Active Directory disaster recovery with Windows Server Backup


Earlier I wrote a post on how to backup and restore objects in Active Directory with Windows Server Backup here:

Here I used the command wbadmin start systemstatebackup -backuptarget:(path) to perform a system state backup on a domain controller and use Directory Service Restore Mode (DSRM) to recover deleted items, as was explained on Microsoft Technet. However there is one drawback to this method, and it’s that you can’t perform a disaster recovery of your AD using this backup, and by disaster recovery I mean that all of your servers are completely gone and you have nothing left except your backups. If you try to use a complete server restore with this backup, this is as far as you will get.

Disaster Recovery error

So in order to do a disaster recovery you need a backup that support this. With wbadmin you can run

wbadmin start backup -allcritical -systemstate -vssfull -backuptarget:(path):

With this backup you can boot a blank server form the 2012 R2 install media and select Repair your computer. Choose image restore and it should detect your backup if it’s available.


After the restore you have a complete server restored form the point in time of which the backup was taken. From here you can seize any FSMO roles if you need, then and start promoting more domain controllers. In a disaster recovery scenario I would rather promote new domain controllers instead of running restore on every single Domain Controller. Note that your NIC will most likely be set to default on the restored server so you may need to set the correct IP address again.

So the big question now is: Can you use this backup procedure to do a restore of a deleted object in AD, instead of a complete Disaster recovery? The answer is yes. You don’t need to have 2 backups (one of AD and one for disaster recovery). All you need is the backup from this post and follow the procedure form the post I linked at the top to restore deleted object in AD.


One thought on “Active Directory disaster recovery with Windows Server Backup

  1. Pingback: Active Directory backup and restore | Per-Torben Sørensen

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