One of my clients has a single-server Windows 2008 R2 setup which is serving as the Domain Controller. The server got in a situation where it would constantly boot into "Preparing to configure windows", then recycle. All attempts to get it to boot failed, and in the end I had to reinstall the OS. When I attempted a System Recovery from our backup images, we found that all the backups had the same boot-time problem, so simply restoring the C drive from the backup was a no-go. I am hoping there is a way to just restore the Active Directory database from our backup, without having to restore the entire C drive.

Any help in this area would be useful.



You want to enter Active Directory Directory Services Restore mode from the Boot menu at boot time, and perform an authoritative restore.



How were you doing the backup?

If you were using Windows Backup, had you explicitly configured the system state backup using wbadmin on the command line? If not, you're pretty well sunk if your C drive backup is no good.

If not and you do have a system state backup, you can:

  1. Boot into Directory Services Restore mode (assuming you've DCPromo'd the server and it is currently a DC)
  2. Open a command prompt
  3. Use wbadmin to find your backups - wbadmin get versions
  4. Do your system state recovery - wbadmin start systemstaterecovery -version:[date of backup]. For an authoritative restore, you append -authsysvol to the end of the command.

Decent 3rd party backup products should give you the ability to do a system state restore as well. You'll need to read their documentation.

  • I assumed systemstate is also backup target if you choose "full" in wbadmin.msc? – Tim Haegele Apr 28 '14 at 6:49
  • Yes, it is, but if you're having problems with a full C: drive backup - as here - it's stuffed. The general practice is to have a specific system state backup for your AD controllers. And servers like IIS and certificate servers that have info in the system state. We do system state backups on ALL our servers by rote (we use Commvault, which has the facility). Other than common best-practice, it allows you to do cunning procedures like this to restore to different hardware: serverfault.com/a/247908/204875 (results not guaranteed, but has worked when I've tried it). – Trix May 6 '14 at 2:34
  • I hasten to add I'm not sure if wbadmin can somehow extract a system state from the full C drive backup if the restore option is specified - perhaps that's possible (it's not documented). – Trix May 6 '14 at 2:36

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