Data recovery from Windows servers with the help of software utilities needs a sustained approach on part of the technicians. Even though you may find many open source utilities online, their limitations in recovering data stays within the GB of data volume. When you are dealing with enterprise servers working on windows server 2012 or 2016, you will need Petabytes of data recovery utilities through multiple types of disk imaging, replications and backup procedures. It is not just the data that you need to restore, but databases (active directory and RDBMS), user profiles, group profiles, specific volume and folder settings, active directory system configurations etc.
In this scenario you need enterprise software utilities for active directory domain controllers, database servers, file servers, email servers, outlook servers and printer server etc. The software should be installable from remote locations on to all these servers and it should be capable of self configuration based on the hardware infrastructure of the server in which it has been installed. There are many other enterprise features which need to be supported by the software.
Support for multiple domain controllers: – domain controllers can be primary, backup; read only and forest level in categories. Replication facility is not available for read-only controllers. Hence they can’t be used for backup services from the other controllers. The software needs to support data replication in all other types of domain controllers in real time. Users may be connected not only to the primary controller, but also to others in a wide enterprise level network consisting of domains and forests. In such cases each server needs to replicate its hard disks onto others in parallel. This may increase the network traffic to such an extent that regular data transactions may get slowed down. The software utility should be able to time the replication by analyzing the need for maximum network transaction during peak hours and regular working hours. This configuration needs to be done by the data recovery professional after the installation of software application.
Support for authoritative data recovery: – NTDSUTIL is one of the tools available in windows active directory server which has the ability to update the version numbers of all the objects within the active directory infrastructure. This software tool is supplied along with the server system and works on all volumes and drives of the servers across domains and forests. When an accidental disk crash occurs on any of the servers, the technicians will be able to fix the disk errors, format it and mirror the data from its respective replications server. This is said to be one of the most reliable form of data recovery in the windows server active directory environment.
Full scale server data restoration
It is mandatory to have a backup of all volumes in the failed disk drive of the primary domain controller. It includes files, folders, objects, user and group profiles, software and hardware settings and the entire active directory structure from that disk. Only then the restoration process is said to be complete.
As a first step you need to reinstall the windows server OS into the failed disk drive. The hardware technician will perform a complete format of the failed disk before installing the OS. Once it is complete he will reinstate the network connections by reentering all the TCP-IP settings, IP addresses, DHCP values, subnet masks and other control panel settings in the network layers.
At the completion of this stage, the disk is able to get connected with the backup server in which all the data is stored. At this stage the technician chooses the logical partitions in the recovered disk to restore the data from the backup server.
Steps for restore
- After inserting the windows-sever CD into the DVD, the technician will power on the domain controller on which the data restore operation has to be performed.
- The first step is to format the corrupt hard disk and reinstall the server operating system. It can be done in two ways when the server boots through the OS CD. First option is to repair the disk for errors and restore the OS along with the network settings. In case it is not possible to do it, the disk is formatted and the OS is reinstalled. Network settings are reinstated by the technician as explained above.
- Once this process is complete, the technician reboots the server with the same CD and chooses repair option from the main menu.
- The system-recovery dialog box needs to be cleared of all the OS selections and windows complete-pc restore is to be selected.
- The technician then selects the location of backup server and moves on to the next screen in the recovery wizard.
- Then he selects the format-and-restore option. The chosen logical partitions are formatted and the complete copy of backup with all the data and back into the primary domain controller.
Once the backup is restored you need to ensure that the disk is replicated once by the replication server which contains the latest version from the failed drive which has been restored. This process will enable the entry of all the active directory objects back into the primary domain controller disk drive.
The process of recovering data from an active directory database is made possible by the replication and backup servers within the domain. When the technician uses WBADMIN.EXE command to execute the data backup the source, he need not specify the target as it is automatically detected by the system. Once the recovery process is complete, he will restart the recovered server normally. In some extreme cases he may need to remap all the network clients which were connected to the server before it crashed. All the other details like user profiles, group profiles and active directory settings will be automatically reinitialized after the replication process is complete.
Note:- if the failed disk drive cannot be repaired by hardware tools, it is better to dump the disk and go for a new one as you have the data backup readily available. It will ensure long life of functionality for the restored primary domain controller.