Windows Server 2012 R2

How to Backup Active Directory Domain Services Database in Windows Server 2012 R2

Maintaining an AD DS Database is an important administrative task that you must schedule regular to ensure that, in the case of disaster. You can recover lost or corrupted data and repair the AD DS Database.

The AD DS has its own database engine, the Extensible Storage Engine (ESE), which manages the storage of all AD DS objects in an AD DS database. The AD DS database is stored as a file name Ntds.dit. When you install and configure AD DS, you can specify the location of the file. The default location is %SystemRoot%NTDS.

AD DS includes the following files as in figure.

AD DS Database and Log files

You can back up AD DS by using Windows Server Backup, Wbadmin.exe or PowerShell. Depending on the roles installed on the computer running Windows Server 2012 R2, the System State Data on a Domain Controller includes the following components:

  • Active Directory Database (Ntds.dit)
  • The SYSVOL shared folder
  • The registry
  • System startup files
  • The COM+ Class Registration database
  • Active Directory Certificate Services (AD CS) database
  • Cluster service information
  • Microsoft Internet Information Services (IIS) metadirectory
  • System files under Windows Resource Protection

Backing up the System State in Windows Server 2012 R2 creates a point-in-time snapshot that you can use to restore a server to a previous working state. It does this using the Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS). VSS helps to prevent inadvertent data loss.

To back up the System State Backup using the Graphical User Interface (GUI), perform the following steps:

1. Log on to the domain controller with an account that is a member of the Domain Admins group and Open Server Manager from the Taskbar.

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2. In the Server Manager, click the Tools Menu and select Windows Server Backup.


3. In the Wbadmin (Windows Server Backup) Local console, Click Backup Once in the Actions pane.


4. On the Backup Once Wizard page, click the Different Options, and then click Next.


5. On the Select Backup Configuration page, click the Custom button, and then click Next.


6. On the Select Items for Backup page, click the Add Items button. In the Select Items Windows, check System state check box, and then click OK.



7. Back on the Select Items for Backup page, click Advanced Settings, and then click VSS Settings and select VSS full backup click Next.




8. On the Specify Destination Type page, select either the Local drives or Remote shared folder button and click Next.


9. On the Select Backup Destination page, select the backup destination and then click Next.


10. On the Confirmation page review the Backup items, and then click Backup to continue..


11. On the Backup Progress page, System state backup status is completed and then clicks Close.


To back up System State through the Wbadmin.exe:

1. Open Command Prompt (Admin).

2. In the Administrator: Command Prompt, type wbadmin.exe Start SystemStateBackup


This will back up the System State from volume(s) from Local Disk (C:) to E:.

Do you want to start the backup operation?

Type Y for Yes and Press Enter.

wbadmin Systemstate backup

Next, Wbadmin.exe creates the shadow copy of the C drive. After it does this it identifies the system state files to back up. Once it has completed its search for system state files, it begins the back up.

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Figure shows that back up of system state completed successfully.

Backup completed

Once the backup is complete, wbadmin.exe creates a log with a naming convention of System State Backup-14-08-2014_07-52-55.log.

Backup log




Backing of Active Directory is essential to maintain an AD DS database. You can back up AD DS by using Graphical User Interface (GUI), Wbadmin.exe or PowerShell. I hope this article helps during Backing up AD DS Database in Windows Server 2012 R2 Domain Controller.


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