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what is the best way to export prod AD and all objects including GPOs to the test lab for testing?

what is the best way to export prod AD and all objects including GPOs to the test lab for testing?

Could you please let me know the possible scenarios such as coping AD database, using scripts, etc What are the best way to export AD into the isolated lab for testing the restructure. Thank you very much.
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claudiamcse
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claudiamcse
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Neil RussellTechnical Development LeadCommented:
take a backup of the AD server and restore it to a Virtual machine in an isolated network that can not connect to anything AT ALL.
You now have an exact copy of your AD server.  No real way to copy it in any other form really.
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claudiamcseAuthor Commented:
What back up do you recommend so that it restores AD database with all GPOs?
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Neil RussellTechnical Development LeadCommented:
Depends on where you are going to restore it to.
You could just use a windows server backup,  you could do a P2V migration, you can use ANY BACKUP SOFTWARE that will do a barebones recovery onto new hardware or into a Virtual machine if thats what you are doing.

If you backup and restore the AD Controller just be 100% sure that it can NOT talk on the same network as your normal computers and AD controllers.  That would be a disaster.
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Making Bulk Changes to Active Directory

Watch this video to see how easy it is to make mass changes to Active Directory from an external text file without using complicated scripts.

 
Neil RussellTechnical Development LeadCommented:
Is your current DC a physical server or on VMWare/Hyper-V?
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claudiamcseAuthor Commented:
THank you! Our DC is VMware esxi. Also, would it back up and restore all GPOs with ALL its links?

GPOs and links are most important in our case since we are doing GPOs consolidation and restructure.

Please let me know if by restoring from backup would recreate all GPOs and links in the test lab.

Also, unfortunately we will be utilizing a computer joined to the workgroup with VMs running on it. Will it work in this scenario?
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Neil RussellTechnical Development LeadCommented:
If you clone the vm and then set it up with a different virtual NIC BEFORE you ever power it on, making sure that that virtual network has NO connection at all to your actual live network you are done.
A full back up and restore will include everything, including gpo but best would be to Clone the vm

Just remember to change it to a seep rate network before you first power it on.
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