How to restore Active Directory from a NovaBACKUP Backup
Note: For the specific case where you want to restore Active Directory after performing an Image Backup restore, read the guide here.
With NovaBACKUP you can restore the Active Directory items that are part of a file backup (.NBD) that contained "System State > Active Directory" items; the Active Directory item from the backup set can be restored to a domain controller by using the instructions in this article. There are some conditions that have to be met for this to work otherwise you will damage your machine. Keep in mind that the currently installed version of Windows (verified by running the 'winver.exe' command) and the currently installed Service Pack level has to be the same on the computer you are attempting to restore to as what was stored in the backup to be able to restore the System State items including Active Directory, this means that you will need to upgrade / patch those items first in order for this to work. In addition, the name of the machine has to be the same and basically everything has to be functioning in the same way on the system that you will be restoring the Active Directory to, in addition the system has to already be elevated to a Domain Controller and functioning to support this type of AD restore. This restore method is for someone for instance that just finished restoring there system from an image backup, however the image was 30 days old, and that means the restored Active Directory contents of the system are now 30 days old and outdated, and now they would like to have the Active Directory be up to date by restoring the Active Directory backup that was part of the System State backup items in their newer file backup (.NBD) which is only a few days old compared to the age of the image backup that was 30 days old. If you can live with these components being out of date and just add your missing users / AD content manually yourself then you can use that method and not have to restore AD, however the restore Active Directory method described in this how to should allow you to restore the AD that was part of a backup set to get that version of AD in place. Keep in mind that performing the restore requires restoring the ENTIRE System State and not just the Active Directory portion of the System State; so on a Domain Controller that would include the Active Directory, Registry and System Volume items.
It is highly recommended to take a current image backup of the computer prior to attempting to a restore of any System State items as there is a chance of corrupting the OS if something were to go wrong with the restore.
Restoring Active Directory contents for Domain Controllers
The System State restore (including Active Directory, Registry and System Volume items) is restored in two steps,
1. Boot Windows in normal mode.
2. Load NovaBACKUP, in Windows running in normal mode.
3. Via the Restore tab, Import the file backup (.NBD) that has the newer System State > Active Directory contents. For a how to on Importing (and Restoring) a .NBD file backup read the KB article here. Note: If you are importing a file backup (.NBD) from a network location then you must provide the network credentials to access that network path, in the prompts that will be displayed for Domain Name, User Name, and User Password choices that will be available after you select the backup set located on a network path in the Import function menu. The screenshot shows what that prompt would look like where you would enter the network credentials:
4. Verify that the backup has completed the Import process checking the Log (and Status tab) and then go to the Restore tab and look for the backup that you just imported which contains the System State. If you do not see it there it could be that the restore index is corrupted and needs to be repaired, you can read the KB article on how to Repair your restore index here. Once that is done you can repeat steps 2-3 again to Import the backup set one more time.
5. Restore ALL items in System State.
6. Reboot Windows into Directory Services Restore Mode (DSRM). The reason that you are doing this is that the System State > Active Directory item has to be restored an additional time using a special boot mode in Windows called Directory Services Restore Mode (DSRM). Notes on Directory Services Restore Mode are below:
Directory Services Restore Mode (DSRM) is a special boot option in Windows. This mode is only applicable to Windows Server domain controllers and it is used to restore or repair an Active Directory database. If there is a need to repair or restore Active Directory database, DSRM has to be used. Restarting in Directory Services Restore Mode takes the domain controller offline, meaning it functions as a regular server, not as a domain controller.
Boot into Directory Services Restore Mode
There are two ways to boot into this mode, one tailored for those with physical access to the domain controller and those with virtualized access (VM). If you have physical access to a domain controller, you can access the Directory Services Restore Mode easily. Simply turn on or restart the computer and press F8 prior to the machine booting into Windows, the system will display the Advanced Boot Options.
Choose the Directory Services Restore Mode from the menu and press Enter. The server will then boot into Directory Services Restore Mode.
If you are accessing the domain controller in a virtualized environment, where the domain controller is a virtual machine, you can use this method. Run the Windows tool 'msconfig.exe' and change the boot mode option to switch to the DSRM mode at the next restart, this will save you from having to press F8 during boot time which is more difficult in a VM. Run 'msconfig.exe' and switch to the "Boot" tab. Under "Boot options", select "Active Directory repair". Confirm with "OK", and restart the system to start DSRM mode.
Note: If you use 'msconfig.exe' to change the boot mode you will need to run the tool again to switch back to "Normal" boot mode in Step # 10.
Once DSRM mode is booted you will be required to log on with the DSRM Administrator account which utilizes the DSRM Administrator password. That DSRM password was defined when this machine was first elevated as a Domain Controller, and likely it may have been forgotten at this point. That account is the only way that you can log in to DSRM boot mode. If you do not know the DSRM Administrator password, which is required to be able to log on using DSRM mode, it is at this point that you will probably need to Reset the DSRM Administrator password. You will have to boot the computer in normal Windows boot mode and log on with an account that is a member of the Domain Administrators group. Then start an Administrator Command Prompt and issue commands below based on the third party help article here and here.
7. Reboot Windows into Directory Services Restore Mode. You will utilize the local Admin account that uses the DSRM password
8. Load NovaBACKUP, now that Windows is running in Directory Services Restore Mode.
9. Restore only the Active Directory portion of System State, now that Windows is running in Directory Services Restore Mode.
10. Reboot as normal, unless you used msconfig.exe to modify the boot mode, in which case you will need to run 'msconfig.exe' again and switch from "Active Directory Repair" boot mode to "Normal" boot mode.
11. After logging in, verify that your Active Directory and Registry is up to date as restored from the recent file backup.
The recovery of Active Directory and other System State items is now complete.
12. Optional: Now load NovaBACKUP and proceed to Restore all Other Data as needed from recent file backup (.NBD), other than the System State items. If you are using the NovaBACKUP Server version to take your backups the "Other Data" could include file data, if you were using NovaBACKUP Business Essentials that could include file data as well as Microsoft SQL Server databases (hosted locally), Microsoft Exchange mailstore (hosted locally), Hyper-V Virtual Machines (hosted locally), to get those items up to date if necessary, if your newer completed file backup sets (.NBD) contained those items.
Only for NovaBACKUP Business Essentials customers:
To get your MS SQL databases up to date after performing an Image Backup, you can take the existing MS SQL databases that you are meaning to restore newer versions of, which have the same database names that are active currently, set each of those databases to Offline mode, via Microsoft SQL Management Studio; right-click each database, then do Tasks > Take Offline, to set Offline mode on each database. You can follow a KB article that we have on that subject here. The currently installed MS SQL and Exchange applications must to be the same version and Service Pack level to restore that content from a file backup.
To get your Hyper-V Virtual Machines up to date after performing a Image Backup, you can take the existing Hyper-V VMs that you are meaning to restore newer versions of, over the top of those existing VMs that are named the same, by renaming each VM via Hyper-V Manager. You can follow a KB article that we have on that subject here.
For a specific case where you want to restore your Active Directory after performing an Image Backup restore, read the guide here.
Warning!: Some components (selections) in the System State backup will not work if your Windows Server has the DFS Replication feature enabled. This includes ADFS, so on a Domain Controller you would have to disable System Volume and possibly Active Directory, and then try the System State backup again: