Windows Server 2008 R2 AD Disaster Recovery (Part 1)

by Marin Franković on 4 May, 2010

As I promised couple of weeks ago, here is part one of two part posts regarding disaster recovery in Windows Server 2008 R2 Active Directory environment. In part one,  I will briefly explain new Windows Server Backup tool GUI and I will show you how to create system state backup using GUI and wbadmin CLI command. Both videos that are posted are in Croatian language.

First of all, WSB (Windows Server Backup) is not installed by default, so you will have to add it as a feature through Server Manager console. I recommend you to install command line support tools also. After that its a breeze! 🙂

WSB changed somewhat from Windows Server 2008 to R2. In R2, we regained ability to backup specific files and folders and to create system state backup through GUI. Also, now we can create backup in specific folder or on any disk (without needing to format it). Also, from GUI we can do “Bare metal recovery” backup and new type of backup, called “System Reserved”. Difference between “Full backup” and “Bare metal recovery” is that later one does not contain user data (files and so on). We can exclude certain files from backup and we can also configure VSS (Volume Shadow Copy Service) settings.

Be aware that backing up system state will produce file larger than 4 GB, since system state contains more than 70 000 files.

Fastest and easies way to create system state backup is to use CLI and command line tool called wbadmin. You need to remember just three simple commands:

  • wbadmin start systemstatebackup -backupTarget:VolumeName

This command will backup system state to a volume defined in backupTarget parameter.If you create multiple system state backups, you will need to know which version to restore, so you will use:

  • wbadmin get versions

And after you remember or write down exact version, restore is done by using:

  • wbadmin start systemstaterecovery –version:backupversion -backupTarget:VolumeName

Examples of all three commands can be seen in video. For more information on wbadmin command line, you can visit wbadmin command reference on TechNet. It is very important to remember that only way to restore AD system state backup is to restart domain controller in AD services restore mode.

In the next post, I will show you how to enable and use AD Recycle Bin in Windows Server 2008 R2 AD environment.

{ 52 comments… read them below or add one }

samer April 23, 2011 at 7:24

pleas i have question ,,
i have host server containing AD vertual server (Hyper-v)
i made back up ( metal bare – full back up) for the host which by default back up all vertual servers
after i restore the back up ,, i found the AD server and other servers but the problem is ,, i cant log in by using the Admenestrator password.
so what should i do to involve the passwords with the back up.


Marin Franković April 23, 2011 at 12:33

Hi Samer,

first of all, you shoud not virtualize all your AD servers ( Do you have any more AD servers which are working normaly? Can you log on to them? If that was your only domain controler, you can try to start it up in AD Restore Mode and check out Event log for errors. You can also try to forcefully reset admin pass (


Insaf Muhammed May 30, 2011 at 0:35

Hi Marin Franković,

I was watching the embedded videos here, I have a strange thing. When I go through the Windows Server Backup, custom back up I can not see the ‘System State’ as I can see in this video? Why?

My DC is Win 2008 Ent SP1 (test DC at a MS virtual PC Lab) ( and the only choice I have is wbadmin command line way of backing up the system state:( ) Are you using Win 2008 Ent R2 version of DC? Is that why you can directly add the System State from backup GUI ?


Marin Franković May 30, 2011 at 7:34

Hi Insaf,

yes, this is Windows 2008 R2 version. It has systemstate backup in GUI. Windows 2008 version has it in CLI only.


Insaf Muhammed May 30, 2011 at 16:59

Thanks Buddy!!!!!!!


Ristomatik June 2, 2011 at 9:20

Hello Marin,

We are running Domain Controller on dedicated Windows Server 2008 R2.
My question is, what is in your opinion best practise for backing up servers for futher recovery if something goes wrong ?
We did make bare metal backup once and now we are backing up system state on daily basis true WSB scheduled task, but we cant redirect it to network share for some reason, so all system state backups are stored on local partition. What do you thing about that procedure ?

Thanks in advance and keep up the good work.


Marin Franković June 2, 2011 at 9:43

Hi Ristomatik,

You should do at least one full bare metal machine backup and daily systemstate backups if possible. Unfortunately, systemstate backups by using WSB are not support to a network drive. You can schedule a copy operation to copy your systemstate backups after they are created locally to a network drive.


Hashim June 16, 2011 at 21:18

Hi Marin,
We have a small office we would like to share folders on this small network, can you please help me to add or share folders on network.

Thanks. Best regards.


