Can I use the LDIFDE command to make a backup copy of my AD data?
I want to export all the information about my Active Directory native mode domain for disaster recovery purposes. I only want to make a copy, not actually export the data. Can the LDIFDE command do this for me like the CSVDE command does? I don't want to cause big problems in my production environment by exporting something of which I really only want to make a copy, so I can import it back in to my disaster recovery environment.
There may be some confusion here about the term "export." Many people believe that when you export a copy of the AD data, you are purging it from the original system. MS Knowledge Base article Using LDIFDE to import and export directory objects to Active Directory
may help, but exporting does not delete the objects from AD. (Note that you cannot export user passwords using this tool, for security reasons.) CSVDE is for bulk-loading contact information from a comma-separated table into Active Directory -- a slightly different function (see KB article 300409
for more on that).
What it sounds like you really want to do is make a backup of the AD database for disaster recovery. MS has an article on how to both back up and restore the AD database; essentially the built-in NTBACKUP tool can be used for this function, and the article describes which files need to be backed up and in what state for this to work.
This was first published in February 2003