How to Back Up Active Directory in Windows Server

How to back up active directory is the key to ensuring your network is always up and running. This article offers insight into the best practices for backing up Active Directory, the various types of backups that can be performed, and the tools that can be used to accomplish this, including EaseUS active directory backup tool.

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Updated by Gap on Dec 19, 2023

Windows Active Directory (AD) is a vital element of any IT infrastructure, as it stores important information about objects on the network and makes this data easily accessible for administrators and users. How to find a reliable solution to back up Active Directory is crucial to protecting Active Directory data against accidental deletion or system failure. 

A solid backup strategy can help ensure that your network is always up and running. This article offers insight into the best practices for backing up Active Directory, the various types of backups that can be performed, and the tools that can be used to accomplish this, such as EaseUS Active Directory tool

Hot Tips to Back up Active Directory

To ensure that AD backups are reliable and recoverable, it is recommended to follow best practices. There are several best practices for Active Directory backup:

  • Use a dedicated server to perform AD backups to avoid overloading the server hosting AD.
  • To ensure that you have the latest data in case of unexpected data loss, it is recommended to schedule regular backups of AD.
  • Use third-party tools such as EaseUS Todo Backup Enterprise to perform full, incremental, and differential AD backups, to ensure comprehensive data protection.
  • To prevent data loss in the event of a system crash, it is advisable to keep the backup file in a secure location such as an external drive, NAS, cloud, etc.

2 Solutions for Active Directory Backup

The Windows Server Backup feature in Windows Server supports Active Directory backup and offers various backup options such as Full Server Backup and System State Backup.

As an administrator, you are also highly recommended to use some 3rd party Active Directory backup tools as an alternative plan to protect your AD server. EaseUS Todo Backup Enterprise offers a direct Active Directory backup feature that makes it easy to select specific Active Directories to back up.

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Windows Server Backup

Install Windows Server Backup

It is necessary to install the Windows Server Backup program before using this feature. Here are the steps to do so.

1. Click Start -> Server Manager and click on add roles and Features.

add roles and features in server manager

2. Select Windows Server Backup and click Next and Install button. Then it will start to install this feature.

windows server backup in server manager

3. After completing the installation, click on Close to finish. The Windows Server is now ready for Active Directory backup.

Back up Active Directory with System Server Backup

1. Open the Windows Server Backup console by running wbadmin.msc or clicking Start -> Windows Accessories -> Windows Server Backup.

enable windows server backup

2. On the console, click on the Local Backup node and click Backup Once… under the Actions pane.

backup once in local backup

3. In Backup Options, choose Different Options and click Next.

choose different options in backup options

4. Select Backup Configuration. The options include Full Server: backing up all system and application data, the Active Directory database, and all associated components. Custom: choose custom volumes, and files for backup.

Note: If you want to back up and restore everything, a full server backup option is recommended. If you just want to spend less time and storage space on your backup files, select the custom option to enable system state backup.

full server backup in configuration

5. Select the destination where you want to store the backup and configure any additional backup settings as needed. We recommend storing the backups on a network share or an external hard drive to prevent data loss in case of local drive failure.

backup destination in configuration

6. After selecting the backup source and destination, you need to confirm the backup settings. Then click Backup to start Windows Server backup. Wait for the backup process to complete and click Close.

confirmation in backup configuration

Perform Schedule Backup with Windows Server Backup

1. Open the Windows Server Backup console and click Backup Schedule on the right panel to continue.

backup schedule in config

2. Choose Full Server and click Next. In the Specify Backup Time section, choose a specific time of the day or choose more than once a day to run backups. Then click Next.

full server in backup configuration

specify backup time in config

3. Then, you are required to choose a destination to save the backup and click Next.

4. After that, click Finish to continue.

5. Windows Server Backup has successfully created the backup schedule. It will begin to back up Server at the scheduled time. At last, click Close to exit the wizard.

Back up Active Directory using EaseUS Todo Backup Enterprise

EaseUS Todo Backup Enterprise provides you with the feature to directly back up Active Directory. You can back up and restore Active Directory files efficiently and easily.

Click New Task on the left side, and choose Active Directory, all the active directories are listed on the page for you to select. 

todo backup enterprise

Basic Settings:

Destination - Click Browse... to select your backup destination.

Plan Name & Description - An accurate plan name and appropriate description can help you find the needed image file easily.

Advanced backup settings

Advanced backup settings are useful when you want to create a flexible and automatic backup plan. The schedule is to create an automatic backup plan. The backup option is to edit the advanced parameters. Backup Cleanup is to reserve the limited image as per the image retention rule.

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To sum up, backing up Active Directory is critical as it allows for swift and effortless recovery in the event of system crashes, partition/disk corruption, virus infections, or accidental data loss, which ensures the continuity and integrity of your data.

How to Back Up Active Directory in Windows Server FAQs

Where is Active Directory data stored?

The AD database is stored in the NTDS. DIT file is located in the NTDS folder of the system root, usually C:\Windows. AD uses a concept known as multimaster replication to ensure that the data store is consistent on all DCs.

Does the system state backup include Active Directory?

Yes. A system state backup includes Domain members: Boot files, COM+ class registration database, and registry. Domain controller: Active Directory (NTDS), boot files, COM+ class registration database, registry, system volume (sysvol folder)

However, if you are looking for a tool that provides a separate Active Directory backup feature, you can consider some 3rd party tools, such as EaseUS Todo Backup Enterprise

Is Active Directory included in Windows Server?

Yes. Active Directory Domain Services is a part of the Windows Server operating system. 

What is the difference between Active Directory backup and snapshot?

Active Directory Snapshot is a tool you can use to query old Active Directory data. It's not a complete backup solution - but rather allows you to access older versions of your Active Directory.

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Updated by Gap

Gap has been working as an experienced data backup and security engineer at EaseUS for over 10 years, focusing on working with clients to assess needs and implemented procedures and tasks for appropriate backup solutions.

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