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Windows Thread, active directory restore on different hardware in Technical; Dear All I been thinking a lot about disaster recovery at the moment and was thinking what would I do ...
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    ranj's Avatar
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    active directory restore on different hardware

    Dear All

    I been thinking a lot about disaster recovery at the moment and was thinking what would I do if i had a major disaster at the school I work at. i.e. all servers down due to a natural disaster water, fire etc.

    So i decided on a little project for myself with restoring the schools active directory on a test server using VMware to see the results. If I manage to get that working I was then going to restore the whole of exchange on there as well. Basically more or less a replica of our main DC but in a test environment.

    I wish I hadn't started because from day 1 I been having problems. I think the issue is because I am using different set of hardware to restore AD.

    From my knowledge I know if you want to backup AD you need to backup the system state of one of your DC's which I have done. The problem is with systemstate it does everything such as HAL, registry as well as AD of that particular server you take the backup from.

    Problem is when your restore that you get all sorts of problems. Everytime I have tried all I have been getting is BSOD (blue screen of death) errors once I restart the test server.

    I have followed some whitepapers from Microsoft and I get the feeling that Microsoft dont really recommend restore AD onto different hardware, in fact they don't seem to support it. All the Server 2003 books I own dont really have much useful information on this either.

    So I was wondering if fellow managers and technicians have addressed this problem with restoring AD on different hardware. Microsoft recommend that when you restore AD you should have another DC in the domain so the new server can replicate from that. In most situations that would be fine. Where I work we have 3 DC's and if a server fails I would normally follow that route but if you have a big disaster and you effectively have to start the network from scratch using nothing but NT backups what do you do?

    Any sort of advice anything can offer would be recommended. I hope I can start a useful discussion on this topic...

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    FN-GM's Avatar
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    It sometimes can be tricky. We don’t tend to have problems restoring other services when we do a test restore. We have an offsite domain controller now so if the event there was a fire we would seize the roles to the offsite domain controller. Makes things nice and easy.

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    I would look at getting something like Acronis's Enterprise Suite, you can make backups with that and restore them to any hardware at all, you inject the correct drives and it sorts it out. I've done it with boxes before, moved them from HP Servers to Desktops (temp testing measure and to test the softwares power). Its very good software and very useful.

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    you can restore to a redirected folder, then use dcpromo /adv to promote the server to a dc using the info from your restore info.

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    > then use dcpromo /adv to promote the server

    That server needs to be an existing member server doesn't it?

    > I think the issue is because I am using different set of hardware

    Yes... but it's usually not *that* hard to do. Make a 2K3 boot floppy and set the boot.ini to start in safe mode.. if you copy the mass storage (disk) driver for your new hardware on to that floppy and perhaps tweak the boot.ini to reflect the new home you can often get the OS up. You didn't say what it was, but the common BSOD is because of an incorrect disk driver.

    The required HAL is mostly Multiprocessor ACPI everywhere these days, but swapping that isn't too hard either i.e. if you don't want to do it the hard way, the 2K3 CD repair will normally fix that (+ you can use F6 for the disk driver).

    When it's up in safe mode start stripping redundant drivers and installing new ones. You can get a few icky loose ends to sort out, but nothing that seems too bad with hindsight.

    I think it's worth persisting in trying to make that VM work because the stuff you're likely to learn can sometimes be useful for lesser disasters.

    PS: Make sure you've got a 2K3 CD at the same SP level for repairing.
    Last edited by PiqueABoo; 12th May 2008 at 11:43 PM. Reason: PS

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    I begin to wonder if its actually worth having a virtaul DC because if you had a disater like this by simply resoring the VHD you would have a DC up and running again negating the need to do complex restore options.

  7. Thanks to k-strider from:

    albertwt (1st December 2009)

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    Edu-IT's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by john View Post
    I would look at getting something like Acronis's Enterprise Suite, you can make backups with that and restore them to any hardware at all, you inject the correct drives and it sorts it out. I've done it with boxes before, moved them from HP Servers to Desktops (temp testing measure and to test the softwares power). Its very good software and very useful.
    Is this what you're talking about?

    Acronis backup software and Recovery services in UK. Online data backup solution for Windows servers

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    john's Avatar
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    Yup, you need the Universal Restore add-on to allow a Universal Restore (this is what makes the magic work of transfering the image it makes to ANY other hardware, I've yet to fail I've gone from dual Xeons to P3 and the other way, P4 to C2D, Server platform to Workstation platform, fine some have needed more fiddling to get going but the image has gone on and worked fine once on and a few drivers added to support difference chipsets etc.

  10. 2 Thanks to john:

    albertwt (1st December 2009), Edu-IT (13th May 2008)

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    Edu-IT's Avatar
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    Thanks John. How does licensing work for it, do you know?

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    zag
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    Backup exec lets you restore just the active directory or just the system state, it has loads of options.

    Personally I wouldn't bother with an AD restore. I have 2 DC's in different locations so would simply seize the roles if one of them went down. It's a 10min operation.

  13. Thanks to zag from:

    albertwt (1st December 2009)

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    Question

    Hi ittech,

    how do you perform the test after restore to different hardware ?

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