Backing up Active Directory Domain Controllers

Last week I was asked by a colleague, whether I’d heard of a problem backing up Windows 2012 R2 Active Directory domain controllers when the Backup Exec server was running an elder operating system.

And yes, I know about this problem but wasn’t aware that I did not only forget to write about it here, but also in the Backup Exec Best Practice Guide I wrote together with Klaus Kresnik from Veritas EMEA.

So, here’s what you need to know regarding the Backup of Active Directory domain controllers:

  • To perform a GRT enabled backup of a Windows Server 2012 R2 Active Directory Server, you must use a Backup Exec server that runs Windows Server 2012 R2.
  • GRT enabled backups of Active Directory are not supported on Read Only Domain Controllers (RODCs).
  • You need to have a Backup Exec Remote Agent installed on the domain controller(s) you want to back up.
  • Activate the domain controller’s system state in the backup selection.
  • In the job’s properties, ensure that the option “Use Backup Exec Granular Recovery Technology (GRT) to enable the restore of individual objects from Active Directory backups” is enabled.

Please also note the following regarding GRT restores from Active Directory:

  • If you want to restore individual items from tape based backups, remember that Backup Exec needs to temporarily stage the backup set to (local) disks during the restore process.
  • Since Active Directory does currently not support incremental backups, you need a full backup of the domain controller’s system state to be able to restore Active Directory items.
  • You must use a version of the Windows operating system that supports minifilter drivers on the Backup Exec server that runs the restore job.

Please find the official Tech Note from Veritas regarding this issue here.
The requirements for the agent for Active Directory can be found here.
And, last but not least, here’s the link to the Software Compatibility List (SCL) for Backup Exec 15.

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