How to Use Windows Server Backup for Active Directory Backup

Backing up Active Directory is important for Windows Server users. Learn how to backup Active Directory 2008/2012/2016 efficiently in this article.


by Lily Updated on May 19, 2023

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The necessity of backing up Active Directory

Active Directory (AD) is a directory service that Microsoft developed for the Windows domain networks. It is included in most Windows Server operating systems as a set of processes and services. Users manage permissions and access to networked resources through AD.

It is necessary to backup Active Directory 2008/2012/2016 because:

  • You may accidentally delete a user account or an Organizational Unit (OU) in Active Directory. A backup of AD will help you recover those objects easily.

  • The Active Directory database may be corrupted from server updates. With a backup at hand, you can restore it to the normal state as you wish.

Then, what Active Directory backup tools should you choose? Please read on.

Backup Active Directory with Windows Server Backup

Windows Server Backup (WSB) is a backup and recovery tool first introduced in Windows Server 2008. To back up AD, you typically back up the full server. As WSB is not installed by default, you need to install it by yourself and then perform a full server backup with it. Let’s take Windows Server 2012 R2 as an example:

▶ Install Windows Server Backup

1. Open Server Manager and click Add roles and features.

2. On the Add Roles and Features Wizard, click Next.

3. On the Installation Type screen, leave the default Role-based or feature-based installation and click Next.

4. Click Next respectively on the Server Selection screen and the Server Roles screen.

5. On the Features screen, select Windows Server Backup and click Next.

Windows Server Backup Installation

6. Click Install. Wait for the installation process to be completed. Click Close to exit the Add Roles and Features Wizard.

▶ Backup Active Directory with Windows Server Backup

1. Open Server Manager, click Tools in the upper-right column and select Windows Server Backup.

2. Click Local Backup. On the Action menu, click Backup once.

Local Backup

3. In the Backup Once Wizard, on the Backup options page, click Different options, and then click Next.

4. On the Select backup configuration page, click Full server (recommended), and then click Next.

5. On the Specify destination type page, click Local drives or Remote shared folder, and then click Next.

6. On the Select Backup Destination page, choose the backup location. If you selected local drive, choose a local drive; if you selected remote share, choose a network share.

▪ If you get an error stating that no backup storage location is available, you will need to either exclude one of the volumes that has been selected or add a new volume or remote share.
▪ If you get a warning stating that the selected volume is also included in the list of items to backup, determine whether to remove it by clicking OK or not.

7. On the confirmation screen, click Backup. Once this has completed, click Close to exit the Backup Once Wizard.


8. Close Windows Server Backup.

After you backup Active Directory 2008/2012/2016 with Windows Server Backup, you may choose different recovery methods when you encounter Active Directory issues. A non-authoritative restoration is needed when it has something to do with the system. In this situation, you perform a normal system-state restoration and then boot the server.

If you have accidentally deleted an object in AD, an authoritative restore is suitable. In this case, the steps are same as a non-authoritative restoration except that you should run Ntdsutil command with the appropriate options before reboot.

The whole process of backup & recovery with WSB seems complicated and error-prone. Is there an easier way to backup and restore Active Directory? Certainly there is!

Easier way to backup and restore Active Directory

AOMEI Backupper Server, specialized backup software for server, can help you perform Active Directory backup’s best practices.

  • It supports both Windows PC operating systems (Windows 11/10/8.1/8/7/Vista/XP) and Windows Server operating systems (Windows Server 2022/2019/2016/2012/2008/2003, etc).
  • It offers you four types of backup: System/Disk/Partition/File Backup. You can run system backup to backup the full server, and then restore Active Directory by system restore.
  • To recover selective files in AD, you can use the Explore Image feature to mount the system image to a virtual partition, and then retrieve the needed files from the virtual partition.

Now follow the instructions below to backup Active Directory via AOMEI Backupper Server:

Step 1. Download the free trial of AOMEI Backupper Server and follow the wizard to finish installation. It will be installed in a short time.

Download Free Trial Windows Server & PC
Secure Download

Step 2. Launch AOMEI Backupper Server. Click on “Backup” and select “System Backup”.

System Backup

Step 3. The required system partition(s) is (are) selected by default. Choose the destination path to store the backup files.

Select Destination Path

Step 4. Confirm the operation and click “Start Backup”.

Start Backup

💛 Helpful tips:

There are more backup settings you can use to make your backup hassle-free.

>> Options: you can encrypt, compress and split your backups, etc based on your needs.

Backup Options

>> Schedule Backup: you can set the backup task to run automatically at fixed intervals, such as daily, weekly, or monthly.

Schedule Settings

>> Backup Scheme: you can choose the backup method - full/incremental/differential backup. Also, you can delete old image files automatically to free up disk space for new backups. 

Backup Scheme


Now you know how to use Windows Server Backup for Active Directory backup. Nevertheless, AOMEI Backupper Server provides an easier way to backup and restore Active Directory with its user-friendly interface and simple steps. It can also help you solve the problem of Windows Server Backup not deleting old backups and run Windows Server 2016 repair. Go for the free trial of AOMEI Backupper Server at once!

Lily · Editor
Lily Green joined AOMEI in 2018 and has since become a professional in the areas of data protection and data transfer. She is committed to helping users protect their precious computer data and troubleshoot Windows system errors. She consistently stays vigilant about the latest trends in technology, guaranteeing that the given information aligned with the ongoing advancements in the field.