Best Way to Restore Active Directory from Backup to New Server

In this article, you will learn the best way to restore Active Directory from backup to a new Server. With the powerful restore tool, you can complete dissimilar hardware restore on Windows Server easily.


By Clytze Updated on February 14, 2023

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How do I restore my Active Directory backup to another server?


Hi, I have 3 different AD includes 2008R2, 2012, 2016 regularly I am taking system state backup of all FSMO role holding servers. In case if my entire infrastructure domain goes offline due some network attack will I able to restore the system state backup on newly built server to bring my domain controller online? How can do it? Thanks in advance.

- Question from Microsoft Community

Restore Active Directory from Backup to New Server

If you want to restore Active Directory to the same machine or a physical machine with identical hardware, you can just use the built-in Windows Server Backup and System Image Recovery. But if you use WSB to restore AD to another Server with dissimilar hardware, you may receive system image restore fails because of UEFI/BIOS and suchlike errors. What should you do? Is there an easy way to recover on a server with different hardware?

If you want to do AD recovery to another Server with different hardware, it is recommended to use a professional tool that supports universal restore function. In this article, we will discuss the best solution available for restoring Active Directory to a new server. Just read the following content patiently.

Why need to restore Server AD from backup?

In some cases, you may need to restore Active Directory to a new server due to some reasons.

  • The most common is hardware failure, where the existing server is no longer functioning properly. In this case, you will need to restore Active Directory to a new server in order to keep the domain running.
  • Another situation is server migration, where you may need to move the domain to a new server for device replacement.
  • Finally, you may need to restore Active Directory to a new server if you are upgrading the hardware or software of the existing server.

Best practice to restore server from backup

Since according to Microsoft, system state backup can only be guaranteed to recover the same physical machine, or a different physical computer that has the same make, model, and configuration (identical hardware). Thus, you may need a professional restore software to recover AD backup to different hardware on other servers.

AOMEI Backupper Server can be the one you can trust. It is a powerful backup and restore software designed specifically for Windows servers. It offers a wide range of features, including the ability to backup and restore Active Directory, including:

✎ It allows you to make a backup of your Server files/disks/partitions/system to various locations such as local disk, external hard drive or network share, USB drives, cloud, etc.
✎ You are able to create a recovery environment or a bootable device so as to recover a crashed system once there’s something goes wrong on your Server.
✎ With the specialized Universal Restore feature, you can restore Windows Server AD to dissimilar hardware without boot issues.

The next part will show you how to complete Active Directory backup and restore in Windows server 2016 step by step.

How to restore Active Directory from backup to new Server

In this section, I'll walk you through the detailed steps required to perform authoritative restore Active Directory 2016 or other Server versions with the best server backup and restore software AOMEI Backupper.

Download the 30-day free trial to give it a try and follow the stepwise guide to achieve this goal:

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1. Prepare a USB drive and insert it to the target Server and make sure it can be detected. Run AOMEI Backupper Server. Click Tools > Create Bootable Media to create a Windows Server 2019 bootable USB drive that can boot the target machine into WinPE regardless of the OS version.

Create Windows Server Bootable Media

2. In AOMEI Backupper, click Backup and then System Backup. The boot related drives are selected by default. Follow the wizard to complete backup Active Directory 2019 or other server versions.

Windows Server System Backup

3. Insert the bootable USB drive on destination server. To boot from the bootable drive, you may need to change boot priority.

4. Once startup, you’ll see loaded AOMEI Backupper Server. Click Restore and Select Task to select your system image.

Select Task Winpe

5. Then, select System Backup you want to restore and click Next

Select Backup Image

6. Tick Restore this system backup and then Restore system to other location at the bottom, click Next.

Restore to Other Location

7. Select the destination disk to restore image, and click Next.

Select Destination

8. On the summary page, make sure the “Universal Restore” option is checked. If the selected disk is an SSD, the “SSD Alignment” option will emerge, and check it as well to improve SSD performance.

Preview Restore

9. Click Start Restore, wait for a while until it completes.

10. Disconnect the bootable drive and restart the destination Server from the restored system. Then you can use the same configurations of the Active Directory.

💛 Notes:
Θ If you'd like to perform recovery on a large scale, you could consider AOMEI Backupper Technician Plus, which can help you deploy system to multiple computers in a company simultaneously.
Θ If you want to move the whole system including Active Directory to a server with the same hardware (or another disk on the same server), you could clone system with System Clone or Disk Clone to ​​​​​clone hard drive. After cloning, you can directly install the drive on new server and boot from it without the restoring step. 

Final words

To restore Active Directory from backup to new server, the easiest way is to complete with AOMEI Backupper Server. It provides a simple way to perform dissimilar hardware restore. And the bootable media creation helps a lot when the target machine refuses to boot.

Except for backup and restore, AOMEI Backupper Server plays an important role in file syncing. You can solve Windows Server 2019 slow file sharing with fast transfer speed, and also enable Windows Server 2022 factory reset. Try it and discover more now.

Clytze · Editor
Clytze, an editor at AOMEI Technology, is passionate about safeguarding your digital world. She dedicates her expertise to empower users like you in data security and recovery. She firmly believes that everyone should have the tools and knowledge to protect their digital assets through computer backup, seamless disk cloning, and efficient file synchronization. Clytze is your trusted guide on the journey to data safety.