Backup and restore Active Directory

Hi Experts
I Have Active Directory 2008 R2
the main HDD Dying "but windows Still working" so i recover the backup on another HDD same capacity but the windows not start-up
so i decided to make a new fresh windows installation of the server with the new HDD
i have more that 100 Client member on that Domain so i need to backup on Active Directory with all settings and restore it to the new Windows server 2008 R2 fresh installation
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Will SzymkowskiSenior Solution ArchitectCommented:
The appropriate way to backup Active Directory is a system state backup. See below link.

Also in your case if you do not already have another DC in your environment it will save you a lot of time and headache if you simply spin up another server, promote it as a DC and then transfer any of the roles to it.

I say this because you can simply demote the old DC after the roles have been transferred to the new one.
- you will also need to setup the new DC as a External Time Source
- point your DNS clients and servers to the new DC for DNS as well

This is a better approach because you do not have the headach of restoring a system state backup.

However you should still take a system state backup as well for good measure.


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Hi Masworld,

The best and most reliable way would be to re-image your existing failing HDD but it means you are looking at a down time of your server.  Also other considerations I have done here are things like its a single HDD connected to the server via a SATA cable and not a RAID (software or hardware).

Just use this tool and once done put in the new HDD in the server.  Its known as a HDD duplicator.  I dont know which part of the world you are in so I am just sending you the link from UK as that is where I am, but you need to buy this.

However, if it is RAID, etc then let me know and I will send you a step by step guide on how you can transfer the AD.
Will SzymkowskiSenior Solution ArchitectCommented:
The best and most reliable way would be to re-image your existing failing HDD
Are you kidding me, seriously?

Bring up a new DC and transferring the roles is the most EFFECTIVE way and requires no down time.

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.


If he has even a couple of DC's in service then downtime of one would not be an issue.  He also does not mention about requirements for any downtime.  Sometimes too technical can sideline simple solutions - its important to see the requirement as the main point of action.

All he wants to do is replace a failing HDD so if has a second DC (if not he can quickly promote one even as a Virtual Machine in vmplayer which is a free download), then transfer all FSMO roles to the VM and can surely follow the steps as I said in my first reply, it will confirm work, in fact if the VM solution is used then the downtime will also be not an issue.

BTW, I have used this method not once but a couple of times.

Will SzymkowskiSenior Solution ArchitectCommented:
will things work that are not supported? possibly. However i do not encourage users down that path as it can lead to possible issues down the road. Something of this nature is also not supported by Microsoft.

I only provide best practices based on the software provided. In the event there is no other alternative, is when i would offer advice as a possible work-a-round with no garuntees. As the user has described his situation, I always like to take the "path of least resistance".

I know that you may have done this in the past and it worked but that does not mean it will work in this situation. However as i stated i only offer suggestions like you have when there is absolutely no other alternatives.

in this situation there is...

Will this is an open forum and not a Microsoft forum.  

We all know that any product across the MS product or to that matter of fact it may be Cisco, VMware etc - all have their caveats and in their product lists nothing can be said to be a perfect product in its functioning and forums like this are more of a practical working solutions and experience sharing ground.  

All these products invest heavily in their sites, its blogs and its writers  and they are there to talk on behalf of MS, Cisco etc, explaining best practices etc., and one would go to those sites directly if that's what is wanted.  Forums like Expert Exchange go a few steps further and share real time practical implementation experiences as they have worked on the field and if we start bringing all the best practices (which at times we all know need to be worked around) in an open forum as Expert Exchange then we are just promoting not sharing un-biased, practical and workable solutions is all I can say.
Tony GiangrecoCommented:
If the server is running a raid, replace the bad drive and allow the raid controller to rebuild the drive. No downtime and your server is healthy again.

If it's not a raid, setup a server running VMWare, Create a new VM, install your server in that VM and transfer the FSMO roles to it. This is the quickest without downtime. Leave the old server up (don't touch it) while this process runs.

Hope this helps!
MASWORLDAuthor Commented:
Thanks all for help
@TG-TIS no Raid installed
after transfer the FSMO roles to the Vm and test it
i should Reverse this process on the new physical server
Tony GiangrecoCommented:
Yes, that is the correct process.
AmitIT ArchitectCommented:

Focus on Will advise. He gave the right solution already.
Tony GiangrecoCommented:
Any progress?
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