Restoring Active Directory can be tricky because there are several rules that must be observed.
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Even though domain controllers are supposed to provide redundancy to each other, there are platform-specific differences that prevent data from one server from being used to restore another. You can always use a system state or critical volumes backup to restore a domain controller on which the backup was created. If you create Backup A on Server A, you can use Backup A to restore Server A at any time.
However, you cannot use a system state or critical volumes backup to restore a different domain controller or restore that domain controller to different hardware. You can't use Backup A to restore the Active Directory environment that existed on Server B; you can't "fix" a problem on Server B with Server A's backup. Similarly, you can't restore Backup A to Server B and expect it to work as Server A.
If you must restore an Active Directory backup to a different hardware platform, use a full server backup. For example, if Backup A is a full server backup -- not a system state or critical volumes backup -- you can restore Server A on another server -- effectively making that new hardware Server A.
Why do Active Directory functional levels matter?
Dig Deeper on Microsoft Active Directory Backup and Restore
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