the server without affecting the clients?

One more thing, how often do I need to backup the system state?  Does it really change if I don't do anything to the server?
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Question by:al4629740
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14 Comments
 
LVL 43

Assisted Solution

by:Davis McCarn
Davis McCarn earned 56 total points
ID: 38770024
A System State backup includes the Registry, boot files, and important system files.  Depending on the configuration of the server, it will also include the Active Directory directory service, Certificate Service database, COM+ Class Registration database, and SYSVOL directory.
You also; though, need a complete file backup of the server or you will only have part of what you need.
To recover, do a basic install of the O/S, restore the data file backup, then the system state.  The printers and AD will then be fine.
I generally include the system state in each backup.
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LVL 52

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by:Manpreet SIngh Khatra
Manpreet SIngh Khatra earned 167 total points
ID: 38770026
Is that included in the system state backup in Windows?

Back up system state
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc787254%28v=WS.10%29.aspx

When you choose to back up the system state on a domain controller, the following items are included:
    Active Directory (NTDS)
    The boot files
    The COM+ class registration database
    The registry
    The system volume (SYSVOL)
    Certificate Server (Only if the DC is a CA server as well)

When you back up the system state on a non-domain controller, the following items are included:
    The Boot file
    The COM+ class registration database
    The registry

how often do I need to backup the system state? - Every month or so as if some tape or file is corrupted so should have at-least few in handy

- Rancy
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LVL 78

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by:arnold
arnold earned 111 total points
ID: 38770030
The question applies to an AD where there is only one DC. Do not perform restore of an AD in a multi DC environment as long as there is one DC functional.
If a user can change their password, you need to regularly backup the system state. If you have GPO that resets computer accounts, you need to regularly backup systemstate.
The system state includes all things AD, user, computer, structure and AD integrated DNS zones.
I do not thing DHCP is included. You can backup DHCP configuration using netsh DHCP server export
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc787375(v=ws.10).aspx

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb727048.aspx

There are vbscripts that can help in backing up share configuration.
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LVL 37

Assisted Solution

by:ArneLovius
ArneLovius earned 166 total points
ID: 38771755
having a 2nd DC, and having both as a GC is better than trying to do a DC restore.

if you have a 2nd DC, you can seize the FSMO roles if they were all on the server that crashed, then cleanup using ntdsutil, then bring in a new DC, this is usually significantly less work than restoring a DC
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Author Comment

by:al4629740
ID: 38772248
What is GC?
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LVL 52

Expert Comment

by:Manpreet SIngh Khatra
ID: 38772299
GC means Global Catalog server

- Rancy
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LVL 78

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by:arnold
arnold earned 111 total points
ID: 38772329
The option/checkbox is within sites and services, NTDS setting
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc737102(v=ws.10).aspx
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Author Comment

by:al4629740
ID: 38772394
So I can have two servers acting as Active Directory fashion by enabling the GC in a second controller?
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LVL 52

Assisted Solution

by:Manpreet SIngh Khatra
Manpreet SIngh Khatra earned 167 total points
ID: 38772478
No even a normal DC holds AD .... i guess what Arne might have wanted to say was that having 2 GC was a better deployment

- Rancy
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LVL 37

Assisted Solution

by:ArneLovius
ArneLovius earned 166 total points
ID: 38773659
@Rancy Exactly :-)

There are two options, either 1 GC per AD site, or have every DC to be a GC. For smaller (under 10k users) deployments, I prefer every DC to be a GC.

There is an additional performance hit when a DC is a GC, but for small deployments on modern hardware it is usually not measurable.
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LVL 52

Expert Comment

by:Manpreet SIngh Khatra
ID: 38774981
Arne i totally agree with you :)

al4629740: your inputs ??

- Rancy
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Author Comment

by:al4629740
ID: 38801990
Basically, when the main server goes down, I want the second server to seamlessly take over.  How can I do that?

I just installed another 2003Server and will add it as an additional domain controller.

What other things need to be done?
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LVL 37

Assisted Solution

by:ArneLovius
ArneLovius earned 166 total points
ID: 38802309
Changeover is not completely seamless, if the failed server held the FSMO roles these would have to be "seized" on the other DC.

Some applications and services (Exchange GAL) can have issues if a DC "goes away", but a restart of the affected service allowing it to do DC discovery again should resolve any such issues.

The only way to have seamless switchover for any service is to have it clustered, domain controllers however cannot be clustered. You can run them on a clustered hypervisor, but this only guards against hardware failure, not operating system failure.
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LVL 52

Accepted Solution

by:
Manpreet SIngh Khatra earned 167 total points
ID: 38802369
To add to Arne .... this additional server has to be GC and i would preferably keep few FSMO roles on each so if issue with one server maybe i might get to know in Advance :)

Exchange connectivity could be affected ... RUS (new email and other stuff might not work) ..... So yes as Arne said its more over a bit manual with AD role.

Once both servers are in place i would surely check for event 2080 to ensure that both DC\GC's are of the best capability to handle Exchange functionality if other goes down

- Rancy
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