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How do I clone an AD production environment?

What's the best way to "clone" the AD production environment for labs purposes?

1) Import/export the script?

or

2) Promote a new DC in production, ghost the server, de-promote it, and finally bring back the ghost and apply the domain rename procedure?

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There is no single "right" answer to the question of how to clone your AD environment in a test environment. A good place to start is with the CreateXMLFromEnvironment.wsf and CreateEnvironmentFromXML.wsf scripts that come pre-installed with the Group Policy Management Console, which will capture information about organizational units, GPOs, GPO links and security on GPOs. An alternative would be to use a System State backup from a production DC to create a test DC (in connectivity isolation) and refresh the information on it through regularly-scheduled additional restores.

This was first published in February 2006

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