Marin Franković June 16, 2011 at 21:21

Hi Hashim,

the best advice I can give you is to check out this Techet article (

Best regards


sandeep June 21, 2011 at 10:59


I have taken system state backup from command line utility and then format the server. I was not known that version is needed for restore. Now i need to restore ads backup , please help.

Thanks in Advance
Sandeep Kumar
Skype ID – skd2011


Marin Franković June 21, 2011 at 13:05

Hi sandeep,

can you please elaborate? You have multiple versions of AD backup or you do not know what backup version did you use?


Thom July 1, 2011 at 1:40

i tried to run the command, but after it found all the files and started the process it ended with:
A virtual disk support provider for the specified file was not found.
Pointing me to log two files of the process that were both 2 bytes long. Target directory is 14MB, and seem to contain only catalog and some xml files.
Where could be the catch?


Marin Franković July 1, 2011 at 7:23

Hi Thom,

what command did you try to run?


you October 28, 2011 at 16:17



Olumide November 4, 2011 at 12:43

I am running a AD server that does automatic backup….i want to be able to delete old backups since the disk is getting full…thanks


Marin Franković November 4, 2011 at 12:54

Hi Olumide,

you can try this command “WBADMIN DELETE SYSTEMSTATEBACKUP –backuptarget:e: -deleteOldest –quiet”. It will delete oldest backup.


Olumide November 4, 2011 at 13:16

haven try using the -deleteOldest which fail, i try specifying a version ( after using wbadmin get versions) but i got this error ” The version specified is afull volume backup, not a system state backup”


Marin Franković November 4, 2011 at 13:18
DJoni November 18, 2011 at 2:31

Hi Marin,

Can WInServer2008 R2 active directory backup, restored in diferrent server?
Whether the same treatment?

Thanks regards


Marin Franković November 18, 2011 at 10:37

Hi DJoni,

sure it can. Procedure is very simple. Instal new machine, promote it to DC and restore AD system state to it. Here is more detail info: .


Manoj December 3, 2011 at 16:37

I need to create 5 different user accounts in Windows Server 2008R2 to run one application simultaneously. Eg : Email Client Software as this email client can send only one email session at a time. Basically I need to create the same application in different different ways to send email s simultaneously. Please advise how can i do this.


Marin Franković December 3, 2011 at 17:22

Hi Manoj,

I would like to help, but I do not know how. Also, your comment does not have anything to do with this topic, which is disaster recovery. Please keep your comments on topic. Best regards.


Ali December 6, 2011 at 20:40

I want to deploy a domain for our DR test. I have a system state backup and full backup. I am running 2008 R2 x64. can you please tell me the steps I should take to deploy a domain controller from my sytem state backup.


Ganesh Kumar December 27, 2011 at 7:37


Myself Ganesh , i want your help in Windows sever 2008 R2 .
e.g If incase my Server goes down or Hard drive crash then how will restore that will all Security , Roles , Features setting & Data also .
Can i do from any Microsoft Application ?

I am waiting for your rply.
Ganesh Kumar


Marin Franković December 30, 2011 at 8:40


You can use Windows Backup to create backup of your computer and restore it in case of failure.


Ganesh Kumar January 4, 2012 at 11:42

But i am not satisfiy for this activity. Can you explain me how to create image of server without investing money.


Marin Franković January 4, 2012 at 12:05
Ganesh Kumar January 4, 2012 at 11:48

Hi ,
I have one more Question regarding Email Client.
We are using Windows 2008 R2 in RDP environment with Thinclient Pc so i want to know that how to configure my office email account in Email Client ( as like Outlook Express) for 3-4 Users

Waiting for your reply


Marin Franković January 4, 2012 at 12:06

Hi Ganesh Kumar,

this question does not have anything to do with the post you are asking it in. Please contact your local support to resolve your e-mail issues.

Best regards


Ganesh Kumar January 4, 2012 at 13:01


Currently we are using Web mail of thirdparty server so for Data backup purpose i want to configure Email account in WINDOWS 2008 SERVER as like Outlook express or Anyother email client of windows.

Pls help me……… i am suffering……..?


walt January 6, 2012 at 21:15

I have two identical servers – one for production (live) and a spare for backup. we just moved from 2003 to 2008 server.

On 2003 server I could simply catalog my backup from production to spare and restore daily. Now with 2008 server, it will not find my production backup on the spare server.

We are using removable hard drives for backup. Can you please tell me how to get my spare 2008 server to recognize my production backup?



