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I have an ESXi (5.5) environment. There are two redundant domain controller(Active Directory, WINS, DNS, DHCP). What kind of possibility do I have to backup these domain controller without stopping any services? DNS is AD integrated. Does it make sense to Backup all these roles? Thank you in advanced!

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There are many ways you can do backups.

  1. Via Snapshots on your ESXi server.
  2. Via a backup solution which does backup of these services. While getting into which software works best and which you should use is beyond this scope, there are backup system such as Symantec Backup Exec ( which can back up your AD and other domain services. Or Quest (now Dell I guess)
  3. Manually by exporting data.
  4. Windows Server Backup and Restore Tools (an example on how to set that up can be found here:

"Everything you need to know" about Active Directory backups:

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Thank you for your clearly answer. Have you got experience with the first point "Via snapshot"? Im asking for that because I always read that I should never snapshot a Domain Controller, exchange or SQL server for backup. If the domain controller would be backup via snapshot it would create a USN problem after restore. – MaxMix Mar 15 '14 at 16:12
No, I don't have experience with that as my DC are not virtualized yet and I back them up with 3rd party tools. – ETL Mar 15 '14 at 16:41
@MaxMix At least on Hyper-V the snapsop issue was fixed with 2012 R2 - IF VmWare integrates correctly, that should work. Reference: h‌​ollers/ – TomTom Mar 15 '14 at 17:21

A few points about VMware snapshots and backups:

  • Snapshots alone are not backups. They are often part of a backup solution. VMware Snapshots are not 'application aware' beyond basic VSS -which will get you crash consistent backups but your applications will not be happy (AD, SQL, etc.)
  • Snapshots involved or not, you need an application aware backup solution: Veeam, Symantec, AppAssure, etc. AD for example is highly sensitive to proper backup and restores.
  • Snapshots are meant to be short term. Leave them in place too long and there will be negative impacts to the environment. 'Too long' depends on the rate of data change in your environment.
    • Restoring AD from a VMware snapshot is not supported, but can be done in the event there is absolutely no other option. Not for the faint of heart.....

In regards to should you back them up: I'm guessing they are important and that being able to restore them with confidence in a timely manor is also important. Even with redundant DCs, your recovery in event of needing a full restore will go much smoother if you can recover both of them.

In general, restoring AD, SQL et al is a topic of entire book chapters.

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