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I was wondering if there was a general consensus on how long to keep system state backups.

I am trying to reevaluate our current backup process, and trying to get a good handle on our current storage requirements. Our current setup involves tapes and sending backups offsite with Barracuda Networks. We have been doing our system state backups with Barracuda now, which does full backups daily, leaving our storage requirements growing quite quickly.

My boss is a little too gung-ho with backups and wants our system states saved for quite a while. We currently have 5 days of nightlies, 5 weeklies, 3 monthlies, and so on. I think this is quite overkill for system state backups. My boss wants the ability to go back in time to find when an issue appeared, but I don't think that is practical. Many things change in the course of several months. I also think it would be hard not to notice problems with our DCs and other servers for several months.

I would think that a previous week's snapshot and the current week's dailies would suffice.

Any advice or reading you can point me to?


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up vote 2 down vote accepted

Useful shelf life of a system-state backup of Active Directory

Quote from the link about Tombstone Lifetime.

Windows Server 2003 and Windows 2000 do not allow the restoring of old backup images into a replicated enterprise. Specifically, the useful life of a backup is the same as the "tombstone lifetime" setting for the enterprise. The default value for the tombstone lifetime entry is 60 days. This value can be set on the Directory Service (NTDS) config object.

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To clarify: In W2K3 RTM the default tombstone lifetime is 60 days. The default tombstone lifetime in W2K3SP1 is 180 days. The change is not retroactive so if you installed W2K3 with pre-SP1 media then a registry change is required to bump it up to 180 days. – joeqwerty Apr 22 '10 at 21:54
Thanks very much! This is what I'm looking for. – isoscelestriangle Apr 23 '10 at 3:14

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