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The top Active Directory tools and techniques for backup and restore

A business with a broken Active Directory can crumple without this key piece of infrastructure. Learn how to plan an Active Directory backup and restoration.

Active Directory has become one of the most ubiquitous features of Windows Server over the last 15 years. Active Directory (AD), first introduced in Windows 2000, allows administrators to manage users and computers by implementing and enforce security policies. It also provides admins with a centralized and hierarchical directory to manage all of the resources in a network.

This feature looks at several Active Directory tools and tips that can ease the backup and restoration process for this essential piece of your enterprise.  

Methods for backing up and restoring Active Directory

There is no one way to back up and restore AD, which can make it difficult for admins to know where to start. Options include backing up system state or critical volumes, performing a full server backup or a full restoration that can be either authoritative or nonauthoritative.

Guidelines for a painless Active Directory backup

Backing up AD doesn't have to be tedious. To make the process as pain-free as possible, admins should know which domain controllers need to be backed up and implement a regular backup schedule. To save storage space, admins should remove unnecessary backups.

Can Active Directory be restored to different hardware?

Restoring AD to different hardware has a few caveats. There is no way to use one server to solve a problem on another server's backup. If an AD backup needs to be restored to a different hardware platform, a full server backup is necessary.

Third-party Active Directory tools

Although Windows Server comes with a built-in backup tool, admins may need additional capabilities, such as alerting and reporting features, to back up AD. Tools from Dell and Acronis offer automated and full server backups so admins never have to worry about losing data.

Why Active Directory functional levels are important

Functional levels determine which capabilities with an Active Directory Domain Services forest or domain are available, as well as which OSes can be run on domain controllers. Higher functional levels may introduce new features that can improve the functionality of the server. 

Next Steps

Clear Active Directory clutter with ADSI Edit

Conditional access control improved in ADFS

Azure Active Directory manages Windows user identity

This was last published in November 2015

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What are some of Active Directory tools you've picked up to keep this piece of your infrastructure running without issues?
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