Marin Franković January 10, 2012 at 22:44

Hi walt,

this is from TechNet article concerning backup “Windows Server Backup supports external and internal hard disks, optical media drives, and removable media drives. You can no longer back up to tape—however, support of tape storage drivers is still included. To perform a scheduled backup, as a best practice, use an external hard disk that supports either USB 2.0 or IEEE 1394.” so backing up and restoring from external USB drives is supported.

have you seen this article: or ?


John January 18, 2012 at 21:56

Is it possible to restore a system state to an SBS 2008 server that was blown away and then reinstalled cleanly (i.e. not using a Bare Metal image?)


Marin Franković January 19, 2012 at 22:24

Hi John,

I guess it is possible, but recommended way it to do “Bare Matel Recovery”. Check this out:


Ganesh Kumar January 25, 2012 at 10:59

Hi Marin,
Good afternoon sir, i have one question related Windows server 2008 R2
I want to access a tally server from home network with Full of Server Access then how is it possible to do this .
So please tell me how to do this Step by step & What we required for to do this
Note: Static IPs and all will purchase if required


knev March 16, 2012 at 11:15

I want to know the different the backup you showed on the video and to Windows Recovery Environment


Marin Franković March 20, 2012 at 13:08

Hi knev,

please check this link for more info:


Bashar Saboni April 30, 2012 at 8:01

Hello my teacher
When i make backup to server this message appear
(the operation to backup the volume was stopped before the operation started )
who can i resolve this problem
Note i have an external hard disk (Siemens Fujitsu 35EV840)the backup made until 10 days ago
Best Regards


Bashar Saboni April 30, 2012 at 8:17

My hard disk appear offline


Marin Franković April 30, 2012 at 15:32

Hi Bashar,

Use disk management tool to bring disk online.


Bashar Saboni May 1, 2012 at 9:20

HI MR Marin
the disk seems online but when i make the backup the disk seems offline
when i used disk management tool the disk that I want to backup to it give me unallocated
Thank u a lot and best Regards


pradip July 22, 2012 at 17:16

hi i need to restore ou which got deleted i had system state backup ,can i restore the ou


Marin Franković July 23, 2012 at 8:52
Manoj Patil July 24, 2012 at 4:40

Hi marin, may i get how to recover AD if full OS get crashed and we dont have AD backup ? is it possible from NTDS.dit? and how to transfer FSMO

Thanks in advance


Marin Franković July 24, 2012 at 21:24

Hi Manoj,

it is not possible to restore AD from ntdis.dit file. You need systems state backup. Check out this link:


ahmed July 24, 2012 at 10:03

you canb use diskpart and clean the disk. after that initialise it in the server. then you can directly backup to a external


Sideeque July 29, 2012 at 8:30

Dear Marin

We have one dell Power Edge T110 Server with windows 2008 server standard R2 64 Bit.I Configured the windows backup to an external hard Disk.Now the server is not booting.So we gave it for service.currently i need to restore my windows server backup to another server.Is it possible to restore in another server?.Please help me.


Marin Franković July 29, 2012 at 9:24

Hi Sideeque,

what kind of server was it? You want to restore user data, application data or Active Directory? It is possible to restore server to another location. Check out this link, there are some step-by-step instructions on the bottom: .


mohammad August 27, 2012 at 18:44

I am trying to use the wbadmin program to run a system state backup of a 2008 Enterprise server. The command I am using is this along with the error message I am getting. F: is a USB thumb drive, formatted in NTFS. I ran the command prompt as administrator and F: is fully accessible. What else may be the issue?

F:\>wbadmin start systemstatebackup -backupTarget:f:
wbadmin 1.0 – Backup command-line tool
(C) Copyright 2004 Microsoft Corp.

Starting System State Backup [8/27/2012 10:42 AM]
Retrieving volume information…

This would backup the system state from volume(s) Local Disk(C:),DATA(D:) to f:.

Do you want to start the backup operation?
[Y] Yes [N] No Y

ERROR – Specified backup location could not be found.


Marin Franković August 28, 2012 at 19:42

Hi Mohammad,

check this link out: In short “You cannot store backups on USB flash drives or pen drives.”


Tim Brown January 24, 2013 at 21:57

I’ve restored my server from a full system image, but DNS is now empty and the network adapter doesn’t have a static IP assigned.

The new server is different to the old one, but similar. Any ideas?


Marin Franković January 25, 2013 at 13:30

Hi Tim,

can you elaborate please? What exactly did you do?


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