Backing Up Active Directory

Fortunately, domain controllers can be backed up while online, which makes the process relatively easy. And since Active Directory is included as part of the System State on domain controllers, you are required to back up only the System State, although you can back up other folders and drives as necessary. On a domain controller, the System State includes the following:

  • Boot files
  • Registry
  • COM+ class registration database
  • Active Directory files
  • System Volume (SYSVOL)
  • Certificates database (if running Certificate Server)

Back up the System State, which includes the Active Directory-related files on the domain controller. Here are the directions for backing up the System State using the MS Backup utility that comes installed on Windows 2000 and Windows Server 2003 computers.

Using a graphical user interface

  1. Go to Start > All Programs (or Programs for Windows 2000) > Accessories > System Tools > Backup.
  2. Click the Advanced Mode link.
  3. Click the Backup tab.
  4. Check the box beside System State.
  5. Check the box beside any other files, directories, or drives you would also like to back up.
  6. For Backup destination, select either File or Tape depending on where you want to back up the data.
  7. For Backup media or file name, type either the name of a file or select the tape where to save the backup.
  8. Click the Start Backup button twice.

Using a command-line interface

The NTBackup utility supports several command-line parameters that you can use to initiate backups without ever bringing up the GUI.

For the complete list of supported commands on Windows 2000, see MS KB 300439 (How to Use Command Line Parameters with the “Ntbackup” Command).

For the complete list of supported commands on Windows Server 2003, see MS KB 814583 (HOW TO: Use Command Line Parameters With the Ntbackup Command in Windows Server 2003).